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  • You know how when we were kids we imagined things and sometimes they felt so real? When I was 9 years old I could have sworn I saw a mermaid splash to the surface of the Ganges river, even though she was only there for a second.
    Some of us imagined seeing fairies, mermaids, dragons, aliens, spirits and other things. We hid in caves made of blankets and umbrellas, played with dolls and toy cars that moved and talked and had feelings. Once or twice I felt really guilty after neglecting a toy for a long time.

    Then we grew up and those things became "ridiculous". Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy are tales for silly children and now we're mature and more intelligent and realistic.

    Yep. That's what growing up is: becoming logical and realistic.

    Or is it? Does growing up really mean leaving behind the childish imagination? Or does it actually mean imagining things to such a degree that they become real? And dangerous?

    Take countries, for example. Are they not simply the products of a great collective imagination? Is there really a line in the Earth dividing Mexico from the USA, India from Pakistan?
    Our belief in countries is so damn strong we're willing to kill each other for it. Palestine? Israel? The collective imagination is so powerful that they built a big fat concrete wall in order to separate the "us" from "them".

    Thanks to the adult imagination we have Mexicans and Americans, Indians and Pakistanis, Chileans, Bolivians, Argentinians, Columbians, Japanese, Chinese, Germans, French, British, and the list goes on. All of us SO proud of the imagined country we belong to we're willing to fight for it, kill for it and die for it.

    Today Chileans and Bolivians are okay, tomorrow my cousin might be killing a Bolivian or vice versa because of an imaginary boundary that prevents the Bolivians access to the sea.

    Also thanks to the collective imagination we have Muslims and Christians and Hindus and Jews, jihads and crusades and lots and lots of murder in the name of...whom or what exactly? A reality? A fact? Or a very powerful and dangerous fiction? If you're a Hindu and you cross the imagined border into Pakistan...or a Muslim in Israel...or a Mexican in Los Angeles who has no right to be there thanks to that imaginary boundary? Is this safe?

    Actually, I think the only difference between a childish imagination and adult imagination is murder. That's really all there is to it. Adults kill for their fantasies, kids don't.

    I wonder what it'd be like if people no longer believed in this fantasy. What would happen if there were no imaginary borders? Because the reality is that we are all living on the same earth. An earthquake in Japan causes tsunamis from California to Chile. That is a fact, that is reality. The Earth absorbs the blood of so-called Iraqis as well as that of so-called Americans.

    I think the idea terrifies people, because we've lost SO MUCH due to these fantasies that it would be very difficult to face the reality that so many of our loved ones died for something that is not even real. But now I invite you to imagine one last thing:

    Imagine that countries don't exist. Imagine the people of the Earth living as one. We are the people of the Earth, it is OUR planet and we love it and share it. The people living in Africa and Europe and Asia and North America and South America and the Pacific are my neighbors. We share this common identity.
    There are no wars for land because the land belongs to all of us and we share it equally. Fervent nationalism is replaced by a pride and love for our planet the Earth and unites us against all that threatens our planet: air pollution, water pollution, meteorites, you name it. Instead of wasting time and money and resources waging wars we put everything we've got into ending starvation and poverty all over our planet. We put our great minds to work figuring out how to solve the garbage problem that's filling up the valleys of our planet and floating around our oceans. The other great minds are trying to find a solution for the air pollution crisis. Nobody is thinking about creating nuclear bombs or fighter jets or energy-blasting sci-fi guns. We're all busy trying to find a cure for cancer and AIDS.

    You're probably thinking "This girl is a communist or an anarchist."
    I'm not.
    I don't believe communism or anarchism will solve anything. People have tried those things and they haven't worked. I just want people to stop killing each other in the name of some fantasy. I know it doesn't solve all problems. Sexism, homophobia, racism, religious intolerance etc. are not bound by countries. But we all know how powerful our imagination can be, it can turn fantasy into reality. So if we all stopped believing in countries, it'd be a damn good start at making peace on Earth.


    I hope you don't mind, I added a few of my favorite cowbird authors as characters. Sorry if I missed someone, it was off the top of my head.
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