It may not have been terribly noticeable in our day to day, but the shutdown is over. It ended on a nice, round number — 35 days – and now that the president is just 18 days behind the all-time record for days under a government shutdown (hang in there Jimmy), the discussion returns to a border wall. The debate pretty much picked up where it left off – the cost, the morality, the effectiveness.
To that end, Fox News recently quoted Hungarian and Israeli officials as saying walls in their respective countries have been effective in curtailing illegal immigration. Specifically, the network quoted Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, Isreal's U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon and recycled a few tidbits from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The other thing to consider here is issues of scale. Fox said Hungary built two fences along its borders with Serbia and Croatia. That's between 200 and 300 miles by my estimate (well, Szijarto's too, he said 500 kilometers — him and his fancy metric system). That's about a sixth of what the U.S. supposedly needs to secure. Isreal's wall on the West Bank is close to 400 miles long, so more like a fifth of the 1,900-plus miles of the U.S./Mexico border.
So, out of 190-some countries in the world, two have come forward saying the Trump Administration's wall idea is a good one. They also happen to be the same two countries which have built their own border walls within the last 17 years.
There are, of course, a couple of other countries which built border walls before that — dynastic China and divided Germany. I'm sure in both cases the short-term success was taken for long-term success. But we all know what happened. The Mongols still got in. The sledgehammers came out. Kublai Khan founded the Yuan Dynasty, and David Hasselhoff victoriously sang "Looking for Freedom" over the Berlin Wall.
The walls came down. They never serve their purpose in perpetuity. Dare I say, they never actually solve the problem they're meant to address. They merely keep it at arm's length. We tell ourselves, as long as the problem isn't here with us, it's not a problem. As long as people are starving, dying or otherwise threatened outside our walls, we can maintain our Utopia. We keep what is ours, and they keep what little is theirs.
All the while, we have this tendency to believe what we've gained is indeed ours rather than a blessing to share. Historically, that's why the Monguls wanted to come to China in the first place, which sounds somewhat familiar. So perhaps, as a Christian nation, we should be focusing more on sharing what God has given us before it's taken away and given to the proverbially good, and faithful servant.
Oh! And Jericho! Can't forget that one. You know, the biblical story about a large group of migrants who are told that the land someone else is occupying is theirs for the taking, and the walls came-a-tumblin-down, so they "destroyed with the sword every living thing in it — men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys." I think that's something for a Christian nation to mull over in this situation.