For decades, many U.S. citizens have felt disconnected from their government. As if their votes don’t matter. As if nobody is listening to them. As though whatever they do has no effect on national policy.
What would it be like if your actions did make an impact? What if you could cause drastic change in the country, even the world?
One farmer in Erquelinnes, Belgium, knows how that feels.
He moved a 330-pound stone and changed the border of his country.
The stone was in the path of the farmer’s tractor, so he moved it, not knowing the stone had been placed there 200 years ago to mark the border between Belgium and France established under the 1820 Treaty of Kortrijk. He didn’t return it to its original position, making his town 7 1/2 feet larger.
Don’t you wonder if he felt a little proud of himself, changing the border of his country just by moving a stone? Moving that stone was no small feat. It was a 330-pound stone. Maybe he was able to use his tractor somehow to move it, but if I could move such a heavy rock, I would be proud of that. Changing your country’s borders, while not always requiring heavy lifting, does require some kind of exceptional powers.
Of course, once the farmer was made aware of what he did, he put the stone back in its proper position with no legal consequences.
His change didn’t last very long. And it wasn’t really a change; it was an accident.
It also wasn’t really a change because moving a rock doesn’t truly change a border. The rock was just a marker. The border was a constant and it would take more than a rock, acting as a marker, to be moved to change the shape and acreage of a country.
To change the border of the country, one country invades another country and takes it as its own. You rarely hear of that kind of brutal operation nowadays, so the other way is through a pile of legal documents, red tape and other stuff we don’t like to think about.
But it happens.
The most recent border shift was in 2016. Belgium and the Netherlands swapped land near Lanaye and Oost-Maarland over the discovery of a headless body several years prior, which the Belgian authorities could not access without crossing Dutch territory. The border has been straightened out and now runs down the centre of the Meuse River. That odd reason for a border change made the border more sensical.
Of course, sensical borders are optional. As a West Virginian, I realize there are more important things to worry about than having smoothly surveyed borders. Plus, we can boast two panhandles.
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