Good Fences Make Great Neighbors

The key to building a good fence is to make it mean something. A fence a rabbit can run right through doesn’t do a thing to help protect the carrot crop. To be a good fence it has to be effective, impermeable. If rabbits are to be kept at bay it must be a rabbit proof fence. If it is meant to keep out, or in for that matter, other pests it must consider the ingenuity and persistence of the animal, threat or substance it means to limit. An airtight container must be airtight, hermetically sealed. A bank vault should be secure, breachable only by bank executives bent on embezzlement. A fence should be so high one can’t jump over it, so low one can’t dig under it, so wide one can’t go around it one has to go through the door. Good fences make great neighbors.

Good fences block the light so what goes on behind them isn’t seen. Nude sunbathing, hanging out undergarments to dry, beating the dog. Good fences are strong enough to thwart theft. Concertina wire should keep someone from stealing loaves of bread, regardless of how hungry they may be. A blanket is easily draped over razor wire, permitting a means of surmounting it. Wide moats with fearsome beasts or vast barren zones, ‘death strips’, where between guard towers transgressors are easily espied and targeted, can be effective. Stone walls can have broken glass mortared into their tops to thwart the hungry.

What a child  is taught can be far different than the truth. “It’s what you know that counts.” It’s who you know. “You have to share.” Get yours while you can. “All men are created equal.” The rich are different. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” No Irish need apply. Wops go home. Chinks not welcome. “Put yourself in their shoes.”

Two thousand years ago, the proudest boast was civis romanus sum [“I am a Roman citizen”]. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is “Ich bin ein Berliner!”… All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner!”  JFK may not have meant to restrict his words to those in Berlin, they may have meant that all people yearn to be free.

A fence needn’t have gates. Gates are added weak points. Gates maybe needed to allow in goods, supplies and low paid workers. Careful accounting of all entries and exits should be maintained. At diamond mines the low paid workers submit to daily x-rays. They are expendable. Even management is expendable. The lords however are not. Gates can be doubled or trebled, providing multiple protection for one’s riches. Double entry systems are prudent. One way gates can be useful as well, insuring that egress is available. Gates should be large enough to allow the efficient flow of goods and low paid workers but not so large as to be unenforceable.

The loaves and fishes parable is about sharing. Everyone wants a loaf and fish. In the land of plenty maybe a fence should let in a little light and air and occasionally someone hungry enough to cross the wire.


DavidW - Publisher

Raised in obscurity and completely entranced with the notion that we should live our lives with the same valuable ethic that a conscientious hiker would, leaving no trace.