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invisible borders

Borders are physical barriers that establish separations between one place and another. For instance, territorial separations delimit access to goods, people and resources. Above all, borders set limits that, if transgressed, justify the use of violence between, for example, one country and another. In this sense, borders allow, facilitate and justify peace, and if one respects the borders, one receives peace. Then, it is easy to think of borders as geographical boundaries, material and physical ones that define nations. Our passports are made for that, and we use them every time we enter or leave a country. 

But borders are also made of invisible separations between us. Aren’t some people on one side or the other, for example, when looking for a job or accessing health or education?

Only some people are on the side with multiple opportunities, while others belong to the majority who fight over a few. Some people never overcome inequality, just as others never manage to leave their country and be allowed to enter another. Is it fair to spend your life on one side of the divide without ever having a different chance? Is it fair to live without experiencing a decent health service, a good salary or quality education? Is it okay to live without having access to the same privileges that others have? 

These borders of injustice then keep us apart from each other. Some manage to cross over to the other side by changing their situation through education, personal effort, or luck. But this asceticism is not accessible to everyone. Just as there is no individual liberation, no matter how frequently the system praises the “successful case” or the “self-made man”. 

Many people do everything possible to cross boundaries and reach well-being and dignity. But this can be a titanic task. So we need to ask who imposes these borders on us. Who divides the rich from the poor, white bodies from brown ones? Who establishes labels and boxes that separate the worthy and the unworthy?

The answers are perhaps found in the minds of those who have created the crisis we find ourselves. That is to say, those who have slowly created the conditions that force people to leave their families, friends, cultures and traditions in search of a better future. Who creates environmental and political instability in the third-world countries where immigrants and refugees come from? Who creates low-paid and precarious jobs for the inhabitants of these areas? Who extracts natural resources at low cost destroying the ecosystems and regions where indigenous peoples live? 

None of us owns an airline, a bank, or a rocket to travel to Mars, let alone have an underground bunker to survive the end of the world. No, we are not the ones who have directly forced people to migrate to escape poverty. However, the borders are engraved on our skin. We have grown up with them and we are never more aware of it than when we cross over to the other side. We need to put ourselves in the shoes of others to be able to discover our true identity: invisible borders.

Photo Sebastian silva







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