At times we hate gates, at times we like them. It's just human nature

September 12, 2017

 

 

There is a good bit of hate about gates and fences going on these days.

 

Nationally it has to do with a big border fence on the country's south side. Some hate the idea, others love it.

 

In Mississippi, gate hate is happening with new efforts to create more gated communities.

 

Let's be honest: Gates have been an issue back to the "Garden." Whether literal or metaphorical in your mind, I doubt Adam and Eve liked being gated out of Paradise.

 

"Gate hate" is human nature. 

 

The focus now is on the capital city of Mississippi, where the City Council is wrangling about an ordinance to let qualifying homeowner associations erect gates around their neighborhoods. Similar efforts are being attempted around the state.

 

The gate haters say that putting physical barriers around neighborhoods equals pushing a new kind of segregation. But since the proposed gate ordinance requires them to be public access, a literal segregation argument sinks.

 

Ashby Foote, Jackson’s Ward 1 Councilman, has admirably championed this effort to allow qualified homeowner associations/neighborhoods to apply—and if approved—erect public access gates. 

 

He explains, “The value added to the neighborhoods or communities that deploy them is all about security. They want neighborhoods that are safe for their children to ride bicycles in which means slower paced traffic.”

 

Foote adds: “They want to deter breaking and entering by having cameras that take pictures of all vehicles that leave the neighborhood. This happens by way of cameras that interact with gates that stop vehicles before they exit the neighborhood. These features by the way also make the Jackson Police Department more productive in performing their assigned duties. A safer Jackson is a win-win for all Jacksonians and the metro area as a whole.”

 

Foote is completely correct. I thank him for his efforts.

 

The most interesting thing to me, however, isn’t crime concerns or barrier squabbles.

 

My bigger interest is in the purported psychological issue raised by "Hate Gate." Is that possible?

 

Clarion-Ledger reporter Justin Vicory noted in an August 24 article that some gate critics say “that separating one neighborhood from the rest of the city is not only a physical barrier, but a psychological one” (CL, Aug. 24, 2017, Page 3A).

 

Putting up gates to discourage crime and vandalism is one thing. As for people’s psychological feelings, that argument can’t factor into a vote.

 

Why? Because government doesn’t “feel.” People feel. Government offers protection, not psychological adjustments or counseling.

 

That being said, decent human beings who favor gates might try to understand the Gate-Hater psychology. Decent humans do try to understand other human beings. Decent human beings attempt empathy. 

 

What follows is my attempt at empathy and understanding.

 

So we’ve all bumped up against gates in life.

 

As a child, when I encountered a gate between me and a ball field or jungle gym or some other cool attraction, I did not like that gate. I usually climbed over it. Even worse, sometimes other kids were playing behind that gate; I hated that gate and found myself shamed and retreating to hide somewhere.

 

Then came my adult gate stage, where I've found that things are nuanced. For example,

 

-- A fantastic duck hunting club has a gate. It keeps me from roaming the land in pursuit of these winged wonders. That seems to me to strike against Arlo Guthrie’s song, “This land is your land, this land is my land.” Even worse, the club lets the ducks in but keeps me out! Nonetheless, a gate is a gate. I deal with it.

 

-- Country clubs often have gates. They may let you drive onto the grounds, but the real gate/barrier for me is a pricey membership.  While memberships are fair things, they don’t feel good to people who can’t afford them. Again, however, a gate is a gate.

 

-- Private schools have gates. These Mississippi gates started in the early 1970s in the form of stock ownership needed for a child to attend certain schools. A stockholder whose child graduated would only sell his/her stock to an “acceptable white family.” An unseen gate was maintained. Still, to butcher the poet, a gate "by any other name" is a gate.

 

Here’s the deal: If you’re inside the gate, it’s great. If you’re outside of it, it can breed hate or resentment.

 

We all are Gate Haters at some point in life - maybe even now. We resent being cut out of big deals or out of  "in groups" or out of super supper clubs.

 

We often resent "gate-like" barriers to a better life.

 

A person can develop a real attitude.

 

My dictionary defines an "attitude" as a "feeling." That sounds a bit psychological.

 

Maybe there is a psychological issue to gates after all.

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© 2017 MississippiMatters

MississippiMatters is a news blog of cooperative writers, videographers and podcasters published by  The Well Writers Guild, a 501c3 devoted to mentoring Mississippi writers and to addressing uncovered or under-covered topics.  MississippiMatters focuses on offering creative "takes" on our state's culture, ideas, events and more.