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  • Shishir Rattan

Our neighbors and Us

Updated: Jul 5



The sky, the horizon and then the earth,

Together bound by an endless girth;

The firmament binds with the ground,

At a place where the endless is bound!


The eternal and boundless envelop that seems to fold around the earth like an opaque sheet has been the subject of several ideas and mysteries throughout the ages. So much so that, I'd wager, the stars in the sky might narrowly outnumber the many theories mankind has expounded in its blimp of a lifetime on the earth. Such is the intriguing pull of the sky that humans even built ships to penetrate its binds and have left a mark on Earth's celestial companion – the Moon. A feat that is in no way small by any conservative measure!

Shifting the focus closer to ground, the earth has been placed on a similar pedestal by humans since time immemorial. Over the ages we have had theories with regards to its shape and size and dreamt up strange places that house the exotic creations of a curious mind.


One thing does seem to remain common though. The emotional and primal pull towards a meager piece of land on the earth's gigantic surface – the place we call home.

What is home? A building, an apartment, a cave? Is it just the dwelling where we spent our time growing up? Is it the city or village where spent developing into an adult?

Invariably that place will belong to a greater construct called a country. A rather large blob of land demarcated only in the figments of our imagination and manifested on temporary mediums such as maps and other such devices of our making. The myriad boundary lines are invisible from the heaven above and set in the hearts and minds of people on both sides of the flimsy fences we put up for reasons that only serve to satisfy our egos bigger than the entire universe!


These borders delineate our notions of 'Us and Them' as clearly as the fact that the sun rises and then sets.

True, it does create such a feeling but the question we must ask is – Why?

If such walls served any definitive purpose, then human want, need and its accompanying greed has ensured that even such borders fall under their weight by the very people who toiled to build them.

Trade and its companion, migration, have shown us just how feeble such efforts really are. Humans have migrated over the earth from one place to the other for several reasons so much so that today's average human carries genes not a single line of ancestry but from a mad mesh of human evolution and breeding. We are mixed up at the very code that makes us – Us.


Even then, we still hold onto the relics of our survival instincts in various ways but the most predominant one is the notion of belonging to a particular piece of the planet that we may identify with as our country.

Almost every single country has certain factors that distinguish it from not just its neighbors but any other country in the world. There are, however, factors that one must consider that also make countries similar to each other. Ponder over the history of some countries and you will see, clear as day, that if it was not for a particular event of migration; that country would have been very different than what it is today.


The bottom line here is that while we revel in the factors that differentiate one country from another; it is still a mass of individuals who identify themselves as one under a common banner. A multitude that has Pledged allegiance to similar beliefs and value systems that might not be in congruence with any other country and yet, it is still just another mass of people – Humans who have chosen to bind themselves behind self-imposed borders and demarcations on the surface of the earth. Lines so enormous that no one can see its full length and yet too insignificant that it is invisible in the grand scheme of things on a planetary scale.

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