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Global Citizen – Is It Something To Aspire To?

If you want Global Citizen status, you can’t, it is not issued by any global organization. it’s an ideal to aspire to. Thanks to advancements in communications and transportation, you have more opportunities to aspire to be a Global Citizen than in the past. This article explains to you Global Citizen’s origins, citizenship responsibilities, and the challenges that some non-democratic nationals have with aspiring to be Global Citizens.

What is a Global Citizen – a Call To Action.

The use of Global Citizen is more of an ideal and a call for action than a term that has a common definition. The basic definition for Global Citizen “… is the idea that all people have civic responsibilities to the world as a whole, rather than just their local communities or countries. So, by expanding one’s personal horizons through global learning, you are able to effect change in a more meaningful sense on both a small and larger scale.”

What is a Global Citizen – Background and History.

The ideal of Global Citizen has been around for a while, but it has become more relevant in recent years with the advent of technologies that have brought our world closer.

  • First Recorded – 412 B.C. Diogenes of Sinope declared “I am a citizen of the world”.
  • U.S. Declaration of Independence – 1776. Thomas Jefferson wrote “… all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”.
  • Modern Technologies – Twenty First Century. Information, communications, and transportation technologies have enabled us to connect easily to everyone on the planet. We can now connect and it is possible for us to have a global identity. In the past, people could only connect and identify with people in their village, city, and at best nation.

See Wikipedia for more on the background of Global Citizenship. 

What Are the Civic Responsibilities of a Global Citizen?

Global Citizen - Citizen Global
Citizen Global

A Global Citizen is not affiliated with a global government and global organization. As the term “Global Citizen” is an ideal, it’s civic responsibilities are open to debate. Below are some examples of the ideals that a Global Citizen could follow:

  • Be Informed. Need to keep informed on the global environment, human rights across the world, income and resource inequalities, and global immigration policies.
  • Be Responsible. Take responsibility on global issues that cannot be solved by individual nation-states.
  • Be Open Minded. Be tolerant of different perspectives and different cultures. Work to build common ground solutions.
  • Be An Advocate. Help to educate others and advocate that countries seek, participate and comply with global agreements and solutions.
  • Act Globally. Have a lifestyle and values that respects the world’s cultural diversity and builds a sustainable planet.

See The Global Citizens initiative’s What it Means to be a Global Citizen for more information.

Challenges to Being a Global Citizen.

If you live in a democratic, prosperous country, it is possible to reach for the ideals of a Global Citizen. For others there are significant challenges. With the advent of the COVID-19 crisis, it highlighted the significance of mobility in our knowledge economy. The crisis underlined the gap between the ideal state of being a global citizen and its reality. Global Citizen challenges include:

  • Passport Restrictions. If you are from the U.S. or Europe, your passport makes it easier for you to secure a visa for travel, employment, and education. For many, passport restrictions can be severe.
  • Lacking the Necessities of Life. Many people and regions of the world are totally focused on survival to get access to food, water, shelter, and healthcare
  • Lacking Basic Freedoms. Many people and regions of the world either live under repressive regimes or their lives are disrupted by conflicts and natural disasters. They lack peace, stability, human rights, access to education, future-relevant skills, access to information, and economic opportunities.
  • Associated with Anti-Nationalism. Global citizen when taken literally, and not as an ideal, can be associated with anti-nationalism which can be divisive.

See NAFSA’s Global Citizenship Through a Global Lens for more information of the challenges of being a Global Citizen.

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