We are all separated by borders

Borders divide us by social class, age, ability, gender, religion, language, occupation, and so forth.


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o paraphrase Rousseau, man is born free, yet everywhere he is caged. Barbed wire, concrete walls, and guarded toll booths — even with friendly guards — confine people to the nation-state of their birth. But, why? All people should be free to move about the earth, uncaged by arbitrary lines known as borders.
I believe a great deal can be learned by investigating the edge cases of the world. Border towns – cities built on or divided by borders — are places where political and cultural geography is stretched to its limits. Borders are places where life is interesting, made possible because there is difference, individualism and also tension.

But, a border is a man-made construction. The idea that an arbitrary line separates one country from another is truly a concept only man could create. We are all separated by borders — not just political borders, but also social and cultural borders, which divide us by social class, age, ability, gender, religion, language, occupation, and so forth.

El Paso, Texas, where I grew up, shares a border with Mexico. Many residents, including my parents and siblings, move back and forth between the two countries; they live and thrive on the frontiers of two cultures. We buy groceries, enjoy eating out at a restaurant and visit friends in neighboring Ciudad Juárez, México.
Rhode Island, where I currently live, is similar in that one can easily drive to and fro through cities and towns in just minutes, and in and out of two states in less than one hour: my husband and children often shop in Massachusetts and we attend cultural events in Connecticut.

My journey exploring borders began in the Spring of 2015 and it’s heightened my awareness of what lines and borders truly mean. What I’ve learned is that borders have life — they are human and complex, and people put them up and take them down with great ease.

Human spend so much time looking down — at the ground or their electronic devices. But if we look up, we would see a sky without limits and a moon that shines down on all of us with the same light. There are no borders in the sky: We are all bajo el mismo cielo.