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Chesterton’s Fence

N. Jessup
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Kerby Andersonnever miss viewpoints

Over the last 15 years of doing this commentary, I occasionally use the famous quote from G. K. Chesterton; “Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.” A corollary might be don’t defund a program or institution merely because you haven’t used it in some time.

We live in a dangerous world. But it is easy to forget that if you live in a safe neighborhood and haven’t seen a war break out in Europe in more than seven decades. There are criminals, terrorists, and dictators that threaten us. It is easy to forget, until Vladimir Putin sends his Russian troops into Ukraine.

He scoffs at the civilized Western world. He uses his power and military might while giving little attention to diplomacy. In fact, many leaders idolize his quest for power and prestige. Perhaps that explains why Donald Trump continues to say flattering and disturbing things about Putin (as well as other dictators in China and North Korea).

NATO, the US military, law enforcement, and even the wall on our southern border are examples of Chesterton’s fence. We haven’t needed NATO for some time. Democratic leaders in Congress want to reduce the size of the military, which we don’t seem to be using very much. Why not defund the police? And isn’t it time to tear down the wall that President Trump was building?

Most people know the famous scene in A Few Good Men – “You can’t handle the truth.” But the next line from Colonel Nathan Jessup is relevant here: “Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns.”

Walls and people with guns (military, law enforcement) are what keep us safe and free. Vladimir Putin reminds us of that. The rising crime rate in our cities and the current flood of illegal immigrants also remind us of that.viewpoints new web version

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