Major Citizens of the World and Their Teachings

Though the concept of Citizenship by Investment was first conceived in 1984 in the Caribbean, the notion of global citizenship floated among some of the world’s most influential and intellectual folks long before. Those who left their marks in politics, human rights, academia and entrepreneurship all embodied a character that exceeded borders. Here are some things some these global icons had to say about being a citizen of the world.

Greek philosopher (c. 470-399 BC)

I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.

Francis Bacon
English statesman and philosopher (1561-1626)

If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them.

French philosopher (1689-1755)

If I knew of something that could serve my nation but would ruin another, I would not propose it to my prince, for I am first a man and only then a Frenchman… because I am necessarily a man, and only accidentally am I French.

Thomas Paine
United States Founding Father (1737-1809)

Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.

William Lloyd Garrison
American abolitionist (1805-1879)

Our country is the world, our countrymen are all mankind.

Iranian Founder of the Bahá’í Faith (1817-1892)

It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.

Mark Twain
American writer (1835-1910)

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.

Eugene B. Debs
American politician (1855-1926)

I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth; I am a citizen of the world.

Woodrow Wilson
President of the United States (1856-1924)

We are citizens of the world. The tragedy is that we do not know this.

Pablo Casals
Spanish cellist (1876-1973)

The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border? There is a brotherhood among all men. This must be recognized if life is to remain. We must learn the love of man.

Virginia Wolf
English writer (1882-1941)

[A]s a woman, I have no country. As a woman, I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world.

Paramashansa Yogananda
Indian guru and yogi (1893-1952)

‘World’ is a large term, but man must enlarge his allegiance, considering himself in the light of a world citizen. […] A person who truly feels: ‘The world is my homeland; it is my America, my India, my Philippines, my England, my Africa,’ will never lack scope for a useful and happy life. His natural local pride will know limitless expansion; he will be in touch with creative universal currents.

Joseph Rotblat
Polish physicist (1908-2005)

We need to convey the message that safeguarding our common property, humankind, will require developing in each of us a new loyalty: a loyalty to mankind. It calls for the nurturing of a feeling of belonging to the human race. We have to become world citizens.

Norman Cousins
American political advocate, journalist, and writer (1915-1990)

The present mode of life on earth is madness, which is nonetheless lethal for being legal. Rational existence is possible, but it calls for a world consciousness and a world design. People who develop the habit of thinking of themselves as world citizens are fulfilling the first requirement of sanity in our time.

Maya Angelou
American poet and activist (1928-2014)

During bad circumstances, which is the human inheritance, you must decide not to be reduced. You have your humanity, and you must not allow anything to reduce that. We are obliged to know we are global citizens. Disasters remind us we are world citizens, whether we like it or not.

Yuan T. Lee
Taiwanese chemist and Nobel Prize winner (1936-)

We need to become good citizens in the global village instead of competing. What are we competing for – to drive more cars, eat more steaks? That will destroy the world.

Ban Ki-Moon
South Korean diplomat and Secretary-General of the United Nations (1944-)

You have to take ownership and leadership of tomorrow. For that to be possible, you have to strengthen your capacity and widen your vision as a global citizen.

Thomas Friedman
American journalist, author, and Pulitzer Prize winner (1953-)

[T]he first thing we have to do is be the best global citizens we can be.

Mark Zuckerberg
American entrepreneur and founder of Facebook (1984-)

In a survey asking millennials around the world what defines our identity, the most popular answer wasn’t nationality, religion or ethnicity, it was “citizen of the world.” That’s a big deal.

Asaad Al Mohammad
Syrian author (1985-)

For I’m neither a submitter nor a hating retaliator, I acknowledge the boundaries of my existence; yet, I still care. I care regardless of the way they choose to reduce me to the brand that is the birthmark of the accident of my conception. I care less about what that brand signifies in terms of my character, potential, and intentions. For the harmed I care. For the real victims. It’s the most basic of my mandatory civil duties. Only in caring, am I a citizen of the world.