borders

I’m back from Spain. We went there for a three-day holiday and got back last night. It was great to say the least (another post to come) and during it I found myself contemplating the idea of borders. I suppose it’s a simple idea really: ‘Here is a line. This is my land, that is yours. You don’t come onto my land and I won’t go onto yours,’ yet look at the problems it causes: famine, disease, war, huge political debates with who knows what future consequences on who knows how many lives – some of humanity’s most prominent and serious issues can be directly linked to that crazy, presumptuous, arrogant idea of drawing lines on the ground and living within them. A tree doesn’t worry what country it sets root in, a bird doesn’t care what borders it crosses. Fish don’t think about whose oceans they swim in: they don’t try to draw lines on the water. I have always respected the fact that humans are animals: physically, we function in basically he same way as many other members of the animal kingdom. Mentally, I understand, we are different. Blessed we are with amazing mental abilities: long memory, foresight, problem solving, logic: indeed, as a race we are so intelligent we separate ourselves, set some above others and put entire peoples down because of some mean understanding that ‘This is the world works, this is how it is. This is life.’ Of course, we have no other life, no other world to base it on, nothing on which to model our existence. With no signpost to point the way to personal and societal success we are (to our knowledge, at least) pioneers, exploring our universe in whatever way we can. And because of the human mind’s desire for logic and sense, we label things of which we have no understanding, put names to things which cannot be named, we grasp them in whatever way we can and try to own them: we draw borders. ‘This is what I know, and this is what I don’t know. It is a mystery. It is unknown. I don’t know what it will do to me or how it will affect me, so it may be a threat.’ And so, despite all our progress, we arrive back at one of the core pillars of our towering modern society: fear of the unknown. And we try to explain even this, pretending that we understand it and know its secrets. The human mind, being what it is, searches frantically for answers to the mystery it tries to persuade itself it understands. And it finds them in a thousand and one different places: religion and spirituality, science and technology, just to name the most controversial. But the foundations are wrong – no, not wrong. Misplaced? Misguided? Whichever you like, the meaning is the same. We search for answers to a question we don’t understand. No, not even a question – it doesn’t exist. How can we find an answer to a question that doesn’t exist? And there is my point: we draw our borders and create our laws on land which doesn’t exist. Our existence itself is not solid, not sure – we cannot see the future, we can’t even truly see the present. Like fish in the sea we ride the currents, consuming those weaker than us and being consumed by those stronger, but we have not the slightest idea how deep our ocean really is, or how wide its shores! Or the planet, the land beyond those shores – and from there, the sky – from there, space, the universe – and from there, well: I don’t know. And I consider myself beyond lucky to to have no fear of those words: I don’t know. If there is one thing I’ve learnt in eight months away it’s that I am utterly ignorant of how big: just how unbelievably, terrifically BIG my world really is. And still – still! – I try to understand it, try to come to terms with the fact that I will never come to terms with it. And I have no fear of admitting that that frightens me. The knowledge that no matter how hard I try I will not – can not – ever stop trying to understand. Is that what life is? Is that what humanity is? To try to understand as much as we can in whatever way we can in the time we have on this world? Is that what sets us apart from other animals? The way the human mind needs logic, clarity, sureness. The way we need explanations, limits; need borders? If that is so, how far has humanity really advanced? We still clamber over each other in a desperate struggle to survive in much the same way as we must have done in prehistoric times. We hunt and gather, stockpile, fight, hurt, kill, negotiate, compromise, form relationships, betray, etcetera – and all for borders, all for some sense of surety that we will live to see one more day. ‘Humanity’ is still just as prepared to sacrifice another for itself as it was 5000 years ago. We’ve crossed oceans, fought wars, spilled blood, poisoned every ground we’ve stood upon and destroyed more things than I have the heart to name, and we call this progress. We live longer and healthier lives, we are better educated, we are more scientifically and technologically advanced, and for what? So we can make more money, catch more diseases, take more resources and – advance further. Push forward to a bright new future, without knowing exactly when it will suddenly become bright. We’ve come so far, but how far have we really come? Or better yet, how much further can we go? If that is humanity, how long has it been since we truly changed? Perhaps to truly advance – advance for the good of everyone, every individual, rather than as a race – we need to stop explaining, or pretending to. Stop pushing to go further, faster, and stop and think. Stop swimming in the current society thinks you should be in, stop making rules with which to bind yourself, stop drawing borders.
Just be, and in being, become.

spanishseas