Frontiers Not Walls

Published December 14, 2018

History tells us that border walls never work. The Sumerian Amorite Wall built in the 21st Century B.C.E. that extended one hundred miles from the Tigris to the Euphrates actually marked the beginning of the fall of the Sumerian Empire. The Great Wall of China was repeatedly breached by Mongol invaders and also failed to prevent the Manchu Qing Dynasty from supplanting the Han Chinese Ming Dynasty in 1644. The Manchu Qing Dynasty continued to rule China thereafter until the Republic of China was established in 1911. Today the surviving restored portions of the Great Wall of China are nothing more than a tourist attraction. The Berlin Wall survived only a brief twenty-eight years from 1961 to 1989 and its destruction marked the end of the East German regime who built it. 

National greatness is measured not by the height of protective walls but by the vitality of a people engaged in taming frontiers. At first these frontiers were forests, deserts, mountains and arctic wastelands. Then came the technologies that allowed mankind to tame the vastnesses of the world’s seas and the thin envelope of atmosphere above our heads. Today, the new frontier that beckons us is the immense resources found throughout our solar system. Future generations will one day even embark upon the vast void that separates us from the nearest stars. As President John F. Kennedy declared in 1962 “we choose to go to the moon in this decade, and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Let us once again choose to do the hard things like colonizing the moon, Mars and the outer solar system. In the words of Russian rocket pioneer Konstantin Tsiolkovsky” “the earth is the cradle of mankind, but a man cannot live in the cradle forever.”