Tim Marshall was Diplomatic Editor and foreign correspondent for Sky News. He has written for many of the national newspapers including the Times, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, and the Sunday Times.
After thirty years’ experience in news reporting and presenting, Tim left full time news journalism to concentrate on writing and analysis and his latest book 'Divided. Why We Are Living In An Age of Wall' is available now.
Q) All the examples of walls that I can think of seem to have bad effects for people on at least one side of them or have bad feelings about them. For example, the Berlin wall, the wailing wall, Hadrians wall. Has there ever been a good wall in history? If all walls have bad things to do with them why do they keep being built? From lively_tomato, Skellefteå
A) Hi Lively Tomato, your question has the answer in it! It depends on which side of the wall you are. A good example is the Walls of Constantinople (now called Istanbul). There were many attempts to attack the city – but the walls kept out the different attackers for 1,000 years. You could say that was a good wall which worked.
Q) What can we do to help against this situation? From noble_crab, Michael Faraday School
A) Hello Noble Crab. Walls are almost always built because of fears about security. So, if you can reduce the fear, you reduce the need to build. Some of the new walls are built because so many people are moving from one place to another – for example from Bangladesh to India. If you deal with why they are moving then fewer will move. But, here’s where it gets tricky. Some move because of bad treatment by their government, and some move because climate change means their farmland is no good anymore. This is tricky because its not up to the Indian government to tell Bangladeshi’s government what to do – and tricky because climate change is happening everywhere. What can YOU personally do? Support better treatment of people, and do your small but important bit to reduce waste and energy use.
Walls are almost always built because of fears about security. So, if you can reduce the fear, you reduce the need to build.Tim Marshall, Author
Q) Do you believe that Donald Trump could have thought of alternatives to building such a dividing factor as a wall? From honorable_conclusion, Weston Favell Academy
A) Yes. But don’t forget he was democratically elected and that a big part of his message to voters was that he wanted to build it. However, alternatives might be to use the massive amount of money for the wall to build hi tech centres to register and process people arriving at the border. Another could be to help the countries in Central America, such as Honduras, to have a better economy so more people have more money and then they might not want to move to America to try and have a better life.
Q) Do you think physical borders or mental borders are worse, which one? From easygoing_rabbit, Highdown School
A) Hi Easygoing. I can’t choose because one is as bad as the other, and because one leads to the other. If in your mind you are divided from other people in what’s called a ‘them and us’ mentality, then you may end up trying to physically divide yourself from them. On the other hand, if you are physically divided from someone, it can lead you to thinking you are mentally divided from them. As a starting point it helps to think of humanity as one because even though there will inevitably be difficulties, and sometimes conflict between us, if we start from thinking we are united perhaps we can reduce how divided we sometimes become.