Not much remains of Fort Pitt, which was built by the British in 1761 at the point where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers merge to form the Ohio River in what is now downtown Pittsburgh. One of the block houses is intact, though.
It’s a small brick building with two floors and small slits in the walls that allowed soldiers to fire muskets at attackers. The slits are only a few inches tall and perhaps a foot wide. They were made small to protect the soldiers from incoming fire.
The photo at the top is one of those slits, known as a gun loop or simply a loophole — yes, that‘s the origin of the term. They’re a common feature in forts and castles and other places built to withstand attacks, allowing archers or gunmen to fire their arrows and bullets through narrow openings that provided cover.
What’s striking about the loopholes is that they’re very much a trade-off. The soldiers were protected by the smallness of the opening. The smallness of the opening prevented the soldiers from seeing much of anything.
In order to protect themselves, they limited themselves to a very tiny view of the world.
There’s good material for a blog, no?
In a sense, do we all live in loopholes?
We try to protect ourselves from rejection, disappointment, heartbreak, pain, failure — you name it — by limiting our interaction with the world. We’re afraid to put ourselves out there, so we do so only through a very narrow opening.
No one gets to see inside of us all that much. Nor do we see much outside of ourselves. Our lives are lived in very small spaces.
If we’re not careful, our worldview can harden into the equivalent of a block house. We can imprison ourselves in our rigid beliefs, seeing only the smallest part of what’s actually going on around us. We can end up living inside small, secure darkness.
And if anyone points out — accurately — that we’ve got a narrow outlook, we go on the attack and fire away through our loopholes. Doesn’t this happen in religion, politics, and so many other areas of our lives?
We all have our own block houses and our own loopholes.
Of course, we’re free to step outside of our block houses at any time. We can expand our small spaces and live in the greater world. It’s a choice.
We can step outside and see more of the fullness of life. Or we can stay inside and lead lives that are as narrow as the slits in the walls.
So you’ve seen the view from one of the loopholes at the block house. There’s not much to see, certainly not anything very interesting or inspiring.
Here’s what you can see if you step outside that block house:
Pretty spectacular, isn‘t it?
Which view do we choose?