“Border is the outer edge of something while boundary is the dividing line or location between two areas.” Is that a difference without a distinction or is there a substantial significance after using one term or the other? Let’s look at that together.
WHY TALK ABOUT THIS NOW?
If not now, when? If not, why not? Those are the simple answers to a simple question. But the issue is actually much more complex.
I’m always in the mood for writing, but I sometimes do not have a topic to write about. That has been the case since I disengaged from politics after the recent national election season.
The point of this soliloquy is not to pontificate about matters of politics, foreign policy, national security, ethics or spiritual dilemmas. I have written extensively about these topics in the past which you can see here.
INCLUSIVENESS IS AN ATTITUDE, NOT A LAW
From persons spending their lives atop pillars in the ancient Mediterranean world to hermits and recluses around the globe, there are some folks who just don’t really want to be around the rest of us. Some do it ostensibly to be closer to a Deity. Others just want to be alone.
Rather than approaching this subject theoretically or abstractly, we need to focus on those things that define us and which consequently keep us apart from others. Some of it, as alluded to above, is within our own hearts and minds. But some of it is determined externally, imposed partially by geography but also as a result of geopolitical considerations.
God created the world with all its physical features, including mountains, deserts, rivers and oceans. He also specifically drew the outlines of islands in the sea. So why are some of them actually parts of separate countries?
Borders are arbitrary lines drawn by human being sometimes in harmony with geographical features and sometimes totally oblivious of them. I am that rare individual who actually loves the study of geography and maps and can visualize most of the world in my mind’s eye. However, I realize that is the exception rather than the rule.
As I sit here writing these words on my front porch on the island of Oahu, there are a few who would have to even look up where this island is. Even those who know it is the location of the City and County of Honolulu in Hawaii, might be a bit hard-pressed to find us on a map. We are definitely not just off the coast of Baja California or in the Caribbean as some mapmakers like to put both Hawaii and Alaska just to truncate the scope of their graphics.
I’ve always been fascinated both with enclaves which are parts of a country that are geographically separate from the rest of the country and with islands that are controlled by different national authorities. I will mention just a few which you can do a Google search on if you want more information.
The large island of New Guinea is divided between the independent nation of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. The entire island of course is situated in Melanesia. It is far from Jakarta which is on the island of Java. It is not racial or ethnic reasons that the island is divided, but rather about the military and diplomatic might of a major nation such as Indonesia.
Another example closer to home for the United States is the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean, with a western portion being the nation of Haiti and the eastern part being the Dominican Republic. One speaks a version of French and the other Spanish. We won’t go into the historical reasons for this scenario.
I’ve always been fascinated by anomalies of small countries surrounded by bigger ones such as Lesotho surrounded by South Africa and San Marino by Italy. There are also tiny countries in the midst of much larger ones such as Liechtenstein and Andorra in Europe.
But there are also examples of ethnicities which have no homeland on their own. The one that comes most readily to mind are the Kurds in the Middle East, whose ancient territory overlaps the borders of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey with varying degrees of hostility by those countries. Yet, this is not only the ancient home of the Kurds who are mostly Muslim, but also of the descendants of Assyrian Christians who still speak a dialect akin to Aramaic which was spoken by Jesus.
Those in power draw national borders and those lacking power are all too often at their mercies or lack thereof. More often than not, it is the lack thereof.
Let’s put this one in abeyance temporarily until we look specifically at the geopolitical realities here in our own country, the United States of America. I just wanted to set the scene by demonstrating that the lines, whether physical or political or psychological, constitute a global phenomenon, that this is not a uniquely American experience.
GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY ARE IRREVOCABLY INTERTWINED
Any student of history understands that national borders change. You could ask the people of Crimea whether they want to be under Ukraine or Russia. This is a very complex subject and we won’t get off on that tangent at this point.
Many people today are historically illiterate which is intentionally aggravated by those imposing the current “cancel culture” as they try to erase our memory of who we are and where we came from so we won’t know how we got here or where we are going. We are totally defenseless if we allow the perpetrators to dictate to us our identity. We then become a blank slate upon which they can superimpose any Marxist, Islamist or other foreign ideology upon our individual and national psyche.
