Home Commentary Open forum Circumstances Make a Fence Needed, if Not Wanted

Circumstances Make a Fence Needed, if Not Wanted


Dear Source,
I am no fan of fences and walls. They divide society and isolate its members. Walls inhibit the development of community and thus reduce social capital acquisition. Social capital is both glue and lubricant in society. It binds members in community through a common set of shared values, and it provides for mobility among members of the community through the networks it produces.
Fences and walls prevent formation and use of the glue and the lubricant. I am no fan of impediments to a harmonious and egalitarian society.
As a member of a condominium association on St. Croix, I am advocating for a fence to surround my dwelling. A fence will reduce access by the community to the condominium campus. It will reduce public access to the beach that is part of the land upon which the development sits. My advocacy for a fence places me squarely in a position of mental and moral conflict.
What has visited this circumstance upon me was a recent break-in and armed robbery of citizens in the condominium community. The citizens were not seriously hurt but were seriously frightened. The assailants remain at large. It is this risk of crime that builds fences. It is the threat of harm that excludes the wider public.
It is the uncontrolled, self-centered, violent behavior of the few that tears the fabric of community and reduces social interaction. These few live in the community. They are known by the community and need to be identified unanimously by the community, even by their families, that their behaviors may be put to an end. There will exist a fear of revenge or retribution. This fear evaporates when a community is united and stands together against any tolerance of violent behavior.
When crime and the threat of violent crime are reduced, community among people expands; networks are re-established and social capital flows. When crime and threat of violent crime is reduced, fences will not be built.
I am no fan of fences and walls. It is clear the rest of my fellow citizens are not fans of fences and walls, either. Removal of fences and walls depends upon removing their cause. It can occur only when violent crime is removed, and that takes the entire community network working together, regardless of the cost. Whatever the cost, it is a small price to pay to remove the barriers between our lives.
Michael Whitner
St. Croix

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