Not long ago I saw an article that amused me. It was a bunch of eggheads puzzling over the mystery of how humans were able to domesticate dogs. I had to laugh. Clearly none of those guys had ever domesticated a wild animal. Any mammal that lives in social groups, and some birds, domesticate easily. Don’t hit them with a stick and give them food. I dare you to try and get rid of them after that. I have rescued and raised cottontails, raccoon, and red squirrel. I know people who have had pet flying squirrels, grey squirrels, foxes, and I once dated a girl who raised a whitetail doe. The damned thing lived in the house and slept in the bed with her every night. Don’t ask.

Anyway, the real question is not how did we domesticate dogs, but why. My wife jokes that we did not domesticate dogs, they domesticated us–or as she says dogmesticated. I think it is closer to enslavement. Hold on while I check my grocery list. I think they need more chews and treats, maybe even a bag of food that runs around $50….

I’m back. The answer, of course, is simple. Having a pack of wolves hanging around your paleolithic camp at night is a good idea when you live in a world where all manner of beast and man are trying to eat you. It is nearly impossible to sneak up on a camp of sleeping people without sounding the alarm by waking the wolves. They were the original burglar alarm. In that world, people didn’t move around all that much. Wander outside your tribe’s territory and you were likely going to be put on a spit. Contemporary primitive cultures live within strict boundaries. Many people I have met in the more backward parts of the world live out their whole lives never traveling more than a few miles from the spot where they were born. I once tried to explain to a Bolivian who wanted to know where I was from by telling him how long it would take to get there by canoe. “Two years that way,” and I pointed north. That made sense to him.

Beyond the pale. Ever wonder what that means or where it came from? Europeans didn’t have the extinct Eurasian wolf to domesticate, so they would build a fence around their village that was bristling with sharpened sticks or thorns. That was called the pale. Try to get past it and you were likely to be impaled. It was often whitewashed, which is why we use the word ‘pale’ to describe a color. At night, if someone got inside the pale, their silhouette could be seen more easily against the white background. The expression ‘beyond the pale’ refers to going outside the safe zone or going too far.

I am saying that there was never a golden age of gamboling about the fields and dales. Throughout all of human history, people lived within strict boundaries. Go outside those boundaries and some dude named Trog was going to bring your nutsack home to his wife so that she could tan it and make a little purse out of it. Travel has always been restricted. In fact, I would contend that people have more freedom of movement today than at any time in history.

I have heard people blame travel restriction on the rise of nation states and the modern idea of borders. Human history is mostly a chronicle of ethnic or cultural groups invading their neighbors. Travel restrictions were always there; nation states arose from the need for greater security. Borders were not drawn arbitrarily. They mark the edges of cultural territories. Restricting who may or may not cross those borders was and is a matter of life or death.

The open borders advocates around here have gotten me on the fence once or twice, but looking at contemporary events around the world got my feet back on the ground. I agree that freedom of movement is an inalienable right. One has freedom of movement so long as they do not trespass. If one believes in self-ownership, that every person’s mind, body, and conscience are their own property and no one else’s, then by logical extension they must accept that the fruit of one’s labor is their own property also. I decide who is welcome to set foot on my property and who is restricted from doing so. If a group of like minded people own property collectively, then they decide who may or may not set foot on it. I have no problem with the principle or practice of a nation preventing trespass so long as they do not restrict movement out of those borders or prevent one of the collective owners from re-entering.

There are other factors at play besides security, of course–the welfare state being the largest of those. Ideology is a concern of mine, as well. I am not a multiculturist. All cultures are not equal and the spectrum is quite wide. Flooding our country with people who do not accept the principle of inalienable rights or private ownership is worse than a bad idea. There are many individuals despite being from inferior cultures that would be a great credit to our country, and we should allow them in, even encourage them. Allowing just anyone based solely on their culture or ethnicity on the other hand is…unwise. A merit based system really is the only sensible policy in my mind.

I know this is one of the more contentious subjects around here, so y’all have at it. I’ll make popcorn.