• Robin Horsfall

Lines of engagement

Lines of Engagement.

Lines are drawn on maps, lines are one dimensional, they have no width or depth only length but lines have great power. This is very strange for a one dimensional idea that cannot be seen except when it is drawn on a topographical representation of the Earth on a piece of paper.

Although invisible in the real world, lines are extraordinarily expensive to maintain. Walls and fences are built along them, they are sometimes defended with weapons and soldiers. Lines are given special names that often start with ‘The’ The Berlin wall, the iron curtain, the border, the barrier or the front.

These lines separate people from one another, I would say peoples but that would indicate that there is actually more than one type of people and strange as it might seem before lines came into the story it was difficult to label anyone except by their relationship to a family.

Lines, create more lines, lines of people waiting to cross a line, lines of vehicles paying taxes to cross the line, lines of communications to show who has crossed a line and to make sure that they are crossed back in the opposite direction.

Lines create nations, another idea, another imaginary concept, One can no more pick up a nation than one can pick up a line.

People love lines, lines make them feel special and different. If a person lives on the west side of a line they use a line to raise a flag that indicate which side of the line they are from. The line is a symbol of their specialness. No one gets over the special lines without special lines drawn on another piece of paper. These lines give permission to cross the lines. Stern faced people read the lines and between the lines and stare at people who want to cross their lines. If the lines are acceptable then the people in the line are allowed to cross the line into the special place behind the lines. Whew!

When powerful leaders get upset they are said to ‘draw a line’ sometimes they colour them and call them ‘red lines’. Once again it is difficult to comprehend a one dimensional idea that has a colour but hey-ho push on. Fighter’s ‘toe the line’ soldiers ‘line up’, shoppers form a line, some even ‘jump or bump the line’ which can cause great anxiety among those who are ‘part of the line’. Jumping or bumping a line can cause a violent reaction from those in the line. This violence disrupts the line and causes the line to be redrawn.

Sometimes people love their lines so much they refuse to let anyone cross the line. Wars are fought over lines and line crossers get killed or imprisoned. Lines of agreement are drawn up to draw a line under a conflict. I mean come on! How does someone draw under a conflict? If you think about it too much it will give you lines.

I don’t like lines I’d be line if I said otherwise. (sic)

© Robin Horsfall 2017

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