A number of years in the past over dinner in Helsinki, I declared to my Swedish touring companions, “I believe individuals needs to be allowed dwell in no matter nation they select to dwell. I imply if we can resolve to dwell wherever on the earth, why shouldn’t somebody escaping gang violence or local weather change in, say, South Sudan or Honduras, have the suitable to relocate to a extra steady nation?”
Effectively, my daring assertion didn’t go over too properly with the Swedish couple. They countered by citing the heavy financial burden that immigrants — authorized and in any other case — have positioned on their nation’s beneficiant welfare system, and the way a metropolis like Malmo has been “overrun” with Muslims refusing to adapt to Sweden’s tradition by importing their very own customs.
I perceive and respect their arguments and even their fears, however since that evening in Finland I’ve change into much more entrenched in my beliefs. Just like the singer Bruce Cockburn sings in his music, “If I had a Rocket Launcher,” “I don’t imagine in guarded borders. And I don’t imagine in hate.”
And whose borders are we discussing precisely? Years in the past I reported on the rising Latino center class in southern Idaho for the newspaper Excessive Nation Information. I started the piece with this quote: “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.”
In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American Warfare to the benefit of the victorious United States and established the Rio Grande River because the US-Mexican border whereas ceding all of Mexico’s claims to what was then the Republic of Texas. Mexico was additionally pressured to promote its possession of California and lots of different western states to the US for a mere $15 million, basically doubling the scale of america whereas chopping Mexico’s landmass in half.
And allow us to not neglect the pressured resettlement of Native People removed from their sacred lands to desolate reservations. Why respect these synthetic boundaries that have been the outcomes of one-sided treaties?
America has a protracted tainted and brutal historical past of violating borders. Witness lately the drone attacks in sovereign nations anywhere in the world, typically killing whole households whose solely “crime” was to be within the improper place on the improper time. There may be not a border on the earth that may repel our navy escapades.
This is applicable not solely to an more and more militant and armed presence in america concerning the therapy of 1000’s of migrants trying to enter the US at the southern border but in addition to many borders around the globe. Closely patrolled fences and minefields have changed compassion and magnanimity.
Within the latest guide Midnight’s Borders, A Individuals’s Historical past of Trendy India, writer Suchitra Vijayan spent seven years traversing India’s 9,000-mile contested and shifting perimeter that it shares with six international locations.
These borders that led to the 2 separate nations of Pakistan and India have been unexpectedly drawn up in simply seven weeks in 1947 by British lawyer Cyril Radcliffe. The legal professional had by no means set foot in India and, as Vijayan remembers, Radcliffe “had little or no data of the huge continent he was tasked to partition. The maps and census information he labored with have been outdated; there was no time to get the small print proper, and no time to examine.” He didn’t stick round to witness the massacre between Muslims and Hindus that his newly drawn map set into movement.
If he have been alive right this moment he would observe that these somewhat arbitrary traces he drew on paper are actually demarcations of distress for the numerous households in Pakistan and India who lengthy to go to one another with out restrictions. These needs would possibly by no means be granted. India is within the means of laying mines alongside the complete 1,800-mile border that separates Pakistan and India. Vijayan writes that, “Mines have been planted in farmlands, and civilians have been pressured to depart the realm.” The 1997 Mine Ban Treaty that was signed by 122 nations was by no means signed by India, Pakistan, Russia China, and america.
Motion of Humanity
But, fences, partitions, and even mines can not over time repel the timeless motion of humanity. Notice the demise of the Berlin Wall, the ineffectiveness of the fences alongside the US southern border, and the crumbling state of the Nice Wall of China that’s now merely a vacationer website.
As climate change forces people to risk life and limb to search for water and arable land, and as households proceed to flee political violence to seek out secure haven, these politically-constructed borders should stop to matter.
Whereas visiting migrants at a refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece, this previous week, Pope Francis mentioned, “I’m right here to see your faces and look into your eyes. Eyes filled with concern and expectancy, eyes which have seen violence and poverty, eyes streaked by too many tears. The distant causes needs to be attacked, not the poor individuals who pay the results and are even used for political propaganda. Please, allow us to cease this shipwreck of civilization.”
This will solely occur if we push again towards a growing and dangerous worldwide nationalistic urge, tear down our personal prejudices, our personal self-imposed borders, if you’ll, and start to view others not as unwashed invading lots, however as fellow residents of this beleaguered planet who search the identical comforts we take pleasure in: meals, shelter, security and, above all, hope for a greater future.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed listed below are these of the writer and don’t essentially mirror the editorial place of The Globe Submit.