Letters

Do fences make good neighbors or just put off problem solving?

Your Oct. 19 editorial, "A world of fences," gives short shrift to the fact that nations are different worlds – often startlingly so. Supposed globalization is neither a done deal nor even desirable, and a fence is certainly a statement of sovereignty.

When economic disparity exists, attempting to make economies uniform always means someone loses what someone else gains, which is hardly fair. We see it now that millions of illegal aliens are on our doorstep.

US citizens picked the fruit long before cheap illegal labor drove wages down, and many among our 14 million unemployed and underemployed citizens would gladly take on the work again if they were given fair pay.

The real issue here is interior control – attrition through enforcement – that holds the government and the employers and landlords of illegals accountable for breaking the rule of law. Without the economic prizes of jobs, housing, and welfare – at the expense of taxpaying American workers – most illegal aliens would return home because they would have nothing to gain.

Regarding those other unsolved issues: Crime has existed since time immemorial, and "good fences make good neighbors," as Robert Frost quoted his neighbor as saying.
M.L. Pinkard
Lafayette, Calif.

Your Oct. 19 editorial about fences was outstanding – well thought out and well written. It ends by saying that, "[F]ences stand as sentinels to unsolved problems...." and that these issues "will need facing up to."

When Korea was divided into North and South, the two nations talked less with each other and, consequently, understand each other less today. This has led to increased trouble between them.

Currently, Syria wants to talk with Israel, but Israel has dismissed Syria's offer. Many Israelis feel that war with Syria is inevitable. Would war be preferable to talking?

Governments could save a lot of time, money, and lives by dealing with their problems promptly and solving them realistically.

Unsolved issues need facing up to in our personal lives as well as in international relations. In 1943, as a sophomore in college, I was afraid of everything and everybody. Then I asked myself, "What would happen if your worst fears were to come true? Which is worse, your fear or having your fears realized?"

"Oh," I said, "the fear is worse." Then the solution was evident: Go out and meet the fears and deal with them as soon as possible.

Fear of terrorists was the reason the US was willing to engage in a preemptive war. Fear is the reason we tolerate the loss of habeas corpus, the inhumane treatment of prisoners, the death of our sons. We have been led to think that it is unpatriotic to ask how we can better understand why some Muslims and Arabs hate us enough to be suicide bombers. We need to stop being afraid and go on to solve the world's problems instead of making them worse.
Eunice B. Ordman
Memphis, Tenn.

In response to your Oct. 19 editorial on fences that have been put up around the world: In their walling-out form, fences are about ownership rights. Those who have developed good societies with low crime rates, high incomes, fairness, and social peace have a right to enjoy these things without having to worry about "there goes the neighborhood." Your editorial's lamentations about unsolved problems are properly directed to those being kept out. The unsolved problems are theirs to solve.
Jim Hemenway
San Ramon, Calif.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted will appear in print and on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to (617) 450-2317, or e-mail to Letters.

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