The Westbrooks
∞ “Families are Forever” ∞

The Westbrooks

Fences

June 13th, 2008 . by Bruce

~ caveat lector ~

I’ve been put in charge of a valuable tract of land. The acreage is made up of streams, waterfalls, meadows, woods and lakes. There’s hardly a place where one could see anything but a fabulous view, or smell anything but lush vegetation, or feel anything but soft breezes.

Because the land is wonderful, I allow certain people to visit there. I want to share the experience with them, so from time to time they walk through the meadows or enjoy the other amenities.

Lovely as the land is, there are parts I feel compelled to keep fenced. I want to keep others out, whether because of safety concerns, or discretion, or whatever.

Really I don’t even need reasons. Decisions about how to manage this land are on my shoulders; I must make the choices and then bear the consequences.

But there’s a problem. Some of the people who come to visit cannot keep off the fence. They spend their time trying to break it down. They beat their heads up against it. They push their luck.

I shoo them away and reinforce the fence. I make it higher and stronger. I install warning signs, barbed wire, electric current. And when these people come back, I point out the reinforcements. “Here is the limit,” I tell them. “Enjoy what is on that side of the fence, but please don’t come past this boundary.”

They grumble, my visitors do. They are not happy with the strengthened fence. But they eventually wander off; I watch them go, hoping that they can enjoy the parts of the land I’ve allowed them to visit.

Sometimes long weeks or months go by where my visitors do not challenge the fence. They quietly peek over it, or maybe they mention in passing how charming is the view. But they do not waste their time trying to knock down the barrier.

“Perhaps they can be trusted with more,” I think during these times. “Maybe it’s time to relax a little.” So I take down the barbed wire. I consider moving back the fence incrementally.

Seeing an opening, my visitors then charge the new barrier. They butt up against it so hard that I can barely hold the gate ahead of their barreling charge. I add new reinforcements, extra electrification, higher boards. I move the fence further and further out, expanding their limitations. And my visitors complain.

Oh do they ever complain.

My visitors see no reason for the fence. They seem to believe that I have no right to keep them from the full run of the land. They claim that fencing even a part of it deprives them of some God-given right.

They want a vote in administering my land. But they seem to have no concern or idea of the magnitude of the potential long-term repurcussions from their mismanagement.

In complaining so vehemently, they lose their time on the land. Instead of exploring the part where they are allowed, they choose to argue at the fence. They turn their back to the beauty they can have in a quest to have more.

Have you broken the code? The land represents my life, my wife’s life, and the lives of our children - our family circle. The headstrong visitors are those that have crossed the line between loving, caring people and the desire to influence and direct our children’s perceptions - even my own - all under the pretense of ‘goodliness & godliness’ it would seem. The fence stands for the boundaries I’ve placed on what access they now have in our lives.

Eventually they may tire of trying to defeat it. At which point there are two possibilities.

They can accept us for who we are, understand that what they did was wrong to us, sincerely apologize and forgo any future attempts. We can then heal and move forward, reestablishing our connections with each other with new understanding.

Or they may decide to never make amends, choosing instead to leave altogether and taking solace in their perceived righteous indignation.

Sadly, that’s the chance I’ll have to take.

Until that time, I can’t take down the fence. They are banned to the other side of that reinforced barrier.

Because my family - my wife and my children - come first. Always and forever.

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