A Travellerspoint blog

#1: Borders

Open and close...


bor•der [bawr-der]
noun: the line that separates one country, state, province, etc., from another; frontier line: You cannot cross the border without a visa.

Borders play several important roles. They exclude, but they also include. The separate and they welcome. During my time in Strasbourg and in Paris, I saw a number of borders. I walked across the France-Germany border. I photographed doors and windows covered in barbed wire at a concentration camp. I found doors of such variety in every place I went: golden gates in Versailles, squatty passageways leading off the Philosopher’s Walk in Heidelberg, bars to confine drunken college students at an old university, walls to block intruders to castles.

Borders are neutral entities, yet they can be used to include or exclude. The gates at Versailles were used to keep the general populace out of the way of the French royals. The stone castle walls were erected to defend those inside.

Borders are a tricky thing, because one wants to ensure safety without excluding everyone. It is far easier to tip to one side or the other than to maintain balance. We can create a border that is all wall, a border that is all door, or a border that is mostly wall but includes a door. The last of these is the most sensible, but then we must figure how large our door should be. Who should be allowed to pass through? Like a gold miner, should we be picky about who passes through our border?

This photograph was taken at the Arab museum, a marvelous institute which highlights the impact of the Arab world on ancient and contemporary culture. I found these windows to be fascinating. They move depending on the placement of the sun and the temperature of the building. Sensors beckon them to open and close. They serve an important purpose by blocking out and letting in sunlight.

I thought this was a good metaphor for the concept of borders. I appreciate these windows because they don’t let all sunlight in, but neither do they hinder it. They are flexible and dependent on the building’s needs. Countries struggle with border protection because they want to let people into their country for educational or economic benefit, but they don’t want to let in potential danger. I think we can formulate a strategy that is fair and does not exclude on the basis of heritage or religion. Like this window, we can have specific guidelines that allow us to open and close our borders.

Borders are important. They protect us. And yet, if we are too protective, we will miss the benefits of welcoming the stranger.

Posted by klewis91 05:42

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