Borders and Innocence

In a group interview, someone asked if borders are necessary and if we should have them. This question may seem like it has a simple answer, but in reality, does not. Borders have been (directly and indirectly) the cause for many issues around the world for many decades and even centuries. 

As Balibar mentioned in “We, the People of Europe,” they are problematic and unnecessary in certain situations or contexts, but highly important and necessary in others. Now, these invisible land borders serve as a gateway for people’s fates, for their lives, for their survival. The borders only open up to those who may appear to look like “us” or “them,” such as the Syrian boy, Aylan. This is what leads to the imbalances in percent acceptance of refugees when comparing white refugees to black refugees. Their so-called “innocence” is defined by their appearances more-so than their experiences and sufferings.

It’s disappointing to see how appearances and identity have a big role in determining whose lives we decide are worthy of saving. The word “innocent,” in my opinion, is very problematic, because it implies that all other refugees are not innocent or not worthy of helping. Economic migrants and refugees fleeing war or persecution may have different causes of suffering, but either way, it is suffering and could lead to their death by war or by starvation. So, who is to judge which lives are worth aiding? Why is these people’s worthiness of survival subject to the opinions of an interviewer? If a refugee or migrant is risking his/her life in order to seek refuge and safety or security but being denied this, what, then, defines them being a “real” refugee “worthy of saving”? Evidently, it’s not always enough that this “other” is also a person, a human being, who should be treated equally, regardless of their appearance, identity, belief, or race.