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Migrants seek new routes into Balkans after formal borders sealed

A refugee hugs a boy next to a border fence at a makeshift camp for migrants and refugees at the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni
By Fedja Grulovic IDOMENI, Greece (Reuters) - After weeks stranded at a closed border in northern Greece, migrants and refugees are seeking out new, irregular routes to get into Macedonia, clambering through forests and over hills under the cover of darkness. As dusk fell on Saturday evening, a Reuters witness saw a group of up to 70 people crossing into Macedonia from Greece, at a point where there is no razor wire fence between the two countries. It was roughly a 20 km (12 mile), or four hour walk from Idomeni, a sprawling tent city hosting thousands of refugees and migrants stranded by a cascade of border shutdowns throughout the Balkans in February.

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file under: common sense 30 Aug 2007 4:40 PM
The Little Cavegirl Posted by Nissim Dahan

Picture in your mind a nine year old prehistoric girl, gathering nuts and berries with her mother near the mouth of their cave. Whenever she gets the chance, the little cavegirl likes to bring the spears, which are stored inside the cave, to the male hunters. As she gathers food with her mother, she notices two males approaching from one direction, and two others approaching from the other. The males need their spears to go out and hunt. The little girl aims to please. She quickly takes leave of her mother and runs to the cave to grab hold of the spears.


Now, here's an important question. As you recall, she saw two hunters approaching from one direction, and two others approaching from the other. Would the little cavegirl know to bring back four spears? Remember, it's not like she ever studied math. We're talking prehistoric cavemen here. Would she realize intuitively that two plus two equals four?


None of us can know for sure, but my guess would be that the little girl would know to grab four spears. And her mother would also know to gather up enough nuts and berries to feed the entire clan. What we think of as simple mathematics today, would probably have been a matter of common sense back then.


As it turns out, cavemen were quite adept at using common sense. It helped them survive for some two million years. Our species has only been "civilized" (if you can call it that) for the last 10,000 years. But for the previous two million years we had nothing but brute strength and common sense to get us through yet another day.


You may think that the violence we see swirling about us today dates back to the brutishness of the caveman. You'd be wrong. It turns out, as depicted in a recent documentary on the Discovery Channel called The Rise of Man, that cavemen were actually quite gentle with one another. They took care of their sick, and watched out for each other. As hunter/gatherers there was no real reason to kill. Would you kill your neighbor just to steal a couple of peanuts? Why bother?


So why dwell on cavemen, you may well ask? To sell a Vision of Hope we will need a new way of thinking and a new way of speaking to one another-a new framework for rational discourse. In effect, we will need nothing short of a new ideology, a new system of belief. If we succeed, we will come to believe in what makes sense. But perhaps this "New Ideology of Common Sense" is not new at all? Perhaps An Ideology of Common Sense has its roots deeply embedded in ancient history, in the history of our prehistoric ancestors? Think about it. Common sense kept us going as a species for some two million years. True, it wasn't much of a life-short and brutish in nature. But it was a life, nonetheless.


As you think back to the lives of prehistoric men, women, and children, and as you consider how they were able to keep us going as a species, ask yourself this: How confident are you that we can survive another two hundred years, let alone two million years? Perhaps the key will be to retrace our steps, and to reconfigure our future, in accordance with the time-tested truths and values that sustained our very existence as the years passed? Perhaps the truth of the caveman is the same truth that stares us in the face today?

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