Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall
that wants it down.from “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost
The image of protestors at the United States Capitol scaling the west wall for access to the legislative chambers, and to the elected Senators and Representatives of those chambers, is searing. Walls seemed to have been a theme these last four years of the Trump Presidency, from “Build the Wall” at the Mexican border to the metaphorically implied “take down the walls” of the protestors seeking access and change of Wednesday, January 6, 2021.
I’m an architect. My livelihood is all about walls: Does the exterior wall have a good foundation? Does it provide good moisture protection and thermal efficiency? Is it structurally sound? Does it look good not only from the outside, but from the inside? Does it connect well with the other parts of the structure: the floor, the roof, the ceiling, the exterior grade? Beyond these functional aspects, walls do other things: they can create a place of protection, they can create the place for the dreams of a homeowner or a business owner to come true, they can be places of healing and restoration of mind, body, and soul, they can be places to remember our history and who we are as a people, they can be places of appreciation and participation of the performing arts and visual art.
Yet, walls can also be a source of division. And there are walls among us – the ones we can’t see, and not described in the physical sense just mentioned. There are walls that are labels, judgments, prejudices, biases, mindsets that separate us one from another. I wonder continually: How did it get to be this way? Are these truths really self-evident that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Do I think that, and act on that daily life? What am I doing to break down walls so that this true in our society, and bringing it home, in my community? Have I really identified the walls in my life that separate myself from others? I should be diligent to figure out the wall of a thought process or attitude got built that way, and figure out how to dismantle it.
I have more questions than answers right now, but I am grateful for the communities of relationships I have that can allow me and encourage me to face these hard questions and to be encouraged to change. I remain grateful, particularly to my F3 (Fitness, Fellowship, Faith) brothers, here at F3 Princeton, and my more distant brothers in F3Nation, who continue to sharpen me like iron, forge me like steel to be resilient and durable, and who have allowed me into their lives to share their joy and their pain. Each time I workout with my brothers at West Windsor Community Park, it is a new day and I have the honor and privilege of experiencing with them the dawn of a new day: What are the challenges and opportunities of the new day? Am I going to build a wall or take one down?
Curtis Hoberman, F3Dos Equis, 10 January 2021