Thursday, January 11, 2007

Notes in the sand

I admit, this may be a bit rambling, but nevertheless, I will ramble on. I’ve been thinking of borders, and what borders imply, demarcated territory. Borders are an interesting subject, for most creatures know borders very well, I may sit in the patio and feed a cute and pretty Blue Jay, yet not know that this patio has been claimed by that Blue Jay, and if another Blue Jay attempted to win treats from me, they more than likely would be attacked by the Jay that “owns” this patio. In zoology this is call territorial boundaries. Animals have various methods of protecting “their” territory, the Blue Jay may mark it by song (or squawk), some animals use scent (watch your dog raise its hind leg and spray and leave his scent, or your cat spraying the living room sofa!). So in this sense I think borders are older than humankind, for all or most creatures seek to mark their personal territory. And I think humans instinctively seek to do the same, as individuals, as groups, as nations. The current globe is a maze of human created territorial boundaries, and I would guess that those political boundaries had their beginnings in the boundaries marked by tribes in early cultures. I would also think that it is the big and powerful that first demarcate most of the boundaries in the world. For in the animal kingdom it is the big and powerful that defends its territory, that is until the elk becomes too old or weak to fight off the young and brash elk. I’m not saying borders are good or right or just, just that they seem to be part and parcel of life. I guess for some of us the question becomes, is a particular border just and fair? Was that property obtained fair and just. But when it comes down to it, it seems to me that most borders are drawn by the strong and wealthy, and that would include the strong and wealthy animal, person, tribe, or nation. And for good reason, at least from the point of view of the strong and wealthy, borders help to keep their wealth and necessary livelihood away from those on the other side of the drawn line. So the whole concept of property rights and our legal system springs from the need of those that claim territory to bring order and safeguard their claims. I would imagine that studies in evolution would find a great advantage for survival for those creatures that know how to establish borders, and importantly, those that know how to protect their established borders. Well, one final ramble. Isn’t it interesting how individual cultures deal with individual personal space, I think this is a microcosm of the larger picture of groups dealing with territory. For the most part, Northern Europeans have a larger personal space than Southern Europeans. I think if you observed a Greek in conversation with a Dane, you would see the Greek attempting to move closer to arrive at the ideal (for him) space between the two, but each step closer to the Dane, and the Dane would take a step back, for his personal space is larger and he feels uncomfortable when someone (the Greek) crosses the “border” into his personal space.

Did Jesus stake claim to property or territory? In one instance Jesus advises a rich man, “Go and sell everything you own and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” Oh my! Everything? It would seem to me that if one then had no material possessions, then all boundaries and territories would sort of evaporate away. One would find oneself in a completely new and different world. And what would that be like? Scary? Liberating? I fear most of us fear to even think of what it would be like. But, did Jesus own anything? The way he constantly moved about seems to indicate that borders and boundaries and territories were something that no longer held or confined him. He once drew with his finger in the dirt, was he drawing a line, a demarcation? He did it when a woman was accused of adultery, the scripture only says that he drew “something” in the dirt and asked the crowd, “You who are without sin, you throw the first stone.” Of course no one cast the first, or any stones. So, was Jesus drawing a boundary line in the dirt? Was it a boundary line not demarcating territory, but a boundary line that one must cross when they choose to cross over and follow Him? Cross over from the world of territories and borders and confinement and into a world of ...

Scary? Liberating?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lovely to find someone not talking about i-phones.