“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

You do not have to be a student of George Santayana to know this; you just need to remember your grade school and high school history reading. We humans built walls long before we learned how to write about them, and they seldom keep varmints or cattle out of our gardens.

Ancient Troy and China tried walls; Ulysses got inside, as did the Mongol horsemen, who finally ruled great China. Rome loved walls, and built and destroyed so many we are still finding them, scattered from Africa on as far as Britain, where Hadrian’s troops put up a good one, only to see it lugged off to build Scots and British cottages and sheep fences.

Our medieval ancestors put up castle after castle, most of them now in ruins where they still exist. France put up the Maginot Line, Hitler put up the Siegfried Line, same result.

The Soviets, our World War II allies, changed their minds soon after the shooting stopped and put up first the Berlin Wall, and finally an Iron Curtain, mental and physical, between what they saw as them and us. And the walls are breached: now conflicts of ideas and interest and theories increasingly wall us off from each other.

Our president wants to build a wall — somebody else will pay for it, of course — and he wants to throw out and keep out men and women who want only to live and learn and earn.

Please remember, you have a mind, a voice, a vote. Please use these to make your world, our world..

John Willey

Waterville