About Borders

When you cross the border from one country or another, what tells you what side you’re on?

There’s no line on the ground. No different feeling between the two. So what tells you when you’ve gotten to the other side?

Borders are interesting. The only thing that tells you if you’ve crossed the line is people. From signs telling you which town you’re in, to actual people guarding it, different outposts are there to convince you that what you’re crossing is real, and that the two things they’re separating have important differences.

But the reality is, there’s nothing there. Just people, telling you which side you’re allowed to be on, and which you’re not.

What if you didn’t listen?

You know, it’s the same with any milestone. The only thing preventing you from crossing to the other side is people, telling you that you need degree X or experience Y to get to the other side. But you don’t.

Like the passport office– they ask you to stand in line, wait your turn, and you’ll get your papers… eventually. Just go through all these hoops.

All this for a line that’s invisible and arbitrary.

What would happen if you just stepped over the border between those that can, and those that can’t? Is there really something wrong with that?

Or is it just people telling you that you need to wait in line?





14 responses to “About Borders”

  1. Tracy Lee Carroll Avatar

    Interesting topic. Having been one who has done much without the proper papers, I would have to say that there is nothing wrong with just passing through. I think it is this type of perseverance that separates those that can and do from those who just stand in line and do as they are told. They will be forever standing in line as life passes them by.

  2. Jeremy Meyers Avatar

    I think more often than not its ourselves telling us not to cross the borders, more than others. We define ourselves as much by what we think we’re not as what we think we are. The truth is we’re all everything, the borders are mostly self-imposed and designed for inertia to win.

    That said, if someone points a gun at you and tells you to get to the other side of an arbitrary line, you should probably do it.

  3. Tim Harrap Avatar

    At secondary school I had a great maths teacher. I know he was great because he sowed some philosophical seeds that have stayed with me for 40 years now. On this topic he raised the image of a wall around the equator – who he asked is inside and who is outside?

  4. Mitch Joel - Twist Image Avatar

    Funny enough, I thought this was going to be a Blog post about your book and Borders book chains. Sort of speaks to the power of branding, don’t it?

  5. Tamsen McMahon Avatar

    Perception is reality; we define truth based on our experience with it.

    Borders, then, are only as strong as the perception that supports them. Strength comes from numbers, of course: the borders between countries are strong because millions on either side agree to their arbitrary presence. But bigotry lives there, in the mind of the crowd. And prejudice, and hatred.

    The crowd is fed by individual beliefs (I have to agree with the crowd to abide by its rules)–but as such it is also susceptible to them (it’s a matter of simple choice to disagree). All one person needs to change the collective truth is to realize their own part in it–and decide to see things differently.

    So the stronger force, as you suggest, is that of the soul, the individual belief so powerful it overcomes the perception of the crowd.

  6. Christopher S. Penn Avatar

    Be choosy about your border crossings. Yes, they’re all defined by people, but some people will shoot you for crossing, arbitrary or not.

  7. CT Moore Avatar

    Saw this doc on Canadian English on the CBC once, and something that was really interesting is how two towns only a few miles apart but on different sides of the border had completely different accents and dialects of English. So somehow that arbitrary line has a lot of influence, I guess…

  8. larry Avatar

    Being a geocentric thinker in a gregarious world means your event horizon is never stationary. Borders are often imaginary, except for those guarding them. sort of like the two fleas on the dog, who argue over who owns it. The desire to own land is directly proportional to that premise.

  9. Rufus Shepherd Avatar

    The little town of Fort Kent, ME (on the American side of the border) is one such place. Most people there have family on both sides that just got divided up by the British and French way back when. Both sides speak French mostly (or that “language” Canadians speak)

    You can tell where you are by the different shade of blue the bridge over the St. John is painted. The border is where the two shades are slightly off from each other. 🙂

  10. Alex Avatar

    I’m from Russia and borders are not imaginary
    for people from Russia . It is a big differences if you cross the border to any country

  11. Ricky Ferdon Avatar

    Borders are simply manifestations of man’s intense desire to control and define.

  12. wilson Avatar

    I believe the Internet is a great tool that’s helping us make those borders easier to cross. Meeting people with similar ideas, Free information, and more. All these variables have helped me cross a few borders I was afraid to cross before.

  13. Mark Robertson Avatar

    The threshold phase. I love the passport analogy–remember when I was passing through customs in Houston on my way to begin a new phase of life in Colombia.

    I was physically “in Huston,” but entereing the plane I was metaphysically on an internatinal threshold.

    I’d love to read an ebook from Julien: “reCycling the life heroic” (or something). I learned about J Campbell 8 yrs ago (in college). I loved the ideas then, but now they have this incredible resonance i can barely explain (though I try).


  14. Brian Gerald Murphy Avatar
    Brian Gerald Murphy

    I hear ya. And also, sometimes those borders have tall walls, barbed wires, and electric fences. Sometimes the people on the border don’t just tell that you’ve crossed (or that you can’t), sometimes they shoot you if you try.

    That’s not say that you still can’t cross, and that’s where your analogy continues to hold. But it is important to remember that sometimes crossing the border has very real consequences. And if you want it badly enough, you should still cross.

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