As I have been here over seven decades, I am blessed to have a very long and clear memory. I am sometimes amazed at converts to Islam who totally disown their own heritage, their families, their communities and their nation, proving their allegiance to that ideology all too often by violence. I won’t dwell upon this or go into detail, but I remember a lot of things from my early childhood and the loved ones who have gone on before to their eternal homes, that you could never take that away from me no matter what you do.
I believe it is the ability to be introspective and to think for oneself and never to go with the crowd or buy into groupthink that prevents us from becoming lemmings going over the cliff to our demise just because everybody around us is doing so. When I was young, if I ever said to my mom, can I do such-and-such just because Johnnie and the other kids are doing so, she would say, so if they stuck their head in the fire would you want to do that too?
Neither my mom nor my dad had the opportunity to graduate from high school, growing up during the Depression days in Oklahoma. But they had something which far too many people today with higher educations and much higher incomes lack. They had common sense and decency.
That’s why I consider myself fortunate to have been born where I was and when I was. We weren’t quite as poor as church mice, but I’m pretty sure we were in the same federal income tax bracket. Maybe that’s why I’m still so fond of cheese.
We have international borders only with Canada and Mexico. Whatever funny jokes you may remember about Sarah Palin saying she could see Russia from her house, though I believe that was actually a Saturday Night Live parody, the distance across the Bering Strait between Alaska and Siberia is much less than you would imagine.
But we do have borders between states and with the District of Columbia. When I was working in our nation’s capital and living in suburban Fairfax County, Virginia, I was shocked that my account in a local bank in Virginia did not exist in a bank of the same name on Pennsylvania Avenue just about three blocks from the White House near where I worked at U.S. Customs Service headquarters at 1301 Constitution Avenue back then. They said I could not withdraw money from my account, because despite the name they were a separate and distinct financial institution because they were in DC rather than Virginia. So passing via the Metro Orange Line under the Potomac really was an important domestic border crossing.
Washington DC is neither Virginia nor Maryland. Rather it belongs to We the People of the entire United States of America. Crossing the state line in much of the country is always a change in many ways. It’s very obvious from this last election how states are governed very differently. It’s also obvious that within each state’s borders are boundaries between red areas and blue areas. You won’t see that on any street signs or city limits signs. Hey, you just left the red area and entered the blue area, so you are on your own, dude. It won’t say that, but it’s just as true.
Now is the time to talk about that in the uniquely American context. Here on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, there is the Honolulu District in which all street addresses will receive mail addressed as Honolulu. I learned that when I first came here in 1978 and was staying temporarily in an area not far from the airport known as Salt Lake. But any outgoing or incoming mail that said Salt Lake was very judiciously censored by the U.S. Postal Service. For God’s sake, they didn’t want anybody to think we were in Utah. But if you live in Ewa Beach or Waipahu or Haleiwa or Kaneohe, that can go on the envelope. The reason it seems so strange to me is that both the Honolulu District and the rest of the island are all part of the City and County of Honolulu with only one mayor and under the jurisdiction of the HPD. But even though within Honolulu District there are many neighborhoods, including the tourist trap of Waikiki, they are disallowed and disavowed by the Postal Service.
We occasionally go to Pearlridge Shopping Center which is in Aiea, passing through Pearl City on the way. Whether on the H-1 freeway or on city streets, even 43 years since I first came here, I cannot tell you for sure where the boundary is between Aiea and Pearl City. Or, for that matter, whether it really matters. We lived for a while in an area up on the mountain side on West Oahu called Makakilo. Originally we had a zip code and mailing address which said Ewa Beach but then when the Second City of Kapolei was built, that became our address. Even the term Second City is rather misleading because Kapolei is still part of the City and County of Honolulu. Go figure. But since the FBI moved out of the Federal Building in downtown Honolulu into Kapolei, I guess that legitimizes this as an emerging center of government and commerce.
I just used Hawaii as an example because I live here and am familiar with the area. You could give similar examples wherever you reside, I’m sure. But this was building up to a more significant point. There are boundaries that have more legal significance than those we’ve just been discussing.
When I was talking about the importance of remembering history, I was alluding to the fact that our country did not just instantly pop into existence the way it is today. After the first 13 colonies, other states entered the Union one by one. Some seceded during the Civil War and were readmitted afterwards. Both Texas and Hawaii were independent nations before becoming states of the Union.
