May 26, 2024

I’ve been thinking about that old saying, “Good fences make good neighbors.” While we often focus on the negatives of division, it seems of late we’ve completely forgotten the benefits of boundaries. 

Advertisement

There seems to be this push for countries to be borderless, for rules to be bent — even outright broken — without consequence, for property to be commandeered, for privacy to be stripped, for constants to be fluid, for basic truths to be upended. 

We’ve seemingly forgotten where the boundaries of rights and responsibilities belong. Instead, we’re treated daily to a deluge of blurred lines and shifting moral sands. And what’s the inevitable result of that? Disorder. Chaos. We’ve come unmoored.

I wasn’t certain of the origins of the saying. It’s attributed to Robert Frost’s 1914 poem, “Mending Wall,” though it likely harkens back much earlier to an old proverb. Frost appears ambivalent about the notion, his narrator questioning its wisdom, even while the act of mending the fence between their properties brings the two neighbors together. 

But as with most dichotomies, I believe the answer lies somewhere in the middle — the balance struck between intrusion and isolation, between boundaries respected and community welcomed. The beauty of fences is the ability to see and speak through (or over) them. 


This “Moore to the Point” commentary aired on NewsTalkSTL on Wednesday, May 1st. Audio included below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *