Wealth and walls

Sometimes, the simplest story finds a place in your heart and mind. It’s like a wonderful piece of music, a sculpture you can’t stop looking at, a phrase from a centuries-old wisdom tradition.

On a recent program, NPR’s The Story, Yolette Etienne described finding her mother dead in the family’s garden after the Haitian earthquake. An Oxfam worker, she was one of the better off of Haiti’s citizens, though, I would guess, not wealthy by American standards. Nevertheless, her house had been in a neighborhood of walled-in gardens–the gardens of those who were better off than most. The earthquake brought down the walls, and then there was no longer a way to tell who had money and who didn’t.

There was ruin everywhere—but no more walls.

I don’t want to ascribe any particular meaning to the story—I have no rant to make about Romney’s millions or the awful gap between rich and poor. I don’t want to talk about God’s will for the wealthy or the impoverished, or how difficult it’s going to be for Romney to get through the eye of the New Testament needle.

It’s just that the story sheds light on wealth and walls. Spend some time with it. You may not feel better about the injustices that riddle our world, but your connection with the rest of humanity will be revitalized.

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One thought on “Wealth and walls

  1. Walls used to protect whole populations. Firstly from other species of animals as well as from other, possibly belligerent, groups of humans. Then, instead of protecting people, they started to be used to protect private property. As soon as you start stopping people from having access to something, you make that something highly desirable. Then we go from walls to bullet-proof doors and panic-rooms inside our modern castles.

    In some belief systems, anyone who owns more than he needs is considered to be a thief. Wealth is supposed to be a collective, not an individual, thing. Hoarders were originally mentally ill poeple. When did we all become hoarders?

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