The real impact of fictional lines

The idea for this article occurred to me about two weeks ago, when the volcano in Iceland began replacing planes with ash over the European skies. Like many people, I was following the news on several TV channels, when a reporter mentioned a detail that grabbed my attention. He said that the last time this volcano had erupted, it displaced so many residents of Iceland, who left the island and went on to live in other parts of Europe.

At that moment, my mind drifted away. I remembered a National Geographic documentary that I watched almost a year ago. It was called 'Strange days on planet Earth.' The film looks into a number of phenomena that was never studied before. Mainly, the impacts of industrialization, development of means of transport and communication and other factors on natural life.

For example, the documentary looks into the fact that the large number of trade ships that sail around the world are relocating the habitats of marine life between continents, thereby altering the harmony of natural life in many places. It also looks into the impact of global warming, the use of pesticides, and the extinction of predators in a number of areas across the globe. The numerous examples illustrate how the smallest changes people make to their environment, have a tremendous impact on the natural flow of life.

Which brings us back to the main point of this article: I decided to write after listening to another news report. It addresses the new amendments made to the immigration law, recently adopted in the American state of Arizona, where millions of people who travel from all over South America, through Mexico cross the borders to the United States in search of better opportunities.

The news highlighted yet another limitation imposed by borders on humanity – the economical aspect. Two centuries ago, if a region was hit by a natural disaster, people were able to flee the area, and move to an area of safety. If one area offered plenty of resources, then people from other less fortunate areas could move there and start benefiting from them. Freedom of movement allowed people to create a natural balance on this planet.

I find it laughable that we – the people – invented borders during the same era in which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was constituted; it guarantees the fundamental Right of Movement to every single individual. At the same time, when humanity is developing all these incredible ways to help people connect with each other, we devised something that is as odd and unnatural as borders. I find it even funnier that the more advanced we become, the more we invent ways to protect and strengthen those borders, rather than arriving at solutions to eliminate them forever.
How many people have died of hunger, while food is piled up in trash containers just across the borders? How many wars and conflicts have been fought over these fictional lines that exist only on papers? How many people have died because of these wars? How many resources were used to fuel these wars? How many global challenges have occurred as a result of borders? Hunger, corruption, refugees, human trafficking, illegal immigration, exploitation, statelessness, dual citizenship – all these issues occurred as a result of the existence of something unnatural called borders, and the complete impacts of these lines are yet to be studied.

© Kuwait Times 2010

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