Saturday, November 12, 2016

If We Build the Wall (If It Be Your Will, Leonard Cohen)

A3: Good walls make good neighbours.
B3: Good neighbours make good walls.
- Us and Them, David Campton

I've been listening to If It Be Your Will on repeat since Leonard Cohen died because it so perfectly expresses my spiritual viewpoint.  Of the versions I've found, my favorite is the one by the Webb Sisters, which was the model for these lyrics.  This song has been a balm in the midst of the most divisive week I can remember.  The presidential elections have divided up the country to such an extent that demonization almost seems to be the norm, though I have been inspired by many friends doing their best to wage peace with a passion.

Every time I feel frustrated with dualistic thinking that pits one group against another, my thoughts turn to the short David Campton play Us And Them.  A simple but devastating tragedy, it depicts the gradual slide from neighborly behavior to all-out war as more and more unnecessary divisions are introduced.  In the play, the narrator is the only character who really has any insight into the whole horrible process, but here, I imagine the spokesperson of each group in a duet, wherein both slowly realize the harm that a wall could bring.

If We Build the Wall

If we build the wall
Where we draw our line,
Everyone will call
That division fine.
Chickens, sheep and swine
Won't wander off at all.
Neighbors?  You'll be mine
If we build the wall.

If we build the wall
That obstructs our view,
Borders will grow tall.
Lurid tales will, too.
Borders will grow tall
As we wonder what you do
If we build the wall
Twixt us and you.

If we build the wall,
We'll turn into spies.
Friendliness will fall;
Virulence will rise.
As suspicions sprawl,
Our animosity will swell
If we build the wall
And build it well.

As war draws near,
We'll spill our spite.
We'll fall prey to fear,
Turning from the light.
Turning from the light,
Stragglers will crawl
Into the night
If we build the wall.

We'll only fight
If we build the wall.
So, should we build the wall?
No, wisdom killed the wall.