Now there is speculation about admitting Washington DC and or Puerto Rico to statehood. The fact that those two territories are suggested, even by Hawaii’s Senators, rather than America’s Pacific territories of Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa, shows you that the thrust is political and not benevolent. Nor do they suggest the U.S Virgin Islands. They just see bunches and bunches of Democrat votes in DC and Puerto Rico. None of these territories has electoral votes and U.S. citizens living in them are basically disenfranchised in presidential elections unless they have a legal voting address elsewhere.
When you take the 7-hour flight from Guam to Hawaii, are you crossing an international border or a domestic boundary? First, answer that in your own mind. Now, I will tell you that confuses a lot of people including those who live in those territories. All of those I mentioned other than American Samoa are U.S. soil and everyone born there is a U.S. citizen. American Samoans are U.S. Nationals unless they are naturalized to become U.S. citizens and cannot vote even in a U.S state unless they do so. Nor can they run for political office. A GOP candidate for local office in Hawaii a few years ago was disqualified for that very reason.
For immigration purposes, Guam and CNMI are part of the United States but they are excluded from the U.S. Customs Territory. So if you fly from Guam to Hawaii, you are already in the United States as far as immigration is concerned, but crossing a border for Customs purposes and subject to a warrantless border search and the payment of duty on foreign merchandise. I can’t tell you how many letters I wrote while working at the International Mail Branch here in Honolulu for the signature of our U.S. Customs Service District Director explaining to people why their package mailed from Guam was subject to duty or to the confiscation of any prohibited items.
When U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service were merged in 2003, we went from the Treasury Department and they went from Department of Justice into the new Homeland Security Department. As a Customs supervisor, I found myself supervising immigration processing and the reverse also happened with Immigration supervisors overseeing Customs examinations and cargo. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers in Guam and CNMI still however can only do Immigration duties because they are still outside the U.S. Customs territory and both territories have their own Commonwealth Customs Officers who are not part of the United States federal government.
So, are you crossing the border between Guam and Hawaii? The answer is yes and the answer is also no.
NATIVE AMERICAN RESERVATIONS
Native Hawaiians are Polynesian and are not in the same legal category as American Indians or Alaska Natives. That is a very sensitive subject here in the islands and I will only say that I hope and pray that Native Hawaiians will soon be able to speak with one voice when dealing with the federal government on this issue. Some desire autonomy, and self-governance. To others, sovereignty means returning to Hawaiian Independence and self rule, no longer being part of the United States. I do not have an opinion on this and entrust it to the original inhabitants of these beautiful islands to determine their own destiny.
Here is an article which I wrote last July after the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in the case of McGirt v Oklahoma. The 1866 Treaty between the United States and the Muscogee Creek Nation is still in full effect and the Reservation was never disestablished to the chagrin of the Republican Governor and Senators from Oklahoma.
I am a citizen of Muscogee Creek Nation as well as of the United States of America, but I do not speak officially for either. I am a retired U.S. Federal Officer with U.S. Customs border experience. I spent 42 years serving the United States both on active duty in the U.S. Air Force and as a civilian employee. The key point here is that the relationship of Muscogee Creek Nation, as with other sovereign indigenous tribes, is with the U.S. federal government. That continues regardless of which political party reigns in Washington, DC.
The boundaries of reservations do have legal significance. The state of Oklahoma should never have exercised legal jurisdiction over natives on native land. But they improperly did so since statehood in 1907. While the SCOTUS decision last year only affirmed the Muscogee Creek Reservation, a precedent certainly has been set respecting the reservations of the Seminole, Cherokee, Choctaw and Chickasaw. Basically the entire eastern half of Oklahoma.
While I do have some expertise in federal law, I am not an attorney and do not speak about specific issues of law in Indian Country. My context in this article anyway is the significance of boundaries. Most of the City of Tulsa is on the Muscogee Creek Nation Reservation. Both tribal and federal law enforcement and judicial systems are working well together. So do local police departments and sheriffs with Muscogee Creek Nation Lighthorse Police Department and courts. Both the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys have admirably picked up the additional workload for major cases.
But looking at it from the geographic perspective considering boundaries, a Native American who is either an alleged perpetrator or a victim of a crime would be treated differently depending upon which side of a boundary he or she was on. That could be measured in feet or even in inches, not necessarily by miles. Unless involved on either side of a crime with a Native American, non-natives are basically not impacted.
