I was watching the cartoon “Justin Time” with Alec one morning, and the topic was about The Great Wall of China (S1:E9). In the episode Justin asked his friend Olive why there was a wall. Olive’s response was, “to keep the people on the other side on the other side.” In the U.S., the debate continues over whether or not to build a wall. For some, it is important to keep the other people on the other side. Others believe we should let them all in.
What is the purpose of a wall, whether it is around your house, your school, or your nation? When my wife and I built the fence around our backyard, we wanted to accomplish two things. First, it kept our dogs and young toddler confined to the backyard and prevented them from getting out and possibly wandering the streets. It was for their protection and for our peace of mind. What was the other purpose? The fence was built to keep the people on the other side of the fence on the other side. If they wanted to get inside the fence, they had to be admitted through the front door. Obviously, their identity and intent was established before they were allowed entry. The fence serves its purposes, and as a result we have a certain measure of security.
The Great Wall of China served its purpose as well, which was to prevent an invasion of the northern enemies. The Chinese kept the people on the other side out. If someone wanted to get on the Chinese side of the wall, their identity and purpose would have to be established first. There are some Americans who want this kind of wall too. The ones in favor of it say it is prevent potential terror threats from entering our borders. They want to establish the identity and intent of would-be entrants. Not much different than the Chinese with the Great Wall, not much with you and your fence. People on both sides of this debate have some very strong feelings concerning a wall in the U.S. I have my feelings, but what this post is really about is building a wall around your mind.
Now, I am not saying we shouldn’t have open minds. My goal is to emulate Henry David Thoreau’s idea to “be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought.” I want to have an open mind and encourage it in others, but I think you also need to build a wall around your mind. If you are not carefully vetting what is going in, then how can you monitor what is taking up a permanent residence within your brain?
How about music for an example? Say you hear a really good tune on the radio. The music sounds great and the vocals are really on point. Never mind the actual lyrics, you like what you hear, and you hear it over and over again. But what are those words? Is the message positive or is it something else? There are some really great sounding songs out these days with a message that is not positive. The messages coming over the radio in some songs are ones of drugs, violence, and the degradation of women. There are artists that will glamorize these topics, make them cool. Now you might be thinking, “This is a childish example. Those songs don’t really harm anybody. They are just songs.” And you might be correct that this evil message cannot invade your mind, but what if you are wrong? Or what about your child, with his young impressionable mind? Does it have an effect on him as he listens to it in the car while you are singing along?
About a week ago, my son had trouble sleeping and was scared. My wife was concerned and asked what was wrong. He said every time he closed his eyes he kept picturing a clown eating kids. Turns out that one of the kids in his Kindergarten class was taken to the movie “It” by his parents. The kid came to school the next day and told all his classmates. Chances are my son also seen the trailer on TV. The impression left on his mind was very real, enough to keep him awake at night.
Is this message appropriate for a 5 year old? The lasting effects of this one instance may not be great, but what about constant exposure to that and similar messages? We can rationalize it and say it is not that bad, but how many times can we do it before the “not so bad” imaginary violence becomes real? If we can justify listening to songs that degrade other people, how long does it take before we justify this belief in our minds?
Building a wall that vets all potential entrants into the nation may be a difficult debate going on right now. The choice to build a fence around your backyard to keep your kids safe and keep undesirable people out is a less difficult decision. Fortifying your mind against evil influences and properly vetting what your mind is exposed to should be a no-brainer. Protect your mind, build the wall.
It is possible that my view on a wall around your mind is incorrect. I would love to hear your comments.
“If anyone can refute me- show me I’m making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective- I’ll gladly change. It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone.” –Marcus Aurelius