Start the Week [27Feb2017] was a discussion linked by the theme of borders. In particular I was drawn to the contribution of map-maker Garrett Carr who has travelled “Ireland’s border to explore the smugglers, kings, peacemakers and terrorists who’ve criss-crossed this frontier.” His book, The Rule of the Land: Walking Ireland’s Border will be featured on Radio 4, beginning 13th March 2017.
My attention has also recently been drawn to this dynamic map showing the evolution of European borders – [in just 3 minutes and 23 seconds] – over the last 1000 years. [Thanks to Corinne for this.]
The link between ethnicity and territory is central to much of the discussion, dispute, schism and in some cases violence, that defines the politics of our modern World. This map is a fine reminder of the serendipitous character of borders, and the conflicts which have drawn and redrawn them throughout recent and less recent history.
I am personally uncomfortable with the idea that there should be a racial, ethnic or religious basis to any state; so whilst I have sympathy for the Kurds, the Catalans, the Basques, the Palestinians and their desire for self-governance, ultimately I believe that states built around the claim of a single group to the ownership of territory, should be resisted in favour of the construction of political organisations which are by their nature inclusive and which guarantee the rights of minorities. Oddly enough, Donald Trump’s slightly bizarre reference to a Palestinian and Israeli “one state solution” in his recent press conference alongside a slightly bemused Bibi Netanyahu, made me reflect on how hard it is to imagine a two state solution leading to a harmonious and neighbourly future in this particular case. A one state solution on the other hand, where the rights of all citizens are properly guaranteed by an external authority such as the United Nations, can seem a fanciful idea, and yet; would it not be a catalyst for more productive relationships between Palestinians and Israelis, given the necessity of their having to work together within the same institutions?
Hare Crosses the Border
Somewhere south of Slieve Gullion
In a long line of broken curves and fluid turns
Hare crosses the Border.
Perhaps hesitating for a moment,
But not as fox hesitates or badger hesitates,
Hare lopes forward instinctively
Into his inescapable future
All senses scoping the hazards of his universe,
Crossing and crossing again
The imperceptible line that separates human from human.
Entry for Wigtown poetry competition 2012 – unremarked by Judge, George Szirtes, in his summing up. [Winner:Eel Ghazal, by Jane Aldous]