The Wall: Which Side Are You On? A Team Member’s Reflection
by Kim Redigan Borders and barbed wire. Separation fences. Spotlights. Guards and guns. And always the walls.
MPT teams are often working in places where walls divide humanity, creating the illusion of “other” who then becomes objectified into "enemy." Walls are always built on a foundation of fear. They serve as monuments to the idols of nationalism, racism, militarism. They say something about the human heart. Over the past week, we have looked at many walls. We have seen remnants of the old, corrugated wall that separates the U.S. from Mexico, but mostly we stood in the shadows of walls that more accurately reflect this political moment. Towering, slotted rust iron walls separated from large concrete walls topped with concertina wire by a paved “no man’s land” where Border Control and contractors come and go. This means no more kisses, smiles, or communion passed between people who belong together.
We saw serpentine walls that snake over green rural hills, and we saw towering walls that rub up against busy, congested highways in Tijuana. We saw the bizarre “showcase” of wall prototypes set down with precision like a surreal set in a dystopian film
The cost of each of the eight prototypes ranged from $300,000 - $500,000 each. This is the site where Donald Trump staged a speech last month. Now the prototypes are being destroyed.
A few miles away families, driven by the violence of poverty and war, arrive at the border and run into the wall of cruelty called the U.S. immigration system. They will be criminalized and treated like animals for fleeing the conditions that have, in many cases, been caused by U.S. foreign policy. One wonders what it would take to destroy this wall and replace it with prototypes of compassion and justice.
We also saw the wall that divides the beach at Playas de Tijuana, reaching into the ocean like a long finger pointing toward freedom. It is here where the Unified U.S. Deported Vets and others have resisted through art, color, gardens, and creativity. This is the place where border church services are held each Sunday. The place where Border Angels serve up coffee and support for migrants in a weathered beach shack. A place where ocean waves roll out and in, out and in, out and in, whispering a mantra that echoes all the way from Mexico to Palestine to the most faraway place of all - the human heart.