Walls, Fences, and Robert Frost

I grew up in New England. Out in the woods, there were stone walls, which had been there for ages. Centuries, for all I knew. Behind my house, in the woods, there was a stone chimney, a small pond which was for polywogs and ice skating, and then, as far as I knew, the rest of the world. The boundaries of my world were basically as far as I could still hear my mother calling me back home.

The Superbowl was pure spectacle. A game that some people probably called early, and some might have partied through. Lady Gaga brought the legacy of some of the greatest musical artists we have had, in our lifetime (she’s a bit younger than I, but I’ll claim her as a sister, anyway). And then, in pure metaphor, I saw the Patriots steal the game from Atlanta. Another Civil War, writ large, no fatalities, and a bajillion dollars backing it all up.

Except, we have no Abraham Lincoln, now, to call us all down.

In my 41 years, I have never witnessed the level of cultural anxiety we are all living in right now. A divided nation, in a global world, with questionable leadership in multiple places, and meanwhile, the generations after me, are chatting with people halfway across the world, trading jokes and memes, and also sowing more division and more challenge. For all of us.

There is a poem that sounds like this: Good fences make good neighbors. In the New England tradition, that means that you live with your neighbor, regardless of whether you actually like them, or not. But it is an understanding: You will not build a wall that keeps them away, or out. You know that when your child is born, it will be your neighbors that bring hot dish, so the mother can eat, and tend to the dishes. You mend the fence, because you know that when it is your neighbor’s child, with a fever of 104 in the middle of the night, you will cradle the parent and child, while someone goes for help. You greet each other, every day, opposite sides of the stone wall.

In the end, as a famous musician once sung, way back in the cold war days…way back when that pond was still a pond, and not filled with the debris of the life of the earth, day by day;

I know the Russians love their children, too.