July 2015 Bar Bulletin
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July 2015 Bar Bulletin

Why Do People Go Ape To Protect Boundary Lines?

By Robert WM Zierman


People don't just spend unreasonable amounts of money to protect their boundaries. They spend amounts that are insane. Why?

I believe it quite literally comes down to the fact that people turn off their ability to rationally think about things using the more advanced pre-frontal cortex and instead devolve to the murky swamp of primitive emotions that still reside within us at the limbic system.

Rationality and emotionality both have roles in our lives. The limbic system is located at the top of the brain stem and there it provides the fight, flight, freeze or fawn responses that animals use to protect themselves from danger.

Though it must be so far back in the recesses of time as to be difficult to pinpoint, there must have been the recognition that not just getting through the night was important, but that there would be another night after that that would require shelter as well. This must have been an important leap of needs recognition.

Soon, tools were designed. Not wholly as an aside, with the creation of tools the allowance of gathering surplus would have been created. This surplus would in turn need developed methods of protection.

Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece, "2001: A Space Odyssey," depicts this as happening as a result of some sort of lesson on high presented by a monolith that spurred along the idea that man's predecessor should use tools. In short order, not only would this advance move man's predecessors to the top of the food chain vis-à-vis other animals, it would also do so over those not sufficiently deft to get the point.

Specifically, the film depicts those apes, which had originally been driven off from the watering hole, returning armed with dried bones to retake what had been theirs. Notably, the leader of the "tribe" now being put out gets his head smashed in … perhaps even beyond death.

Mentally there is a boundary between protection and aggression. This might explain to some extent the freeze and fawn responses. But what occurs in those instances where animals are trapped? We all have a fairly good sense of what happens when an animal is backed into a corner. Without an escape, the animal's options are to fight or get killed.

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