Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Don't fear defending your boundaries.

How do you react to the idea of sweeping only your side of the street? If I have discarded paper cups, cigarette butts and tossed candy wrappers littering what’s within my boundaries, my side of the street, I’ll sweep it up. Or not. But it’s not the responsibility of someone else to barge into my territory and try to clean up my garbage. Besides, that would be an impossible venture. No one can change another person. If everybody doesn’t know that, everybody should.

Bridge spanning the borders of U.S.A. and Canada.

People with rapid speech retort defend their boundaries well. If someone flings a subtle insult, they fire back with a witty remark that disarms the verbal assailant. It’s like the ramparts which defend their boundaries have sharp, accurate and verbally loaded crossbows.

Boundaries erect borders between states and people. They exist to define lines of difference. They exist to separate. Boundaries cannot fully separate sometimes because circumstances disallow. Despite all efforts to contain illegal immigration, widespread impoverishment in Mexico guarantees movement across the United States border. In the waning decades of the Roman Empire, barbarian tribes peacefully settled within Roman boundaries because the legions lacked vitality to stop it.

Boundaries allocate areas of responsibility for individuals and nations. It’s not anyone’s prerogative to enter another’s personal border unless invited. But what if you’re driving a hundred miles an hour? I don’t care whether it’s your job to drive or not, I’ll tell you slow down. It’s not my job to paint your house or mow your lawn, but maybe it’s your job to help maintain community property values. Maybe it’s not. I think clear and distinct boundaries however fortify the chances for accord between people and nations. When an entity violates a definite boundary alarms signal. A response ensues. When an alarmed client questions an expert on how to do his job, more than likely he’s excessively worried.

Historical events often germinate into confusion and disagreement between nations over boundaries. Ecuador and Peru, with roots of conflict dating to early 16th century Inca history, fought two 20th century wars over boundary disputes. Undefined areas of demarcation and desire for valuable natural resources contributed to the outbreak of hostilities.


Some people violate personal boundaries as a matter of course. Maybe someone repeatedly steps on your toes. Maybe he deliberately bumps into you time and again. And maybe he’s bigger and stronger. A kid in grammar school was treating me like this. I eventually challenged him to fight. We fought in a green field with spectators watching. I hurt him as best I could, but he slugged until the fight in me was exhausted. I had defended my boundary with complete abandon, gained my opponent’s respect, and the maltreatment ceased.

Nazi Germany plunged Europe into war by sending its armies across the boundaries of numerous nations, beginning with Poland in 1939. Germany had an alliance with Japan. When Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor, the United States declared war on Germany. I know it is obvious, but no less worth repeating. Respecting national and personal boundaries fosters peace between people and nations.

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