Well, I am one of those boring people who overthink everything and complicate matters. I admit it. Some people doubt that I could make a good journalist because of the speed required in the field. But the speed required doesn’t mean going for the obvious or accepting whatever you are told just to get things done.

We all know that facts checking and accuracy are integral parts of journalists work.

Maybe sometimes they are the reason for our nightmares but that’s how we get credibility and cultural autonomy.

I personally enjoy investigative journalism. Not to mention, I make my life even much more miserable by taking a step further to think about the logic behind things not just verifying their accuracy!

As journalists, we normally report about real-life events and tell actual stories. We don’t write about Existentialism, the Big Bang, or the theory of evolution. We don’t do philosophy. We deal with facts and make sense of numbers. 

I do understand all of that and I made a conscious decision to work as a journalist. But still, I can’t resist the urge of questioning settled principles and logics.

Certainly, I have never shared those kinds of questions in my reporting, and never will. But in this blog post I decided to share one of the un-published non-journalistic questions.

Borders and land ownership.

When it was recently reported that Egypt has decided to hand-over two of its islands, Tiran and Sanafir, to Saudi Arabia, I started to question the logic behind “borders and land ownership.”

The agreement -signed on the 9th of April between the two countries- hit the Egyptians hard in their national pride. They felt betrayed by their government who decided to sell their lands without considering their opinion or raising the issue for the public debate.

The authorities in the two countries insisted after the agreement that the two islands have always been part of the Saudi territory and Egypt was just assigned by Saudi to protect them.

The people in Egypt were appalled by the non-sense statements. They have been learning since their very early years at schools that the two islands belong to their country. They fought for those pieces of ground and lost hundreds of their men to liberate Tiran from the Israeli forces in 1967 and NOW their government is announcing that they have never been within the Egyptian borders!

Throughout history, borders have been dynamic. They were pushed back and forth through conquer and violence, peaceful selling or through agreements between leading powers.

The United States of America purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867, the Berlin Conference divided Africa between the European powers in 1884-85, and Sykes-Picot agreement divided the whole Middle East region into British and French control areas. Not to mention, With the stroke of a pen, a WHOLE NATION could be formed. A letter from the UK’s Foreign Secretary to a leader of the British Jewish community in 1917 established a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine!! 

The name of your country must have been the third word you spoke after your name and some trials of “mama and papaa”. And definitely one of the earliest things you learnt at school was the geography of your country and its borders. Those kind of things are unquestionable. They are a “NO-GO ZONE” for exploration!

SO LETS EXPLORE BORDERS! 

Borders are the lines drawn on maps to outline an area that a particular governing body controls. They don’t exist in the real world but they get their physical presence through the existence of people and resources within those imaginary lines. They also seperate the influence of different governing bodies (maybe that justifies why they change over time when power and influence changes).

People who live within those lines share the same culture, language, and history. They view their borders as the frame that represents pride and dignity.

All the wars and the shedding of blood throughout the history of humanity occurred to protect those lines and ,interestingy enough, in royal or presidential palaces' fancy receptions leaders decide to give them up.

These points on maps- known as borders- are a reflection of power. They are determined by leaders’ ambitions and greed and then made de-facto realities when geographers draw them on maps and atlases.

People afterwards are required to learn them well to know where their pride and honour lies and how far they are allowed to travel and move freely without being stopped by the border control.

But the border control could only stop humans. Environmental disasters, earthquakes, volcanoes, viruses and nuclear bombs' radiations don’t acknowledge the existence of borders and just travel freely to affect the whole planet. 

Albert Einstein once asked “Why would it take a massive disaster or an alien invasion like you see in the movies for us all to realise that these borders between countries mean NOTHING and that we are all inhabitants of planet earth. Why cant we understand that now?"

Back to reality:

I am still a journalist. Borders exist.  Agreements between countries still take place and I will continue reporting on this crap because simply they affect people’s lives even if I know quite well that the whole concept is just ludicrous!

So why the hell did I write that?

I decided to share what I sometimes pass through because I am sure that many of us –the journalists- pass through similar thoughts and anxieties while reporting on stories but still can produce a fair piece of journalism after all.

One of the perks of being a journalist is that your agitation should not be heard. It should be kept to yourself. That’s why I advise every journalist to avoid philosophy or at least to resist the temptation of asking philosophical questions till he has enough money to afford getting cured from madness.

 

A journalist's non-journalistic investigation