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I’m going to plant a flag on this issue.
Please hear me, I respect the opposing view. I just don’t share it.
The truth is, God gave the whole earth to the human race and told us to go forth, be fruitful, and multiply.
Even when he gave Israel to the children of Jacob, he warned them to treat the foreigners nicely; that they would be evaluated, as a nation, by their hospitality toward them. All through the Old Testament stories, there are prominent foreigners sharing the lives of Israelites (e.g. Uriah the Hittite) at a high level.
I have Scandinavian heritage, and you have the right, in my ancestral homeland (the Swedes call it “Allemansrätten”), to wander across anyone’s property, as long as you respect their privacy and leave everything the way you found it. And you can camp for free on anyone’s land, as long as you don’t disturb anyone or make noise, for up to two nights.
I believe in the right of every peaceful man or woman on Earth to be able, unhindered, to:
- Travel anywhere on planet Earth he or she can afford to visit. As long as you pay your way and are not a burden.
- Seek and take gainful and respectful employment anywhere it is legitimately offered.
I don’t believe in gated communities.
I don’t believe in national fences that keep people in (Berlin Wall) or keep people out (Mexican border at Tijuana).
All God’s people have access to all God’s world.
People of Western/Northern European ancestry have no greater right to staying in my California county than people of Latino ancestry.
And I believe that a mobile population is good for the economy. Anytime free labor can find its way to free capital, there is prosperity for all. That’s the free-market libertarian in me, talking.
Mobility is a basic human right.
The big question is: Do you see people as an asset or a liabilty?
Sure there are people who are one or the other. But on balance, how do you see the human race?
America was founded on the idea that people are, on the whole (and with some exceptions), an asset. Look at the Statue of Liberty. We saw the “huddled masses” of peasant Europe as an amazing asset. They built the farms that now feed us. Their blood now runs through our veins…
Overpopulation is a total myth. Europe and Russia are starting to decline in population. Most of America is empty (every spend much time looking down out of the window seat?). Our rural areas are depopulating. Detroit has thousands of acres of emptiness and some of it is returning to native forest. Sure there are areas of overcrowding, but Anglo North America could easily handle two billion people. (Currently 350 million). Our biggest challengers in this new century will be China and India, because they are blessed to have more people. More workers. More ideas.
We have to re-think transportation and energy–but that’s been done before and we can do it again.
People are not bad for the earth. People are beautiful and creative. We are the crown of creation. Made in the image of God.
I live in California. We are so blessed to have hard-working Latino and Asian immigrants in our midst. They have, together with us, built this state. I have driven all over our great state for the past ten years, and most of it is….empty. There is room for all–especially those willing to work.
You can’t have free markets (and I’m a free market guy) without freely mobile labor. We can’t put a fence around America.
My wealthiest California friends say “Unless we let inexpensive labor connect with our abundant domestic capital, we may as well ship all of our manufacturing to China.” Sobering.
Fences just accumulate and build up tensions, artificially. It’s where weapons tend to congregate. The barbed wire fence across Korea is a source of great tension right now.
Truth is, fences don’t work anyway. The Great Wall of China was a colossal failure. And the “Iron” Curtain rusted in one generation. Walls will always be breached, just like in medieval warfare. Eventually, European towns just quit building them because they were ineffective.
We have to learn to live together. It won’t be easy. There will be huge challenges.
We may have to get rid of the welfare state altogether to make for a workable world.
But building more fences is not the answer.
They won’t last.
They won’t work.
There is something un-American about gated communities.
Have a look at this short video clip of San Francisco before the earthquake. The freedom you see there is quintessential American.
We are, supposedly, the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Latin America has a lot of gated “pink zones” surrounded by barrios of poverty. Is that the direction in which we want to go?
I can understand private property, but that doesn’t include streets. Streets belong to everyone–that’s the whole idea of a street. We could argue for getting rid of tollways, too (which we should), but that’s a whole ‘nother blog topic.
We should all be able to stroll through any neighborhood in the USA, unhindered, as long as we are minding our own business and respecting the property of others.
We have the right to lock our homes, but not our streets.
How can we claim to be a free society if more and more of our neighborhoods are built with gate houses?
And have you ever driven through a gated community? It looks like a neutron bomb went off–everything is perfect, but the people are missing. Occasionally you see a human with a leaf blower.
Peaceful free passage through any residential neighborhood should be a basic human right. In fact, we should find a way to enhance security in airports without having to ID everyone all the way into the plane. We should have the technology to do so by now. A citizen should be able to travel peacefully and freely throughout the US without showing identification.
Mobility and interaction do much to increase a sense of community and mutuality. The safest streets are the ones with the most pedestrians. “Quiet and dead” neighborhoods are idea magnets for crime. Studies have shown (you can look it up) that gated communities actually offer a false sense of security.
It is small wonder that gated communities appear the most often in areas of the world where the canyon between rich and poor is the widest; and it helps to petrify this gap with security systems. Why would we want to reinforce those differences? Is the disappearance of a middle class something that we want to institutionalize, geographically?
In Sweden, there is a custom called “allemansrecht” or free access. Check this website for details. In a nutshell, you can cross anyone’s property (not just walk by on the street) as long as you are not being a nuisance.
And while we’re at it, let’s build sidewalks and create more pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. A community of garage doors does little to enhance livability. In most American suburbs, children without drivers’ licenses have no way to get anywhere–everything is built to the scale of the automobile. Small wonder that our suburban young people feel isolated.
By the way, Hell is a gated community! Matthew 16:18 (via Hal Seed)