The first time I heard the word “Global citizenship” clearly was on 2010 when a couple of friends from the MeltonFoundation and I, did a project on education, but It wasn’t until the end of 2011 when I was formally introduced to the concept. However, the explanations given always left me curious for exploring the meaning deeper so I found myself reading about the people who first said the word like Diogenes of Sinope, Socrates or Montesquieu and it became clearer that the task of understanding a simple compound word like GLOBAL-CITIZENSHIP, meant something much more profound, like simple things usually tend to signify.
The easiest definition of “citizen” says – a person that lives in a particular place. That’s it. That person probably also identifies with the place or is unconsciously influenced by it, affected, committed to it, etc. In GLOBAL citizenship we are talking that this place is defined by the word “global” which involves the entire world. Not Lunar citizens or Mars citizens but earthians. 🙂
So with this simple definition in mind I began to talk about it more openly. The hypothesis was that if we are talking about a concept that involves the globe and all its inhabitants, every person must innately have an understanding of it.
I specially remember conversations with my grandmother where we brainstormed in which aspects of life we could be global citizens. This exercise was eye opening because even though she could never move herself freely due to a hip problem she had since she was a child, we still noticed that she was a model citizen. She was COMMITTED and INFLUENCED by the place she lived in in such magnitude, that this motivated her (due to fear or conviction) to respect the rules of the country she was in, care for her neighbors and educate new generations of committed citizens… I mean, what more can you ask for…right?…
Well right here is where the word GLOBALcitizenship , brought a new dimension to our conversation because we realize that the attachment that its required for us to be active in (committed, affected by) our families (communities, countries, etc) should also be shared with other humans that may not belong to our close circles. Not even belong to the place we live in.
So if my grandmother tells me that we should steal something from someone she hates, I should choose not to do it, even though she is my grandmother. Why? because I consider the whole situation, the repercussions and because I am not thinking that WE are the “good ones” or “right ones” just because “we are we”, but we have the understanding that other realities are happening at the same time, realities that feel very similar as we do.That consider stealing as an invasion of one’s privacy, as not a good thing.
It’s pretty safe to say that violence, abuse, genocide, rape, war, murders, attacks, etc are not things that are desirable in our human experience and that they somehow begin with the thought of others as “others”. As foreign, as different, when actually… WE ALL LIVE IN THE SAME PLACE. We are citizens of the same planet.
but…doesn’t this go against cultural diversity? Does global citizenship makes us homogeneous and ultimately bland?…
Hmm this can lead to a much longer post but when global citizenship makes us aware of our shared humanity (shared emotions, instincts, needs) it just…makes…sense. It has been a joy to see that “sense” clearly in the art workshops I’ve shared with children in Chile, in India, Germany, a sense that is common to kids all over. To recognize that we are playing a song in the same time signature but with different melodic lines and timbre. Culture has the potential to add richness to the tune if we decide to play together, we just need to listen.
Coming back to the earlier story, my grandmother and I remembered how she and my grandfather used to regularly visit mapuche communities to talk (support christian missionary efforts) and we (their grandchildren) would go with them some of those times. They may or may not have done this with assistentialist intentions (judging on the amount of cherries, potatoes and plums that we got home with, I always felt they were assisting us),but anyways, in these visits, the concept of global citizenship was floating around. It was being developed. My grandparents might have been driven by the thought that “the mapuche needed assistance” “they needed help or to be saved”, etc.but the repeated interactions with them provoked respect, admiration and…silence. Yes, silence. When your views are profoundly being confronted you tend to remain silent until you know for sure what to believe, what the conclusions of your research are and even then, it might not be required to actually talk. It tends to provoke actions. It tends to.
A global citizen has those characteristics. That curiosity that goes way beyond social norms or fashions but follows more organic and vital rules. I strongly believe that truth will follow the one that wants to find it, one that is not afraid or ashamed to make it come to life in its life.
For my grandmother (and me), to put a name to this new dimension of understanding citizenship brought a breath of fresh air and a smile. It made us acknowledge how beautiful it was to be there and it made me feel like we were in the exact place I needed to be, right there drinking mate at the sunset. That was all that was demanded from us as global citizens at that moment. It made me support once again some of the feelings I had when I was a little girl: the ability to awe at things, the new curiosity that everyday brought, the empathy for the girl that was crying, the need to feel safe, to play in nature and create my own games, to ask for forgiveness the same day that I did something wrong, to be lost in joy. It made me be attentive of those feelings because they may still contain a truth I haven’t been able to decipher fully. The kind of truth that’s THE missing element in our modern reality.
My “hands-on/mind-on” approach to learning keeps being a source of daily motivation for discovering how the global -citizenship of a person is shaped in the raw.
The intention of sharing is the first step to new discoveries, we just need to keep finding good tools to sculpt our understanding of the concept; adding more varnish to it or cleaning the dust of unnecessary elements, because, let’s face it, as part of this ever changing globe we would be naive to think we will ever get an exact definition that encapsulates, solely with words, what our citizenship in planet Earth truly means.