Pope  warns  on walls;  we’re building bridges

E CARTOON Feb 03, 2019The issue of walls has long  bedevilled United States President Donald Trump. It is largely a local – to Americans—issue, but  it has somehow drawn  the attention of much of the rest of the world, partly because it involves the ongoing problem of migration, and  also because  walls represent  the idea of separation, of opposition, of prejudice, of pride.

Pope Francis  spoke   anew on  walls when interviewed in the Vatican by Mexico Television last Tuesday. “I   don’t know  what’s happening with this new culture of defending  territories by  building walls,” he said. “We already knew one – that one in Berlin, which brought so much headaches and so much  suffering.”

He recalled how  US immigration officials used to separate  children from their parents when they crossed  the border into the US from Mexico. “It is cruel. It is among the greatest of cruelties. And  to defend what? Territory, or the economy of a country,  or  who knows what?”

Many  US officials see Trump’s  wall  as a legal and constitutional issue. After the  US  Congress refused  to appropriate  the billions of dollars  he needed to build it,   Trump  declared a national emergency so he could divert already- appropriated military funds to build  the wall. Congress passed a law overturning the declaration of emergency, but Trump  immediately vetoed it.

We have no wall problem in our country. As a matter of fact, in at least two instances, we  opened our country to refugees  seeking safety from the turmoil in their own lands. The first  was  when  President Quezon allowed Jews fleeing Hitler Germany’s  Holocaust  to stay in the country. The second was when South  Vietnam fell to the North in the Vietnam War and  boatloads of  Vietnamese were allowed  to stay in Palawan until they could move on to the West.

And we are not  building  walls;  we are building bridges. Among the many roads  and  railroads,  airports and seaports,  schools    and other government  buildings that the Duterte administration is constructing  under “Build, Build, Build,” are  eight major bridges that will connect the various islands of the country from Luzon  to  Visayas  to  Mindanao.

Walls separate people; bridges bring them together. Pope Francis, leader of a faith which espouses love and  unity,  thus spoke out once again on walls in his interview this week.  He added a note of warning that should  not  be ignored: “Those who build walls end up being prisoners of the walls they build,” he said.