It’s kind of hard to imagine these days, but this region has a pretty dark and bloody past. As I write my alternate history, I’m always thinking about how things could have been different.

But they weren’t. What happened was that waves of what were known as “Scots-Irish” were chased into America’s frontier with the express intent to violently displace the natives that lived there.

The refugees from the aftershocks of the Battle of Culloden were encouraged to take a ship to America. Once there, they were further encouraged to head west into the waiting mountains. They were heavily armed and primed for conflict; vicious fighting took place. It lasted for decades and the mentality of all against all lasts to this day.

This actually explains a lot about how Americans came to view the world as they do. The maintenance of weapons. The feeling of being threatened by outsiders. The ready resort to violence. It’s all there if you care to look, written into the blood and the history books.

My family and I, we have been touched by this as well.

I need only look at my genetic chart.

Fascinating stuff. Oddly enough one of the most likely matches is for Glasgow, and I can’t think of a single glaringly Scottish name in my background. There are a number of English ones, though. So who knows. But the thumbprint is there, an echo of a long-forgotten war.

But is it really forgotten?

I’d argue not. I read an excellent book years ago about America and the folkways it inherited from England called “Albion’s Seed.”

One of the folkways was the Scots-Irish, also known as the “Borderers.” As I read the book, I clearly recognized the traditions described in my family and region. Hundreds of years later, and millions still act as if they are huddled in threatened settlements, with reivers or other hostiles at the door. It is a mentality that is very, very hard to break. Also, the borderers and the regions they settled tend to have very high populations of combat veterans.

Guilty as charged.

Of course, genes and culture are not destiny. We can all make choices that break the mold, and what’s funny is that a further perusal of my genetic chart reveals other choices my ancestors made in an attempt at forging a better world.

I’ve also got a lot of German and NW European blood, along with a smattering of Native American (with a named ancestor, Mdewakanton Dakota (Sioux)). So ha, the borderers ended up breeding with their sworn enemies over the course of centuries.

I think there’s a delicious irony in this, and a message of hope. If we can slaughter each other and put our enemies to the sword, we can also get along and agree on the common things. In the end, we are all human, we want the same things.

A good life for our kids. A comfortable old age. A dry roof. You get what I’m saying.

Yeah, there’s violence and bad stuff.

But if the borderers, whose blood many of us carry, could move past it, then we inhabitants of the 21st century can, too. Our circumstances are so much better, we have no excuse.

Let the only war we wage be in our movies and books.

We have had enough.

2 thoughts on “Borderer

  1. Took me a while to understand the nature of the level of gun ownership and use in America. The long history of how firearms have helped shape America from the old colonial days through to the casting off of the British and then into the western expansion of territory, development of agriculture and mining. In amongst that people wanted and needed guns to protect themsleves and livestock against predators and each other.
    Modern levels of multiple casualty shootings may be unacceptable but seem to be tolerated in the U.S.perhaps as a necessary risk of the maintenace of the ‘right to bear arms’. But that’s up to Americans, not the rest of us. I still wonder if lives are valued differntly in the U.S. Dunno.


    • After a lifetime of using them, I have decidedly mixed feelings about firearms. I understand them, and I understand people’s motivation in owning them. And I also understand that some people have no business owning or operating them. In regard to the relative value of life; yes, that is not an absolute. I’ve been to places where life isn’t worth a nickel. I’ve also been to places that value life so much that they won’t fight for any reason. I shake my head at all of this. It’s hard to find a balance, a path between extremes.


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