Boundaries play a significant role in demarcation of geographic limits of various territories. Boundaries have since time immemorial been embraced by various communities as formidable barriers for those who are fond of overstepping their mandates. It is common knowledge that people regard certain natural and human physical features to serve as boundaries between groups that would have had a mutual agreement on this issue. Boundaries can be natural or political. Natural boundaries are those that existed from the beginning of the universe and naturally separated the planet in broader territories such as continents, islands, highlands, and lowlands among others. Examples of natural boundaries include: mountain ranges, valleys, water bodies, deserts, and alike. As people began embracing civilization, the need for socioeconomic and political organization was born. This necessitated creation of political boundaries. Political boundaries were created out of people’s own interests in territories that had potential resources of interest to them. These boundaries were a result of the scramble and partition of continental plates into smaller administrative units called countries, regions, provinces, districts, divisions, and counties among others. Some of the political boundaries include fences, natural and artificial landmarks, trenches, longitudes and latitudes, and perimeter walls such as the famous Great Wall of China as well as the one that subdivided Germany into East and West Germany. A critical look at political boundaries and natural boundaries reveals that political boundaries have created more turbulence in the world as compared to natural boundaries
There are a number of merits that are associated with the instigation of political boundaries. First, subdivision of the continent into numerous administrative units has made it easy for the leadership to bring pertinent services closer to the people. Today, many people have become civilized due to such service as education and health, which are the first fruits of political boundaries. The proximity of people to administrative offices also fosters the sense of security among them. This has made it easy for people to seek justice whenever one would be offended. Perhaps, being far from the administration could have made it hard for disputants to resolve their disputes in a manner that would cultivate harmony. Other developments that have been brought in communities because of political boundaries involve intermingling of representatives of different communities under one nation. This has brought about positive diversity in which people of different ethnicities can learn from each other as they interact with one another. Cultural diversities have played a significant role in fostering development in various communities. People have been obliged to emulate positive elements of other communities to enrich their own lives. Furthermore, people of different communities have also learnt to live together as one people despite their cultural and religious differences because they are bound by a common constitution and common leaders as their national symbols of peace.
Introduction of political boundaries has made it difficult for communities to provide total security to the people. This is because political boundaries have made it possible for people from other communities, territories, and countries to trespass while going about their errands. It has not been easy to know whether one has crossed over to another territory or not, especially with imaginary boundaries. It is therefore logical to allude that political boundaries have been the biggest contributor of ethnic and extra-territorial conflicts that have become pervasive in the world. The best example is the imaginary Gaza Strip, which is hitherto the bone of contention between Israel and Palestine.
Besides, political boundaries have caused a great division among people of similar communities. Some communities have found themselves in other countries and therefore separated from their kinsmen who by default belong in other territories. Since each country would subsequently be governed by different political ideologies and principles, divided communities have been adversely affected. First, it is difficult to maintain certain cultural beliefs and customs of these communities since different political structures have a different impact on existing cultures. For instance, some communities that had embraced certain plants such as marijuana and khart for their cultural significance suffered from inconvenience when the nation in which one part of their community belonged had to outlaw the usage of the drug, while the other part of the community perpetuated the practice. As such, most indigenous customs and traditions that have for long been of great significance to communities have become extinct with time. The same people from the some communities could later assume different ideas, adopt different regulations stipulated by the new administration, and embrace new religions and cultures that accompany political administrators. In a nutshell, political boundaries have killed indigenous cultures and paved way for civilized cultures, which has made many people alienated in the name of embracing modernity.
Apart from that, initial symbols of power in many communities such as monarchs, emperors, and empresses lost power and popularity following the introduction of political boundaries. This is the situation that triggered feelings of protest among people of different communities, leading to resistance activities as other communities collaborated. Nonetheless, as fate would have it, of all communities that resisted the exotic rule and that collaborated, none of them had dominion over the alien rule, but instead all were colonized and subdued. That was the last nail on the existence of indigenous rule by traditional monarchs, chiefs, emperors, and empresses among others.
