Another Brick in the Wall
The terrible costs of war are almost impossible to calculate. However, let me try to give just a little perspective.
At first glance, this may appear to be a humorous column. It’s not.
I’m building a cement wall in my backyard. Yesterday, I unloaded 120 cinder blocks off a rental truck weighing 28 pounds each, plus ten bags of mortar. Then, I carried everything into the back, two bricks at a time, which took me almost three hours. In a few days, I’ll mix the cement, lift each block into place, make a huge mess, and slowly begin building my wall.
Total Cost: $220.
Time: 16 hours (estimated)
Construction is hard work. It’s brutal on the 56-year-old body, especially if you’re doing things manually (without machines and tools). The weather is cool now here in Las Vegas, but it must be excruciating to do construction work full-time in the summer when temperatures soar to 116 degrees and everything gets so hot to the touch, your hand can get scorched.
I don’t like construction work. I’d much rather be drinking wine and wasting time arguing politics on Facebook.
Construction work sucks.
You’re looking at a photograph of someplace in Syria.
I don’t know the name of the city. It doesn’t matter.
Take a closer look at all those buildings, all the walls, all the cement dust, all the destruction. Then, multiply what you see in this photograph by 100,000 or 1,000,000 or 10,000,000. I have no idea how massive the destruction is in that country. It’s probably incalculable.
Think of how many walls in Syria and other parts of the world plagued by war need to be torn down. Then, removed. Then, new bricks and cement need to be trucked in. Finally, each brick must be set into place.
Think of the cost. Think of the time needed. Think of the labor.
It’s almost unfathomable to contemplate.
But the work must be done. One brick at a time.
I’m building a wall which takes me two full days. In some ways, I have it easy. There’s nothing to tear down or remove. No bombs are falling on me from the sky while I work. No walls will collapse and kill me. It’s a simple job.
I have the luxury of taking breaks. I can grab a drink anytime. I have my music playing in the background. There’s a toilet just a few steps away. I will enjoy a nice lunch and an even better dinner. I will sleep in a comfortable bed at night.
Sure, it’s a tough job. I will have body aches afterward. But it’s a hell of a lot easier than what some people are faced with in another part of the world.
I’m not going to complain that my back aches. Some people have it a lot tougher.
As I was carrying all those bricks yesterday I thought of the people in Syria and other places in the world suffering the cruel fate of war — people I do not now and likely will never meet. It’s always the innocent who suffer most, often women and children.
Most of those people who will end up doing all the heavy lifting and trying to rebuild their walls and lives did no wrong. They committed no crimes. They had nothing to do with the brutal hostilities which led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands and the current refugee crisis resulting from millions fleeing the terror. Yet those still in Syria and other places are the ones who will be forced to lift the bricks, mix the mortar, and construct a new society hopefully with a better future than the past.
My aches and pains will be multiplied a hundred-million times over by people who likely are not as healthy or well fed or safe.
Worst of all for those willing to work and build new walls is not knowing what will happen ahead. I’m confident that my wall will stand. Nothing poses any threat to its construction. But what about those new walls built in that devastated faraway place? Will they last? If so, for how long? Will another bomb fall? Will there be a new war?
Building my wall gives me some perspective about the horrific costs of war. Those who pay the highest cost of the destruction are often those who least deserve to bear the burdens, but always end up paying for the sins of the wicked.