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Walls Are Not the Answer

APRIL 10, 2023
Diane Maher is the 2019 South Dakota Mother of the Year®

“America, this is your Mother speaking. Wake up. Stop building walls.

About 4 months ago, I read an article on NPR, National Public Radio, that has stuck with me.  The article described a situation at the border of Denmark and Germany and involves some very proliferative wild pigs, or boars, that pose a threat through spread of disease to domestic pig farms. One solution focused on building a fence.  What struck me was the idea that while the fence initially sounded good, there was no evidence that it would actually help solve the problem, and importantly, it would create a multitude of problems itself. 

I have since thought about many issues that we build walls around, or right through: climate change, school shootings, health care, and even abortion. These walls only divide or distract us from actually focussing on the complexity of the problem and implementing interventions that may help. They often sound good in 10 second sound bites, but lack evidence regarding their effect.  

While the issues of immigration and refugees deserve a speech longer than 3 hours, and I have less than 3 minutes, I want to say: the wall at our Southern border provides a false sense of “security” and belief that the problem has been “solved”  in what is truly a humanitarian crisis. America – follow your current laws, welcome those claiming asylum, process their claims in a timely manner, and treat each person with dignity and respect. Let’s lead the world by our example of generosity and respect for human rights.

On a more personal note, my grandparents and parents showed by example what is possible if you bring down the walls around your own family, and invite others in.  My grandparents and parents were foster parents for many years. While I have not yet followed their example, it has been on my heart to do so. I want to thank all those who have welcomed “strangers” into their homes through foster care or adoption services. Foster and adoptive parents are prime examples of living the Golden Rule and show true respect for life. This is why I have chosen the Children’s Home Society as my Golden Rule organization. The Children’s Home Society provides comprehensive care, including emergency shelter, an advocacy center, residential treatment with education, as well as adoption and foster care services. They have also implemented a program called Bright Start, which is designed to help first-time expectant moms focus on their own health and well-being so they can have healthier babies. These types of programs are essential for removing walls in our communities.   

America, stop dividing yourself with walls, learn to see a problem with all of its complexities and evaluate proposed “solutions” based on the evidence that is available and envision solutions that include a multitude of approaches. ”

Diane grew up on a family farm and then attended South Dakota State University where she majored in Microbiology and met her future husband, Rob. Diane then entered a graduate program at the University of Minnesota, earning a PhD in the Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology Program. After having their first child, Diane and Rob chose to move to South Dakota with the desire to raise their family in a smaller community. Over the next 10 years, Diane balanced advancing her research career in Cancer Biology and caring for their growing family of 3 children. Diane also carved out time to be an active member of their church and be help lead the PTA at school. In 2016, Diane followed a calling to focus on patient care and entered the Accelerated Registered Nursing program at Augustana University. She has been working as a Home Hospice RN for the past year.


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