Fortress Future

According to the news, there’s either a terrorist or a psychopath hiding around every corner*. We’re not even safe at home, apparently. It’s only a matter of time before we’re all slaughtered in our sleep**! If you listen to the alarmists in the media, you’re not only locking your doors, installing high-tech electronic surveillance, and going to bed with a baseball bat in hand, but waking at the slightest noise certain your home is being invaded. 

Dangers lurk everywhere, or so the fear-mongers would have you believe. Schools are now dangerous, so too are shopping malls, parking lots, and even, believe it or not, the local arena. ‘Crazies’ hide behind every corner…or so the 24-hour, soundbite-obsessed news would have us believe. 

Over-hyping and constantly repeating reports of violence has convinced many of us that modern society is a virtual war zone—where military assault rifles are given out like candies, gangs of teenage immigrants roam the streets looking for trouble, and every small-town liquor store is just moments away from being ‘knocked over’. The pervasive fear set to gnaw on our collective unconscious is ironic given that crime rates are, in fact, plummeting and every statistic tells us we are safer now than at any point in human history.

The truth, however, never gets in the way of a good panic. And that is what far too many of us do now, panic.

Any crime is, of course, tragic. But realistically most of us are perfectly safe—the odds of being a victim of terrorism, for instance, are comparable to being struck by lightning! Still, we worry. And there’s nothing wrong with taking a little precaution, right?

So, what can we do? humbly suggests we to look to the wisdom of our ancestors and…fortify. 

Modern builders use plywood, plastics, and glass. Materials that, though cheap and effective, are not very strong. We need to return to hardier ‘natural’ construction methods—wood and stone. The ancients knew a trick or two about holding off dangers and built with stone for a reason. (Medieval castles still stand 1,000 years after construction!) We need to rethink design and study citadels, garrisons, and stockades.

Humanity has used barriers to protect itself for millennia. The Chinese did it with ‘The Great Wall’, the Roman legions constructed fortified camps while on campaign, heck even ever-welcoming Canada had armed forts—the French fought the English, the English fought the Americans, and the American’s fought…everyone, including itself!

(What is Trump’s much-vaunted “big, beautiful wall”, you remember the one Mexico was going to pay for, but a modern-day extension of this thinking? Personally, we believe he just wanted something to hide behind—most bullies are, after all, cowards at heart.)

Castles were once symbols of strength and permanence. Refuges in times of trouble, these walled redoubts intimidated and protected. Sensibilities have long since changed. The danger of an invading army appearing over the horizon are slim in 21stCentury Canada but that doesn’t mean dangers aren’t very real. All it takes is one madman with a gun. And seeing an armed mob of crazed zealots attacking the US Capitol building with cult-like devotion reminds us how thin the veneer of civilization truly is. 

Today, if we want to build imposing defenses, we need to fortify on the sly. Special interests and high-priced lawsuits have made is so that it’s more costly to offend than to protect. Travel through any modern city and, if you look closely, you’ll see hidden barriers—giant planters are spaced to stop cars, solid walls are disguised with art and design. Add a bit of colour, burnish the steel, and people will walk past defenses that would make the old castle-builder jealous. Cities can, and have, built moats. But, because they were decorated with fish, fountains, and statuary, nobody noticed. 

We don’t need to turn our country into some sort of prison to protect us. With proper planning, some good architecture, and a bit of effort Canadian communities could be made safer and more beautiful at the same time. 

Not that we need it. Our country is among the most envied in the world. Ranking 2nd out of the 73 recently measured, only Switzerland placed higher, Canada earned 10 out of 10 for ‘Quality of Life’—meaning our nation is “safe, has a stable economy, a good job market, well-developed public education and health care [and is] politically stable”. Canada is also seen as the “most trustworthy” nation on the globe.

The price of freedom is, it’s been said, eternal vigilance. Watchfulness doesn’t come easy in modern society—people’s eyes seem locked on screens rather than the world at large—but that doesn’t mean we should give up. Walls might be the answer…or, more likely, they’re a multi-billion-dollar border boondoggle in the making. Changing our attitudes comes at much less cost to the taxpayer and will do far more to keep society safe. And despite all our complaints, Canadians will, as the song so proudly boasts, “stand on guard for thee”!

*Note: There isn’t!

**Note: It’s not!

Posted on: January 30, 2021, by :