I begin this essay with words of wisdom and sanity taken from ancient Hindu scriptures and a Tamil poem written 2500 years ago.
1. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: meaning the world is one family (Maha Upanishad.)
2. Yathum Oore Yavarum Kelir: meaning every place is my home town; everyone is my kith and kin (poet Kanian Poongundranar.)
Centuries ago, people migrated from one place to another.
Reasons like natural calamities, local violence, community upheavals, or seeking better pastures explain their migration.
But there were no borders. It was freedom of unrestricted movement.
In the present age, peoples also migrate for the same reasons: escape from disturbing political upheavals, crime, and violence based on cultural or religious ethnicity, conflicts, prosecutions or simply for better opportunities.
But in the contemporary world, they have to go through borders.
Borders are an expensive, extensive and sophisticated operation. Electric and razor-sharp wires, tall walls, ‘smart’ walls mounted with cameras, drones, sensors and radars, and 24/7 armed personnel secure the entry and exit points.
Worldwide, billions of dollars go into patrolling the borders so that no human can move from this side to the other without proper documentation.
The USA perhaps leads other countries to spend billions of dollars securing its boundary lines, not from any enemy from the north or the south, but the unarmed undocumented desperate humans seeking shelter and peace from the turmoils and troubles in their homelands.
According to a report, the US government has spent over $333 billion on border and immigration enforcement since 2003. It employs over 50,000 people in various border enforcement and immigration control roles. (source: American Immigration Council)
Most global border lines in the last two centuries materialized through wars or by colonial powers, as in South Asian countries and the continent of America. The USA and Mexico were once one mass of borderless land.
The borderless journeys in the ancient era, or even with vague national boundaries, were a relief for people who wanted to take asylum or settle in other lands for whatever reason.
Now seeking refuge in safe places, people face multiple hardships, rules and regulations. They also endure inhumanity and barbarity from the authorities.
Human migration is an escalating global phenomenon. Millions of people move annually for a better life or job opportunities, as refugees and asylum seekers, to reunite with family members or for multiple other reasons.
A large section of the world’s migrating population is so-called illegal migrants seeking shelter to escape the violence in their own countries.
At the end of 2021, the total number of people worldwide fleeing their homes due to conflicts, violence, terrorism, fear of persecution and human rights violations was 89.3 million, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.”
Borders are prisons, confining people and forcing them to live in conflict, camps, and poverty; they sail in dingy boats on rising seas or walk in vicious wintery snow storms to reach unwelcome shores and lands.
Besides refugee claimants, people worldwide want to move anywhere in this global village for economic and political reasons or to seek better lives.
In the world knitted together with the internet where people feel so close to each other, we still lodge ourselves in countries or nations states that have been dividing us as one human race for centuries.
Can we erase the borders and seek the demise of countries so people can walk across the globe freely without carrying the documentation of passports or visas; and without risking their lives climbing the walls, digging the tunnels, sailing the rough seas for the safe heavens?
Borders and walls between countries must be relegated as obsolete and demolished as we all belong to one human race sharing the planet earth.
We, humans, 7.97 billion (2022) and increasing, inhabit here and there all over the planet. And when we look down from space, as astronaut Rusty Schweikart did in Appolo 1969, we are “part of everyone and everything.”
That suggests we belong to the earth rather than a country.
Global borders help preserve cultures and traditions. But we also create multicultural societies. Some cultures and traditions become history, while others contribute to the mosaic.
In the digital world, the abolition proposal already exists and getting traction.
“How to start a new country” displays the book title by Balaji Srinivasan, former chief technology officer of the Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange.
“It is the latest in a flurry of utopian visions by self-styled digital visionaries, crypto believers and web 3.0 evangelists lining up to declare the death of the traditional concept of countries and nationhood,” according to a recent article in The Conversation.
One digital nomad who sees herself as untethered and borderless, the nation’s state is outdated, “it is based on 19th-century thinking,” and likens national citizenship and tax to a “subscription” that is very hard to cancel.
From borderless digital nations to borderless physical concepts, things can happen fast with the revolutionary speed of the internet resulting in the ultimate death of countries.
No countries, no borders; the project may sound chaotic and utopian.
But the world will be war-free. It will be a boon for the refugees and millions in the world classified as stateless; a march towards a peaceful global village under one flag to be carried and raised on the moon and beyond.
-by Promod Puri