A short history of walls

Walls are not new to Americans. There used to be one on Wall Street.


Some Ancient History

The Chinese built a wall. We know it as the Great Wall of China. They’ve had their wall for more than a thousand years. It didn’t keep out the Manchurians – they came in through a gate, and it didn’t keep out the Europeans – they came by boat. It’s probably been more successful as a tourist attraction than as a defensive barrier. In fact, they’re restoring parts of it so that we can marvel at the engineering feat that created it.

The Romans had some walls at the edges of their empire. Most of us have heard of Hadrian’s Wall, but they built another in Tunisia, with the primary purpose of maintaining pax romana so they could concentrate on taxing the prosperity of the locals. Neither wall saved the empire.

Some Modern History

The French had a wall. They built it after World War 1 and called it the Maginot Line. The Germans flew over it in World War 2.

The Soviets had a wall. We called it the Iron Curtain. This one was a bit different. It wasn’t designed to keep people out but rather to keep people in. It came down in 1989. They pulled it down themselves.


The Israelis have a wall. You only have to watch the TV news to know how effectively that structure is maintaining peace and security. The Europeans can’t afford one but that hasn’t stopped some of their member states from putting up fences.

The Chinese are building an unsinkable aircraft carrier in the South China Sea, which is probably more at risk from climate change than the US Navy. It will be a lot less mobile than the US Seventh Fleet, and probably a lot less expensive to operate, but at least we’ll all know where it is.

People are cheering because Trump wants to build a wall between the USA and Mexico to keep the Mexicans in Mexico. He’s not satisfied with the existing fence. Maybe it’s got too many gaps because Congress decided not to continue funding the expansion of the so called high tech virtual fence in Arizona.

An interesting message from the Marines

The other night I was at the movies in New York. Before the movie started they showed a short film produced by the US Marine Corps, reminding us that all walls can be breached. You can watch it on You Tube.

Why do people think a wall is a good idea?

The answer is simple. If you build a wall you can point to it and say that you’re doing something about the problem.

Trouble is, building a wall will never solve the problem because migration is not the problem. Poverty and crime are the problem.

What needs to be addressed is the movement of narcotics across the border in one direction and of guns and money in the other. That will take a President and a Congress with the political courage to address the demand side of the drug problem in the US. (When did Nixon start the war on drugs?)

Helping the Mexicans to improve their quality of life at home will probably do more to stem the flow of people than building another wall.

IMG_0156Peter Mulraney is a creative writer from Australia. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, and Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic. He has also published colouring books and journals under the Sharing the Journey banner.


4 drivers of crime

Crime fiction explores personal motives, like revenge or jealousy, to explain why people commit crime. But what’s driving real crime?

Four drivers to consider:

  • Poverty
  • Lack of respect
  • Greed
  • Lack of political courage


You only have to look at the socio-economic demographic of the incarcerated population 2013-02-04 10.36.20to know this is true – if you’re brave enough to do that research.

The average cost of housing a prisoner in Australia is $292 per day or $106,580 per year, according to a recent Productivity Commission report. No doubt the costs are similar in similar jurisdictions across the western world.

It seems we can find the money to lock up the poor in our prisons but we can’t find the money to seriously address the causes of poverty in our societies.

Lack of respect

  • Lack of respect for women.
  • Lack of respect for children.
  • Lack of respect for minorities.

Why are there protests against rape and the failure to address it seriously in so many countries?

Why are we having enquiries into the sexual abuse of children?

Why is there a need for a #blacklivesmatter movement?

Why is domestic violence only now becoming part of the political agenda?

Respect does not have a dollar cost but it does require that we see each other as equal human beings.

Why is that so hard?


48This is the real reason why we all had to suffer the consequences of the so called Global Financial Crisis. This is the real reason why we are facing what Al Gore told us was the inconvenient truth of global warming. Most of those responsible don’t have a criminal record.

The reverse side of one person’s greed is the impoverishment of many. Think about the leaders of industry who pay themselves millions and their workers the basic minimum wage. What do you think the consequences of that are?

One term used to describe it is the working poor – people with full time jobs whose incomes fall below the poverty line in their society. You wouldn’t think it would be possible in some of the richest nations on earth – but it’s a reality for millions. Remember Mitt Romney’s comment on the 47% who wouldn’t vote for him?

Lack of political courage

Lack of political courage at both a national and personal level.

Politicians don’t want to rock the boat in a world of patronage, where taking the courageous stand will cost them their job. All political parties rely on ‘donations’ to survive.

Governments want to be re-elected. Everyone in government enjoys the trappings of power.

As individuals, we’re all looking after our own interests.

We have forgotten that we are part of a community.

Closing thought

The golden rule – ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.’ – can be traced back to two commandments Jesus gave to his disciples:

  • Love one another.
  • Love your neighbour as yourself.


There’s is nothing in the intention of the golden rule about screwing one another – either literally of figuratively.