As we moved from being hunters and gatherers to agriculture and later into industries, we needed to cooperate and live with each other. We needed to organize ourselves into groups and communities based on shared identity. Over time, such identity got forged in response to a variety of human needs - economic, political, religious, and social. As group identities grew stronger, they got organize into communities with their own governance structures that reflected their beliefs. Bound by geographic proximities, these communities formed states and nations. Wise leaders forged cooperation and trade with neighboring nations, others, forged wars. “Nationalism, in my opinion, is nothing more than an idealistic rationalization for militarism and aggression” - Albert Einstein
We live in a time of resurgent national chauvinism and creeping neo-fascism fueled by political leaders who incite fear and treat of the “other” for personal gain. Spread of misinformation, ignorance and superstitious religiosity has been fed to exploit mases. This has led to the rise of populous nationalistic ideologies in Trump’s America, in Brexit Britain, across much of Europe, in Modi’s India, in Erdogan’s Turkey – to name a few of the most menacing examples.
Albert Einstein called out such nationalism as “an infantile disease” and “the measles of mankind."
George Orwell called Nationalism “power hunger tempered by self-deception”
According to H.G.Wells “our true nationality is mankind.
Nationalism of one kind or another was the cause of most of the genocide of the twentieth century. Flags are bits of colored cloth that governments use first to shrink-wrap people's minds and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead. - Arundhati Roy
I agree that the love for one's country is wonderful. But why should love stop at the border?
Today, our world is an increasingly complex web of connections and interdependencies. One in which our choices and actions also have repercussions for people and communities not only locally or nationally, but also internationally. With the interconnected and interdependent nature of our world, the global is not ‘out there’; it is part of our everyday lives, as we are linked to others on every continent. Now more than ever, there is need to be a global citizen.
Global citizens are open-minded individuals who are curious about the world around them and making it a better place for ALL. It is about creating win-win relationships and certainly something that can be cultivated in people of all ages. Schools can play an important role in planting the global citizen seed at a young age, helping to create individuals who strive for environmental sustainability and the eradication of social injustices. Encouraging children to explore their own set of values, while at the same time respecting those of others, sets a solid foundation for creating long-term global citizens.
Being a global citizen is also understanding the role you play in the world and critically thinking about how your everyday actions can impact on others. From the coffee you choose to buy at the supermarket to the behavior you show to those of other races and religions, these all reflect your approach to global citizenship. It’s also understanding how policies in your own country can affect others around the world – is a policy benefiting your nation at significant expense to another? As a national citizen you can influence the policy decisions of your government, and as a global citizen, you have the obligation to do that in order to uphold the rights of your fellow global citizens.
The values being proposed for the global citizenship are not esoteric or obscure. They are the values that many of our world leaders have been advocating for the past several decades. They include human rights, religious pluralism, participatory governance, protection of the environment, poverty reduction, gender equity, social justice, sustainable worldwide economic growth, prevention and cessation of conflicts between countries, elimination of weapons of mass destruction, humanitarian assistance, and mutual understanding and respect for cultural diversity.
Look, If I come to you as an American, I will see a Mexican or Indian or chinses or German or Australian etc. in you. If I come to you as a Christian, I will see a Muslim, or a Jew, or a Buddhist or a Hindu etc… in you. But if I come to you as a human being, I will only see a fellow human being in you. We can even take it a step further and go out in the world as a Being, then the whole world becomes our friend.
Ready to be a global citizen?
Here are some values to adopt:
Comfort with ambiguity • Commitment to social justice and equity • Concern for the environment and commitment to sustainable practices • Curiosity about the world • Empathy for others • Open-mindedness • Respect for the rights of others • Sense of identity and self-awareness • Sense of responsibility for helping others • Sense of unity with individuals and causes within and outside one’s borders (solidarity )• Values diversity
Actions to take:
Acts to improve conditions through volunteerism and service • Challenges injustice • Engages in civic duties (individually and collectively) • Establishes goals for taking informed action • Evaluates the effectiveness of action to inform future action • Helps others locally and globally • Takes responsibility for actions
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