Sense of Decency

Listening to others, seeing things through their eyes.

Photo illustration © Michelle Gabel


We need a better word, something stronger.

When we talk about divisions in the country and the ways we reinforce and protect our beliefs, we fall back on words like “echo chamber” and “bubble.” 

This is where we prefer to stay — our “safe space,” to use another popular term bordering on cliche. 

But bubbles can pop, and echo chambers don’t conjure up a sense of impermeability or invincibility.

Fortresses. There we go.

That’s what we have surrounded ourselves with — imposing structures with walls thick and high, with strategic vantage points we can hide behind to ward off attackers. 

Let’s throw in a moat. 

Without a bridge or even a drawbridge. 

We need at least one flag, of course, to fly high and let everyone know what we stand for — and what we are willing to fight against.

From the comfort of our fortresses we are secure and superior. 

From up high we can shout down at or fire upon any enemies who dare come close enough to even think about attacking our space, our ideals, our beliefs. How dare they! 

We focus so much on the enemy that we have forgotten about everyone else, those who don’t want to fight but rather are desperate for our help.

How about you?

What is your fortress made of? How high are your walls? How thick? 

What does your flag look like? What does it mean, what does it say about you?

Have you carried your flag into battle, waving it menacingly in the wind?

We all feel damn good about ourselves, so righteous, don’t we?

But here’s the thing. 

Confusion has set in. We haven’t thought things through, haven’t looked far enough into the future — or the past — if at all.

Inside our fortresses, conversations have become arguments. We spend precious time fighting among ourselves. How do we make the walls higher and thicker? Who gets to decide?

While we bicker over who should be in charge, we don’t notice that our flags have begun to tear, that the colors have started to fade.

No one notices the cracks in the walls or that the foundation has begun to crumble. The moat has dried up. We don’t even see the bodies in the dirt.

We are running out of food and water. 

We have plenty of weapons and ammunition, but where have our enemies gone? 

They are over there, trapped in their own crumbling fortresses. 

Who are they, anyway? 

What do we know about them? 

Why were we fighting against them?

What were we fighting for?

Jim McKeever is a co-founder of Sense of Decency.

7 thoughts on “How strong is your wall?

  1. Jim McKeever says:

    Reblogged this on Jim McKeever and commented:

    Is this a bubble? An echo chamber? Or something else, perhaps? Whatever it is, it has divided our nation.


  2. Well said, Jim! Thoughtful and provocative.


  3. Beautifully expressed.


  4. W.A. McLaughlin says:

    Thanks for sharing this Jim. All the constant references to ‘war’ and ‘enemies’ etc. are only paving the way to more violence and deeper division.


    1. Jim McKeever says:

      Thanks, Bill … And yes, people like Lindsey Graham and his incendiary comments don’t help.


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