A hot topic recently has been the building of walls and bridges. Many Americans, including some Republican presidential candidates, want to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border as one of the solutions to illegal immigration.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, believes America's current immigration system is broken and requires comprehensive reform. He says border security is important to the country, but doesn't believe a fence is the way to achieve that security. Former Secretary of State (and another Democratic presidential contender) Hillary Clinton say she supports a secure border and a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants currently residing in the country.
Walls and bridges are everywhere, and they will be around for as long as we live. They exist to help us maintain our economic, religious and socio-political standards.
We build walls to protect our privacy, to discourage trespassing, to set ourselves apart from others, to establish a space for ourselves where we'll be left alone.
We build walls to exclude others from our lives. We build walls to contain something that threatens or endangers our well being. We build walls to counteract our inadequacies, vulnerabilities and insecurities.
On the other hand, we build bridges to facilitate or maintain a steady flow of life. We have bridges, because we want to connect or interconnect with the outside world. We have bridges to maintain the steady flow of goods and services others can depend on.
We have bridges to communicate with others, to help us explore and learn more about others. We have bridges to reach out to others.
I view walls or borders as impediments to growth and development of the totality of men and women. They contribute nothing but isolation, indifference, ignorance and selfishness.
They deter progress and learning. They contribute to fear and doubt, suspicion and mistrust. Secrecy is prevalent with walls and borders.
There's freedom in building bridges. There's openness and communication, cooperation and coordination. With walls, there's apathy and indifference.
Building bridges can make a big difference. Bridges are a means to help build one big community better. We need each other for our survival, because we're one human family. Despite our differences of viewpoints and backgrounds, we all belong to the human race.
Pope Francis, on his way back to Rome from his recent trip to Mexico, said a person who thinks only about building walls and not building bridges is not Christian.
GOP frontrunner Donald Trump reacted to the pontiff's remarks and said, "For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful. No leader, especially a religious leader, has the right to question another man's faith or religion."
Evangelist Franklin Graham agrees that as Christians we should try to build bridges with others whenever we can, but that doesn't mean we should compromise our national security. He suggests to the pope "to reach out and build a bridge to Donald Trump. Who knows where he may be this time next year?"
-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Appears in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Thursday, February 25, 2016. For mnore information, visit www.suffolknewsherald.com.