"A place for everything, and everything in its place."
Violation of that common-sense maxim stirs confusion at best.
At worst, it stirs much worse.
And chaotic jurisdictional confusion reigns when cities are in more than one county - and many are.
Some cities even cross state borders - including Kansas City (Missouri and Kansas) and Texarkana (Texas and Arkansas).
Much closer to home, the city of Charleston lies in both Charleston and Berkeley counties. The city of North Charleston and town of Summerville each lie in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties. And while all of the town of Mount Pleasant lies within Charleston County, it was the Berkeley County seat from 1882-95.
Back to 2014: Numerous unincorporated "donut holes" still lie within tri-county municipalities, perpetuating such ludicrous spectacles as city garbage crews working one side of a street and public service district crews working the other.
Sure, our right of collective self-determination should give us considerable leeway in deciding whether to create, move into or stay out of a town, city or county.
And lots of good folks fairly prevailed after numerous court fights to have and keep a town of James Island when Charleston Mayor Joe Riley finally gave up his quest to stop them in 2012 - though Charleston has since disputed some James Island annexation attempts.
Daniel Island, however, is part of the city of Charleston, thanks to another of Riley's expansion plans - even though it's all in Berkeley County.
As Post and Courier colleague Brenda Rindge reported on our front page Thursday, some Daniel Islanders are giving up "any dreams they may have had of seceding from Berkeley" and becoming part of Charleston County. Those hopes, Rindge wrote, "became a victim of bureaucracy."
To the shores beyond
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey has an expansionist policy, too, though he generally prefers the word "vision" to the word "dream."
He's even extending North Charleston westward across the Ashley River into the Watson Hill development.
It would be much easier to scold Summey for that river-crossing move if Riley hadn't jumped the Cooper to take Daniel Island. Riley's vision also includes acquiring much more Berkeley County land across the Wando with the development of Cainhoy Plantation.
Sure, there are intriguing points and counterpoints in the ongoing debates over which towns, cities and counties should contain what land.
But relentless updates to local maps induce widespread bewilderment - especially among us aging natives.
So please, stop confusing us with the facts that back your land grabs over the rivers and through the woods.
And start remembering the lessons of history.
A century and half ago Charleston was still part of another country - the Confederate States of America.
Or was it?
Abraham Lincoln forcefully disputed that nationhood status. Our 16th president - or was he their president? - insisted that the CSA was not a country but merely a group of states in rebellion against the lawful U.S. government.
Yet we - oops, they - had a Confederate army, navy (but no air force), currency and military draft. The CSA even had flags, some of which still trigger hard feelings.
Just beware that hard feelings over which city is in which nation can produce tragic results.
For instance, seven weeks from today will be the 100th anniversary of the assassination Archduke Franz Ferdinand (heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire) and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo, Serbia. That lit the fuse for The Great War, aka The World War, which lit the fuse for World War II, which prompted the renaming of the former to World War I.
The shift of some previously German places into other nations as a result of the first war helped spark the second one, aka "The Big One," by severely riling lots of Germans, including Der Fuehrer (Great War vet Adolf Hitler), though he was born and raised in Austria.
OK, so that's confusing, too.
This, however, should be quite clear: Tragic seeds of fury often grow from turf tiffs.Keep your shirt on
At least most of us have gotten used to Germany being one country instead of two because the communists lost in 1990, Vietnam being one country instead of two because the communists won in 1975, and South and North Korea still being two countries because no one really won in 1953.
Now in 2014, we have to get used to Crimea being part of Russia again.
So where will Vladimir Putin reach next while trying to make his dream come true?
Or is it a vision?
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.