Since the very beginning, man has had the urge to mark his territory. To make boundaries to live within. First, they were caves, then villages, then kingdoms and now nations, which are then even further dissected into states, zilas, and districts. These boundaries also led to the growth of different cultures, religions, sects, lifestyles, etc. However, with the embankment of these boundaries, there was a certain thought that almost came instinctively to man – my kingdom over others. In an attempt to save themselves from the prospective ‘enemy’ nations, they began to spend on manufacturing weapons. This thought leads to the growth of arms, ammunition, weapon, wars, nuclear missiles, etc.
But let us wait and think for a second. What would have happened if we never built walls and boundaries in the first place? What would that have been like? With a similar concept, Robert Frost had written a poem, ‘Mending Wall’. In the poem, the author throws some light on this thought.
The poem is about two neighbors who share a fence, and this fence keeps falling down due to various unknown reasons. Every time it does the neighbors get together to mend the wall and get it back up. The poem is a dramatic monologue by one of the neighbors who has an apple orchard and believes that there is no need to have a wall. But his neighbor who grows pines is of the belief that walls are necessary and keeps stressing that ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
The neighbor’s relation is based more on respect than friendship. The neighbor has the primal urge to keep his land safe against unforeseen difficulties and the only way he knows how to do this is by setting up a wall. According to him, by keeping a distance he is maintaining good relations. The author shows the nature of humans through this poem.
A poem by Rabindranath Tagore ‘Let my country awake’, also expounds this problem. It is a pre-independent poem in which the poet sincerely urges God to awake his fellow beings for the realization that the essential need to live in a free and united country. There is a line in the poem which says, ‘Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls.’ It shows that united we have a lot more strength than when we are broken into sects.
At times like these when we are all battling against a bigger enemy, the Coronavirus, we begin to realize that we are all fighting in a difficult predicament and trying to survive. And after all, we are not that different from each other. It might be too late to break down all the walls now, considering the enormous amount of political power it will require to do so, in addition to a million other complications, but it is for sure an interesting thought to process in our mind and fantasize about.