Dear Mr. President,
Today I've been thinking a lot about walls. Right now it feels like it's about 1,000,000 degrees in my apartment, so, while wondering what to write to you, I got more than a little agitated. I know what I want to write. I want to write about PM Netanyahu's visit. But writing to you about foreign policy is a lot like banging my head against a wall. I write, impassioned and angry and sometimes in tears. I feel better. I print or copy the letter, address the envelope and affix postage. I wait. Weeks later, I receive a form letter from your office thanking me for writing. I hold this form letter in my hands as the headlines scroll up my screen. More people are dead. Or arrested. Or homeless. Or starving. And we welcome the Israeli Prime Minister and assure the world that our policies of absolute support will continue. And the IRS hands out tax breaks to donations that support the very settlements we claim to have stopped. And I bang my head a little more hopelessly, each day.
But walls are not just for banging one's head in frustration. Walls keep us safe from the elements, they support roofs, they keep us warm and sheltered and make caves or holes in the mud more like homes. There are a number of walls in Gaza that have been knocked down over the past few years. Knocked down by bombs, knocked down by bulldozers and knocked down by nature. But still, the material to rebuild them is forbidden. But because cooking spices have been permitted through, the Israeli government is praised for their efforts. The list of banned items may be shorter, but normalcy, or the kind of economic stability that would help create a stable society, are still too threatening to be permitted past the checkpoints.
And still other walls are only to divide. To divide people from other people, to divide land and power and resources, to confine or exclude or dominate. Sometimes they make a nice canvas. I've even heard these walls make great projector screens, in a pinch.
Don't worry about that dull thumping noise, Mr. President. Even when it's 1,000,000 degrees, and I'm hopeless and frustrated and so angry I could cry, I still live on the side of the figurative Wall that allows me to live inside my walls and bash my head against them. I'm one of the lucky ones.