>> March 30, 2020
>> Blog Post #49
I saw a tweet a few days ago that made me react.
Obviously, I understand the natural tendency for humans to arm themselves if they fear that physical harm can come to them and, in times of crisis, a very strong uptick in demand is definitely to be expected. Then depending on where you live and what your country’s laws on firearms are this can be more or less difficult or acceptable. The gun portion of the tweet therefore came as no surprise to me, especially coming from a known gun proponent.
The frontier component of the tweet is more interesting. What is a frontier? Ragnar’s response to that question was “What is water?”. Borders are interesting as depending what you are talking about, they can be extremely different in nature.
You have the natural physical border. Water is a very good example of this, but so have been mountains or deserts of you look at how countries have evolved geographically throughout history. Rivers, lakes, oceans have very often served as a natural delimitation of a town, a province or a country and still do today.
But you have another type of border, the one enforced by a country, its government, the troops it can deploy to protect them. Sometimes these borders are not the manifestation of a material delimitation but the virtual design of some kind of will. You can cross a border without having to hop over it as there is no line between country A and country B in many cases.
So how do you use a border to protect yourself from a virus? It’s not like COVID-19 is going to stop at the border frontier post – if you still have one. And yet most countries seem to be shutting down their borders. It seems to be the only thing they are trying to manage is that who eventually gets in is a citizen, one for whom they are “responsible”, meaning they would have to provide a bed for if hospitalized. I’d argue that for a majority of governments around the world, their worst fear would be to be seen as not knowing how to handle their own citizens with their citizen’s hard-earned money (their taxes). They are far more concerned about that, which would make them obsolete, than the actual number of casualties I am afraid.
If this is true, what is the benefit of a border? Is it not only to protect a state in its governmental function? I can see a culture or tradition being maintained without a border, but not a state. Why would we want a border then?
And lastly, and maybe a little more philosophically if I may say, borders can also be seen as a temporary limit for mankind. The rivers that men and women could not swim across restricted them until they were able to walk around or swim across. The seas and oceans killed many before the first settlers were able to cross them. The edge of the earth even disappeared when Magellan sailed around the world, and Man even left the confines of his home on earth when he started exploring space. What is a border if not something you naturally want to conquer and go past?
The image I chose for this post is the photo of a meeting room in Panmunjom in the heart of the DMZ. DMZ stands for demilitarized zone and as its name might suggest, …, it is the exact opposite! probably one of the most heavily militarized zones in the world, which separates North Korea from South Korea. The blue building (“UN protected”) that houses this room actually sits across the boarder, with one half being in the north and the other half being in the south. If you have ever been there, please let me know in the comments below. I have personally been there and technically have set a foot in North Korea (you can do it while you visit the UN base) and it was a very strange experience that to this day still makes me wonder how I should think about it.