Concluding this section, let it be said that American Indians are not just a racial category but are defined by law. There is no self-identification. Either there is proof of blood quantum or there is not. Senator Elizabeth Warren claiming that she has Cherokee heritage in a political campaign is one thing, but if she had to prove it for jurisdictional purposes if she ever leaves Massachusetts for a while and gets back to Oklahoma, that would be just a wee bit more complex.
A CLOSER ANALYSIS
“Border is the outer edge of something while boundary is the dividing line or location between two areas.” So, sometimes it really is important which term you use. Crossing boundaries can also bear consequences, just as happens when one crosses a border. But not all boundaries have the objectively discernible status that we have been discussing. Even if a national border or the boundaries of an Indian Reservation are not clearly marked, the GPS coordinates will absolutely determine where something occurred.
But, if a young man makes an approach to a young lady and she tells him that he is out of bounds, that boundary may not be already clearly articulated and defined. It may subjectively be what she determines it to be. But, nonetheless, that boundary does exist and if he transgresses, there will be not only romantic and personal consequences, but potentially legal ones as well.
Finally, let us consider self-imposed boundaries. Some of these are arbitrary and do not need to exist. Specifically, I mean that we should not let the circumstances of our birth, our race and ethnicity, the area in which we were born or our economic status limit our relationship with others.
I really had the perfect job when I worked for U.S. Customs, not only the law enforcement nature of the position, but my interest in geography and history, moreover my fascination with people and cultures and languages around the world. Whether I am talking to someone in the Philippines, Australia, Japan or family and friends back in Oklahoma, I am 100% the same person. I am enriched by the diversity of those whom I am blessed to be acquainted with or to be related to.
I WILL LEAVE YOU WITH THIS
Every one of us is much more than just a mouthpiece for our government. We have a responsibility to respect those in authority whether or not we helped put them there or whether it was over our utmost objections. Diplomats are expected to toe the line of the government they represent. Common everyday people like you and me can relate to one another regardless of where we live or our nationality or political affiliation. That is unhindered by artificial boundaries of race, ethnicity or language as long as we have a
lingua franca in which to communicate.
While respecting actual official borders and boundaries, let’s not create artificial ones in our own hearts and minds. Brown, red, yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world. So, likewise we must not place boundaries in our personal lives where our Lord did not.
COVID-19 lockdowns are taking down an independent news outlet
Nobody said running a media site would be easy. We could use some help keeping this site afloat.
Colleagues have called me the worst fundraiser ever. My skills are squarely rooted on the journalistic side of running a news outlet. Paying the bills has never been my forte, but we’ve survived. We have ads on the site that help, but since the site’s inception this has been a labor of love that otherwise doesn’t bring in the level of revenue necessary to justify it.
When I left a nice, corporate career in 2017, I did so knowing I wouldn’t make nearly as much money. But what we do at NOQ Report to deliver the truth and fight the progressive mainstream media narrative that has plagued this nation is too important for me to sacrifice it for the sake of wealth. We know we’ll never make a ton of money this way, and we’re okay with that.
Things have become harder with the coronavirus lockdowns. Both ad money and donations that have kept us afloat for a while have dropped dramatically. We thought we could weather the storm, but the resurgence of lockdowns that mainstream media and Democrats are pushing has put our prospects in jeopardy. In short, we are now in desperate need of financial assistance.
The best way NOQ Report readers can help is to donate. Our Giving Fuel page makes it easy to donate one-time or monthly. Alternatively, you can donate through PayPal as well. We need approximately $17,300 to stay afloat through March when we hope the economy will be more open, but more would be wonderful and any amount that brings us closer to our goal is greatly appreciated.
The second way to help is to become a partner. We’ve strongly considered seeking angel investors in the past but because we were paying the bills, it didn’t seem necessary. Now, we’re struggling to pay the bills. This shouldn’t be the case as our traffic the last year has been going up dramatically. June, 2018, we had 11,678 visitors. A year later in June, 2019, we were up to 116,194. In June, 2020, we had 614,192. In November, 2020, we hit 1.2 million visitors.
We’re heading in the right direction and we believe we’re ready talk to patriotic investors who want to not only “get in on the action” but more importantly who want to help America hear the truth. Interested investors should contact me directly with the contact button above.
As the world spirals towards radical progressivism, the need for truthful journalism has never been greater. But in these times, we need as many conservative media voices as possible. Please help keep NOQ Report going.