The Border Guard
Oil painting by me, Paul A. L. Hall, yours truly, etc.
Oil on Canvass, 1968, Washington D.C.
A border guard, at some neglected frontier road sits quietly at three A.M., local time, in his heated hut, a bottle of uncorked Chianti and a ceramic cup on the small table in front of him act as paperweights against the wind that bursts through the infrequently opened door. Dressed in civilian clothes, enough income to afford leather shoes, his only sign of office a military style hat which he never bothers to take off.
He is actually a sort of symbol, you know? This is, in a way, a portrait of the economic failure of whole nations. Those that, however inadvertently, choke off the flow of goods and services, confining them to a nationality, an ethnicity, a "what's-mine-is-not-yours" "that's-how-we've-always-done-it" "we-are-an-island" mentality.
Well, you might ask, what then is the alternative? That's just it. They've had six thousand damned years to try to find one. With failure comes barriers and with barriers comes stagnation. It does appear at least that border porosity doesn't work either. What can I say? Do your homework.
Having said that, there's always the opposite side of the coin. Becoming too big. Either a giant super power or a giant sweat shop for outsourced labor. Still the ever present barriers. And in-between the myriad of tiny border outposts in tiny towns or lonely roads of tiny nations in-between.