Advent Thought For The Day: 6

December 6th: Borders

What horrible, divisive things borders are. Wars have been fought over them, walls and fences have been built to defend them and people die trying to cross them …… yet we live in a period when we are in danger of creating more.

Being a well-seasoned traveller, I frequently have to cross borders. I can say with candour that this is never an experience I look forward to, and one I usually dread. My current, least favourite is crossing between Hong Kong and China. They are technically the same country, but one would not think so. One has to leave Hong Kong and then enter China, which is a lengthy, boring, mildly intimidating ordeal that leaves one feeling processed and monitored rather than welcomed to one’s next destination. I guess this is the intention of borders, but it’s unfortunate that everyone is treated as if they are certified interlopers. At least most checkpoints have done away with the lane for ‘aliens’, which I find particularly unsettling, especially when I find I am one.

I am currently working in The Netherlands. I flew to Düsseldorf in Germany, the nearest major airport, and drove to Aalten, which is just across the border in The Netherlands. My hotel, the beautiful Wasserburg at Anholt, is a short distance away in Germany. One travels uninterrupted between the two countries through a small, unassuming town named Dinxperlo. One street in Dinxperlo runs along the border. The road itself lies in The Netherlands, but the houses on one side of the street, the Hellweg, are situated in Germany, whilst those on the other side, the Heelweg, are part of The Netherlands. The town is home to a shared Dutch – German police station and at both sides of the border a common dialect is spoken. Peace and harmony prevail. Outside Dinxperlo, remnants of the old checkpoint can be seen. Since the Schengen agreement came into being in 1990, people have moved freely to-and-fro.

Hard borders are a last resort; expensive, threatening and both indefensible and undefendable. We should not be creating more, whatever our woes. A world with borders is less free, less equal and ultimately less humane. TFG.

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14 thoughts on “Advent Thought For The Day: 6

  1. Very interesting post Dan, full of information as usual and thought provoking. And so true too. Don’t suppose you fancy running for Parliament do you? Possibly on a Green ticket?😂

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  2. If only we lived in a perfect world and all people were like yourself (or indeed just like me) and we were able to wander around the world unfettered by borders and paperwork. Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world. Firstly there are some quite nasty people around who use open borders for criminal activity such as smuggling people (how would you like it if your child was kidnapped and taken abroad with no border checks?) smuggling drugs, and as a gardener you should be concerned about bringing in (infected) plant material that could affect the the native landscape. I dont like the inconvenience of being “processed” anymore than the rest of us but its the price we pay for stability.

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    1. Of course I agree John. The intention of my thoughts for the day is to put an idea out there rather than provide all the angles or answers, which would not be possible in the 30 minutes I’ve allowed myself. Very happy to accept there are many other ways of looking at the subject. I still believe that where there’s a will there’s a way, and that those intent on breaching borders will do so anyway given have a chance / enough cash! Dan

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  3. Borders are inhumane. It forces people to be divisive even if they don’t want to be. I don’t see any reason for a border. Even borders people put in their minds. They often stop creativity, love and that is what the world needs more of.
    I am so enjoying your Advent posts. Peace and Love…

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  4. I understand your frustration at time wasted at border crossings and the way some border officials treat you (the US are particularly unfriendly), but I loved travelling in Europe in the early ’70s and collecting a stamp from each country, which I missed in later years. No more pretty stamps unless one travelled long haul. And as John pointed out there are SOME positive uses for having a border. But I do understand where you are coming from.

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  5. Thank you for touching a sensitive and most discriminating subject of “borders” Dan.

    As I am a Turkish citizen and need Schengen visa to travel to EU countries; its list of requirements getting more and more discriminating each year so much that your comment “less humane” sounds innocent; it is an insult to human dignity if not against human’s rights.

    Since my last Schengen visa expired in 2015 I did not apply to renew it; at the age of 63 I can no longer take more of this humiliation, however much I miss visiting friends and family living in Greece, Italy, France, Germany and UK whose visa requirements are only in par with Schengen.

    Sincerely,

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    1. I am sorry to hear that Ceylan. I know that it can be very tricky to get into the EU from outside. If it’s any consolation, for me to go to India or China is not that straightforward either. It’s expensive and time consuming to get a visa, but ultimately if you’re OK, it generally works out fine and a visa is granted. I hope you do get the opportunity to visit your friends again soon. I find that whatever the hassle it is always worth the effort. Dan

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  6. What a fitting blog Dan given the divisive discourse everywhere . How much more worse can it get? Reflecting on the Christmas story ..I wonder how the three wise men would have made it to pay homage if the Jesus was born today ..eh?!
    p:S: bought more baubles..this time the lovely huge outdoor ones from my local Waitrose..just need to persuade hubby to climb our tree!

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  7. I thought this post was going to be about borders in the garden and as my clay soil ones look particularly depressing at the moment, I was delighted! How clever of you tho to put a twist on the word. Not to make light of your theme, of course as I totally agree with your view. I also very much appreciate your efforts with these advent postings. I imagine you have already made a list of topics so that you can keep it going – but if not, let us know! I am sure we will throw you a few ideas for themes if you get stuck.

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  8. Thought-provoking and considered as always. The current discourse relates to existing borders which are man made and which change to suit requirements. I choose to have few “walls” around my garden. This summer and autumn, very hungry and thirsty wildlife ventured in and committed wilful damage, in some cases deliberately, to ensure their survival. If I had erected barriers to protect my picturesque garden for only myself and the family. I wouldn’t have realised the hardship others were facing and they would have easy to ignore. Although I’m talking badgers, deer and other visitors, the comparison with humans is easy to make.

    Wonder how the three kings would have fared trying to get to Bethlehem now?

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