‘Global citizen’ has become a term that has taken over international organisations, activism campaigns, university campuses and festivals. In a world more interconnected than ever thanks to technological advances and travel made easy, a global identity is becoming more and more sought after. Humanity’s entrepreneurial spirit and shared love for food, the planet, and security of future generations instils our determination to become global citizens.
A global citizen
As much as the surface definition of ‘global citizen’ mirages an inference of a physical passport with visa-free access to the world, it’s much more inherent. To grasp the phrase fully, we go in-depth about what the meaning of global citizen is and how you can be one.
“Global” and “citizen” carry strong meanings on their own but their pairing engages more powerful values. In a sense, it’s an oxymoron. “Global” eludes to the ability to connect with people around the world, while “citizen” implies a sense of belonging to a nation. Together, the phrase “global citizen” embodies awareness and understanding of the world and how one fits into it.
A global citizen advocates to build our emerging world community. Such can take many forms; participating in the decision-making processes of global governance organisations; adopting and promoting changes in behaviour that help protect people and the earth’s environment; contributing to worldwide humanitarian relief efforts; and organising events that celebrate the diversity in world music, art, culture and spiritual traditions.
- Start local
Being aware of global politics plays a significant role in global citizenship, but we are also citizens of the communities and countries in which we are born and live. As important as it is to condemn international injustices, it is also essential to develop a moral compass regarding the way we want our values to shape our work and life. Before denouncing forest fires in Brazil or Australia, think about companies with which you partner and what values they support and whether they align with bringing positive change.
An example of global citizenship is Dominica’s concerns over climate change. Though a nation of only 74,000, the island declared its commitment to be the world’s first climate resilient country through investment in sustainable energy and disaster-resistant infrastructure.
- Keep an open mind
We live in a complex and divided world, which means there are always going to be differences in opinions on various subject matters. Despite this, keeping an open mind towards differences and celebrating them can help us reach peaceful resolutions. A cornerstone of global citizenship is understanding one another rather than agreeing on everything. Putting yourself in other’s shoes is key to thrive in diversity.
- Stay curious and questioning
Headlines are constantly updating, and the internet helps us know what’s happening on all ends of the planet in order to stay informed. Making efforts to learn about concerns in different parts of the world is essential to global citizenship. Increased exposure helps with maintaining an awareness of current events and creates a knowledge base for international trends.
At the same time, it is important to note that not all information needs to be taken at face value. Researching and fact-checking arguments are part of questioning norms. Ask how products are made, how labour is paid, and if the practices of that labour are ethical and sustainable before consuming.
- Partner with people with like-minded goals
Taking on the world on your own, whether that’s to learn about it or make it better, can present itself as a daunting task. Take advantage of the people and resources around you to tackle goals. Partnering with others who are also passionate about similar topics can help make sense of different perspectives and overcome obstacles more efficiently.
- Empower others
Global citizens recognize the privileges they are surrounded by and use them to empower others. The responsibility to make our communities better is not of one person alone, the more people that are on board, the better.
Genuine efforts for change also acknowledges those who have come before to pave the way, the ones who continue to make a change, and those who are affected. It is impractical to assume what communities need without directly asking them.
- Celebrate and support world art and culture
Being a global citizen is also a celebration of the many different arts and cultures of people. Take time to learn the ways in which different cultures give expression to the human spirit.
Traveling is often considered an antidote to ignorance. The more one travels, the better able they are to evade cultural stereotypes about other people and places. International mobility enables us to have an open mind, but the privilege of freedom of movement is not available to all. Barriers like nationality can restrict movement across borders. That’s why programmes like Citizenship by Investment help individuals attain second citizenship in order to ease international ventures. In a world that’s increasingly globalised, CBI can ease education, security and ensure future generations can also take advantage of global citizenship.