I wanted to tell you a bit about my first story. “Auntie’s Magnificent Bricks” was written specifically for the MAGA 2020 anthology. I took a good look at the call for entries and said to myself, “Sure, I can give that a shot!” Here’s what the call for entries said:
MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. Create a Utopian future that was brought to us by President Donald J. Trump. How big will the wall be, and will it make things better? Will the UN & NATO be replaced by something better? Will Russia & China become our new allies, help us destroy ISIS, and get Iran & North Korea in line? Under Trump will we colonize in space, will The Smithsonian divulge secrets of ancient cultures, will the celebrities move out of the USA, or will we see Hollywood lose its grip on America?
TRUMP HATERS NEED NOT APPLY. Looking for the futurist perspective, peering years ahead, give us your take on what America will be like after Trump PUTS AMERICA FIRST. Will he unify the nation despite attempts to undermine his Presidency, restore America’s economy, end partisan politics, or maybe connects us with extraterrestrials? But this is a positive perspective on Trump being President, so don’t be negative.
I took this call for entries at its word, and the result is something a little more political and jingoistic than I might otherwise have written. After all, I’m a no-name just starting out on this writing thing, so I had to be sure that my story fit what was being requested to have a shot at publication.
That said, it’s not all politics and meme-culture (although Kek help me, there is some meme culture). I took the idea of the Wall, and pondered the idea of borders, barriers, and boundaries. There’s this idea in our culture, for as long as I’ve been alive (so, since at least 1980), that boundaries are inherently bad– that they only serve to be broken. Whether the lines are in a coloring book or on a map, there’s this idea that people should not be constrained (oppressed!) by these lines, but rather should take hold of their human freedom and break through these boundaries, thus breaking the chains of their own oppression!
The philosopher Stefan Molyneux states that “the basis of morality is essentially property“, a statement with which I find myself completely in agreement. [If this doesn’t immediately strike you as true, watch the video at the link, and explore some of his other related work.] Going a bit further, one of the key principles of property is borders, the definition of the property.
All of the greatest crimes that we as a (barely) functioning society recognize have to do with violations of property: Murder, Rape, Theft are all violations of borders. The first two are violations of bodily autonomy (a human’s primary property), the third is the violation of one’s things: one’s land, one’s objects, one’s food, etc. Kidnapping is theft of the person itself, which adds a bit of the extreme personal borders violation of murder or rape, likewise involuntary servitude (slavery). Pedophilia is the rape (or desired rape) of those who have not yet grown enough to be able to assert their own rights, which is why it is so particularly reprehensible. It’s rape².
Thus, to have a functional society, all the members of that society must have a firm grasp on this: Where does the property of one end, and another begin? What is “mine”, and what is “not mine”?
This question is at the bottom of every major policy question of our day. For example, Pro-Life advocates argue that the artificial termination of a pregnancy violates the borders of the bodily autonomy of the small human growing in a woman’s womb. Pro-abortion advocates proclaim that a woman has a right to do with her body whatever she wills, declaring that there is no other party, property, or border to be thus violated. This is why the one side sees murder where the other only sees “a medical procedure”.
It’s not just a modern question, however. In fact, the entire Bible is a history of God asserting His property rights over the world, of God instituting borders and telling His humans: “Don’t cross these lines!”, “This is your area,” and “this is Not you area”. This theme begins in the very beginning of Genesis: God has created Everything, including Humans, and has placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God tells them: “I’m giving you the whole Garden, all of it, to be yours, to eat from and enjoy, except this one tree, here. Don’t eat anything from this one single tree. This one tree is Not Yours.”
So naturally, Eve eats from that one tree and convinces Adam to do the same. They willfully violate the one border God set up. Why? Greed, envy, curiosity, the inability of women to respect the personal boundaries of other people, who knows? The fact is, they violated that border: this was the original sin. Yes, it was disobedience as we are so often taught, but that disobedience came in the form of a border violation. This is then further compounded when both Adam and Eve try to shift responsibility for this transgression away from themselves. The man blames the woman and the woman blames the serpent. Not only have they now violated the border between what is theirs and what is God’s, but now they are denying their own bodily autonomy, denying the basis of their own property. This completes a complete inversion of God’s Creation, this is the actual Fall, not the consequences later described. Adam and Eve are basically telling God “All things are ours, except our own beings, which are beyond our own control.”
This sounds familiar. Ever notice how some people demand all things from all people, but never take responsibility for their own selves? It’s the same story, since the beginning. The violation of borders is the core of what makes a sin, a sin. One cannot violate the borders of a country without sinning any more than one can rape without sinning. They are the same sin, only at different levels of personal closeness.
This is the concept I was dealing with when I wrote “Auntie’s Magnificent Bricks”: the importance of barriers and walls at all levels. Our protagonist, Jada, learns of a past where the borders and barriers necessarily to live as civilized beings were broken down, and the struggle of the previous generation to re-establish the much needed psychological, social, and physical barriers needed for civilization. She comes to understand why her aunt (and others of her generation) are always harping on “Dignity and Discernment”, and why The Wall is so much more than just a wall.
Yes, there is some political window dressing, but the main thrust of the story stands on its own, as a call for all people to practice Discernment and reclaim their Dignity.