Coming into English 181 this year, the idea of borders and the impact they have on the lives of individuals never really crossed my mind. I grew up in an affluent community in southwest Connecticut. My high school was predominantly Caucasian, 95% to be exact. Everyone here wears the same Vineyard Vines preppy button downs to match their brand new Sperry topsiders. My parents always referred to my town, Westport, as a “bubble” because everyone was systematically coded the same way. Everyone was constantly competing with one another for the best grades, the newest apparel, and the most updated iPhone. It never resonated with me until our discussions about borders began, that this “bubble” my parents were referring to was in fact an example of a border that was present in my life. I however, had been so programmed to live life in this idyllic community that I never thought anything of it. This “bubble” presents a border that encapsulates my society and alienates it from the rest of the world. It blockaded me from seeing the very diverse, less affluent community of Norwalk which borders Westport. Likewise, it prevented me from seeing the community of Bridgeport. Only located only 10 minutes away from my house, Bridgeport is home to the largest wealth discrepancy gap in the entire state. This “bubble” I live in prevented me from observing the lives of those so different from mine, however so close in proximity to me.
We have talked about a variety of different types of borders throughout the school year, however, the two main types that stand out to me are both physical and mental borders. We have seen physical borders separate communities, creating two diverse cultures on opposite sides. These borders can create everlasting conflicts and disputes over land and resources. In the documentary “5 Broken Cameras,” we were able to experience first hand the aftermath of Israel’s decision to build a barrier infringing upon Palestinian land. There were physical encounters that left many people injured and even more dead. We also saw how borders impacted the lives of individuals in Ireland. In the report, “The Principal Conclusions and Overall Assessment of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry” we witness the recount of the events that transpired on “Bloody Sunday” and the severity of these events. All of this violence and animosity between the two social groups present, has stemmed from the fact that there is a border that has divided these two communities.
Not only have we observed physical borders throughout the course of the year, but we have also encountered mental borders. In the novel “Borderlands,” author Gloria E. Anzaldúa becomes reprimanded and alienated from her society for being a homosexual. There is not a concrete barrier that separates Anzaldúa from the community she was raised in for the duration of her life, however, as a result of sexuality she became an outcast. People’s thoughts and ideas can land one on the opposite side of a mental border; separating them from their families and loved ones.
Reading literature can be imperative in understanding borders and how they impact individual lives. Books can present information in the best possible way: uninterrupted it. You as a reader cannot argue with a book. Yes you may disagree with them, but the ideas presented in the book will be there, unless you decide to stop reading. Therefore, books open our minds to themes and ideas we may have never considered without rebuttal. For example, you may disagree with Jamaica Kincaid’s perception of tourism in Antigua in her novel “A Small Place,” however, unless you come in contact with her, there is going to be no way that she knows you disapprove. Literature helps us come to terms with certain issues because it presents them in an indisputable way. You may be able to pick out hints of bias or ideas you disagree with, but you are forced to continue reading it, opening your mind to ideas from another point of view.
My final take away of borders is this. There are borders present in our society that go unnoticed every single day. Do not only interpret a border as a physical barrier dividing two separate communities. There are borders in our lives that you would not even think twice to categorize it as such, however, they are there. As humans, we are gifted with the ability to adapt. Be apprehensive of these borders and work to adapt around them, or with them. They are ever changing and you must be the one to keep up with them, not vice versa.