True borders are invisible. They are not those that separate one country from another, those that stamp passports at immigration controls. True borders are those that separate a person from justice, a mother from the dreams of education for her children, a father from an adequate salary to feed her family. Borders are those that separate a sick person from the necessary treatment to heal his illness. And it is not only immigrants or refugees -those who walk the roads, God protect them-, who are fully aware of those borders, but also young native Europeans: the borders that separate them from their aspirations to have a house, to have stable jobs through which to project into the future, to live in a pollution-free environment, to give education and health to their children. To give meaning to their lives beyond being consumers of stuff to hoard.
Borders stretch across European society, dividing, mutilating, killing with invisible efficiency. With the extension of these borders, nonsense grows, and life becomes survival. Life is impoverished to a level we have never seen before. Loneliness, suicide, anxiety, depression, and nihilism are exhibited as the natural costs of material progress. Every day, new placebos are created to fight against the nihilism that is already assumed as normal. Borders have been established, accepted and well respected.
How come we don’t see these borders? And this is the drama and the paradox: we see them, and we do not see them.
We go from one side of a border to the other very easily, we flow through them, and sometimes we do not know which side we are on; however, we can choose to see them and not see them. We don’t see them when we’re on the surface, and things are going well for us. Vanity, waste and unconsciousness betray us as the weak and erratic beings we are. We are on the bright side, and we believe we deserve it; nothing else matters. The bright horizon opens up to all its promises and exciting possibilities. So the borders are invisible because we don’t want to see them. How difficult it is to think of hunger when one is satisfied!
We see borders when we are underground, prevented from enjoying the benefits of the system. Then it becomes clear to us that we are in a deteriorated situation and separated from what could have given us security, stability or a bit of predictability in our lives. We are aware that we are fragile and painfully aware of borders. Now we do not laugh when the sun rises, and we look with distrust at those who try to preach to us. How hard it is to think of satisfaction when you are hungry!
The borders are what hide from us the fact that everything we consume has been produced through the precarious work of someone else; thousands and thousands of people who remain on the other side of the border, in the poorly lit shanty towns of the world, working tirelessly to produce at low cost in the shortest time possible. We must hold that memory during the day. Maintaining the painful awareness of the fragility in which we live, that is our connection with who we really are, beyond the top-bottom, inside-outside, border-no border duality.
Perhaps the only thing that can destroy borders is the painful awareness that we are attached to someone down there. Someone who right now is producing the coffee we are drinking and the bread we eat. Simultaneously, perhaps, someone up there is thinking of us, who are producing that bread and that coffee and, who knows, maybe they are thinking of us and would like to change…
(c) Photography by Sebastián Silva. https://la-periferia-interior.tumblr.com/