It is written, thou shalt make a parapet for thy roof.
In the Middle East, houses are generally built with flat roofs, which then serve as additional living space, for sleeping, playing, even keeping animals.
These roofs, however, can be hazardous. Come too close to the edge, one can slip and plunge downward, with dire results. To avoid such dangers a barrier, a parapet, must be around the roof.
It is a commandment that we must not endanger any life, whether our own or another’s, in any way or form. Throwing a banana peel on the street where a passerby might step on it and slip is equal to a deliberate attack on the person.
Driving a car while under the influence of liquor or drugs, climbing a rickety ladder, mishandling machinery or weapons, taking foolish chances or accepting dares, all potentials for causing accidents. Whether through simple thoughtlessness, carelessness or oversight, if that accident happens the feeling of guilt falls heavily upon us.
If we were to build a parapet of safety around our thoughts and actions, the accident we prevent could be to our self, or the life we save could be our own.
The word parapet comes from the Italian word parare “to cover or defend,” and petto “beast.” A parapet (or in Italian parapetto) is a barrier on the edge of a roof, terrace, balcony, walkway or in my grandmother’s invocation, one’s thoughts and actions.
The rise in trolling, bullying, lying and seething on social media, talk shows, online and print publications, and even in everyday conversations signals a need to both build a parapet around those spreading hate, lies, and racism, and also build a parapet around oneself to protect from the mendacity. Unless you live a very sheltered life, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the fury.
The emotional toll and long-term consequence of this cauldron, being stirred by many factions, is far worse than a rickety ladder, mishandling a piece of machinery or accepting a dare.
Thanks to Herman Sanchez for the great picture from Unsplash