Political boundaries have hitherto set people in fashioned captivity. Before the creation of political boundaries, people in the same community had the liberty to carry out their activities in accordance with their beliefs and customs. The same people were free to move and settle anywhere within their own communities without any restrictions. The introduction of political boundaries came with a lot of restrictive measure that perpetually limited people’s freedom of movement, association, and alike. In the present world, different countries have stipulated various laws, which prohibit free movement from one state to another across the political boundary even if it is within the same community. As such, the authorities have as well introduced identification and travel documents, which each person must carry with him or her while crossing political borders to other territories. The best example is the boundaries created among Americans forcing some to belong to Canada, others to the USA, as well as others belonging to Mexico. Initially, the people of this land existed peacefully in their own small communities without restrictions. However, since the introduction of these political boundaries, these communities ceased identifying themselves with their indigenous communities, culture, and traditions and instead began identifying themselves with Canada, Mexico, and the USA. Since the commencement of this new order, freedom that people once enjoyed ceased to exist and people had to adopt the order brought by the new authorities within their political boundaries. They had therefore to adapt to new logistical considerations while performing their functions within and beyond their political boundaries.
Despite that, it should be noted that due to the introduction of political boundaries, considerable animosity has been augmented among communities of different ethnic groups and races. People of different communities that had distinct leadership structures were finally clustered as one people belonging to one nation, county, region, or province. This arrangement really caused untold problems as these people were initially used to different styles of living, cultures, and leadership. Putting them under one common leadership structure only aroused a myriad of convolutions that characterize the modern world. It is sad that the contemporary world is grappling with many endless conflicts that have claimed lives of innumerable people, caused many children to become orphans, and made many other people displaced.
Natural boundaries played a significant role in communities before the world was subdivided by political boundaries. Natural boundaries such as mountain ranges, lakes, rivers, seas, and oceans inculcated discipline among people of different communities who had total respect for one another and lived together in harmony. There were no reasons to trespass because people had learnt to live within the confines of their boundaries. It was also easy to combat enemies because the same natural boundaries used to act as formidable barriers during the times of war. Whenever there was an intrusion, communities could easily intercept them as their military personnel used to pitch camp at strategic boundaries.
Besides, before political boundaries came into existence, communities separated by natural boundaries had their own traditional leaders who were instituted on the basis of unique traditional laws and principles of a particular community. Different communities had distinct laws and a unique organization socially, economically, as well as politically. There was also due respect to natural boundaries, which made them coexist peacefully with their neighboring communities. It is sad to mention that the instigation of political boundaries brought about confusion in the organization of these communities as people had to pledge allegiance to new administrators who proved to be more powerful than traditional leaders of each community. As the foreign influence consolidated, the solidarity among these communities began to disintegrate since traditional leaders from different communities gradually lost power to foreign administrators.
Natural boundaries fixed people of different communities in socio-cultural cocoons such that no meaningful development was going on until political boundaries were introduced. Natural boundaries prevented people from embracing variety; hence, their lives were monotonous all through. Apart from that, during the era of natural boundaries, there were fewer restrictions imposed on people to prevent them from moving over to another place. This means that some people ended up losing identity as none could associate them with any community. In brief, the sense of belonging was lower than at the time when political boundaries became a norm. Finally, natural boundaries are permanently fixed and can never be adjusted like political boundaries, which are merely imaginary and can be moved at any time upon agreement among concerned parties.
Although natural boundaries have no negative effects that can be seen with respect to political boundaries, no one can imagine the extent to which these natural boundaries could have influenced lives. At least, one can agree that the multiplicity caused by the introduction of political boundaries has created variety in people’s lifestyles and political, social, and economic organizations, which have made lives enjoyable and full of fun. Life could have been boring if people from single communities continued to live together for all the years of their lives without interacting with others. This means that the world could have been a boring place to live and there could be little or no developmental projects like is the ones observed today. Negative effects of political boundaries have been perpetuated following the adamant attitude of many people from different communities accepting change. As the saying goes, ‘resistance to change inhibits progress’. The elimination of minute differences in the system of leadership of current communities and the acceptance of change are the only ways that would cultivate peace all over the world. Otherwise, whether political or natural boundaries are there or not, the reality remains that people need to coexist in order to live meaningfully.