On World Citizenship
NEWS JUNKIE POSTJun 24, 2011 at 8:16 am
By Min Reyes
Having Witnessed the ongoing, profane, and blatant attack on democracy, I had to find hope. I could not allow our “elected” government to abuse an authority they claim to have which, in reality, belongs to each of us.
I think now is the time to either build democracy (assuming that it was never completely present to start with) or rename our government for what it is: a fascist dictatorship. We need to be honest with ourselves and deal with reality.
Some argue that this is still democracy; the electoral results prove this. Well, to those I will simply say; “Uh-uh, if you think democracy is merely voting, you need to pick up a philosophy book, and quickly. Voting once every 4 years alone is nothing more than a dangerous illusion that has proven itself to be just that, a dangerous illusion. If democracy were that simple, and that easy, those who believe in our elected ‘leaders’ as legitimate political representatives should be able to answer for the lack of democracy around the world.”
Last night, I could not sleep. I was frustrated and angry. I have been feeling a sense of restlessness that consumes me. There must be an answer to this madness. There must be something that could unite us against the tyranny of government.
Then I came across this concept; I don’t necessarily think it is the answer I am looking for, but ,I think it will aid us in examining where we are. We are divided, but not by choice. Those in power (the power we endowed them with) are consciously breaking us apart with rhetoric of hatred and differences. I think it is now time to focus on what brings us together.
What is World Citizenship?
It is oxymoronic: the world-encompassing, dynamic, organic, everything-entity opposed to a civil concept of rights and duties within the bounds of nationality.
But, think about it. Think beyond the imaginary boundaries of geography, ethnicity, or even religion. We can move beyond the conceptual enclosures that divide us as a species.
Before the industrial age and the electronic revolution, the identity and functioning boundary of social units was largely determined by the nation-state level and the mechanical barriers of geography. The workings of government and the writings of history were from non-global perspectives. Loyalty to the feudal prince, or later to the sovereign king, was direct, one-dimensional, and absolute. Society was aural, its extent determined by the human voice. The development of the printing press and, in 1844, electronic informational transfer, established lines of communication from one relatively isolated social unit to another. A person’s thoughts now could be known instantly from a distance. One did not have to know him or her personally. Indirect political representation was born. Inevitably the notion that the governed should have a voice in government became increasingly popular. Democracy, kindled in the context of rising expectations, inflamed revolution after revolution from east to west, north to south.
Yet, here was born a tragic paradox: for the essence of democracy is universal participatory decision-making, whereas the essence of national sovereignty, a hold-over from feudalism and the absolute sovereignty of kings, is exclusivity and the non-participation of citizens outside the national boundary. Citizens “belonged” to the nation only, while all humans outside that nation were “foreigners,” or worse, “aliens.”
This tragic contradiction begins to be socially instilled almost at birth. One is not born a human, or politically, a world citizen, but French, English, American, Russian, Canadian, Chinese, or Iranian. One could add that all labels at birth–black, white, Arab, Jew, Catholic, etc.–are essentially false, contrasted with the reality of the human emerging from a human womb into the world of humans.
Personal qualities are simplistically attached to national (and other) labels rendering violence and aggression easy to justify by their leaders. We are ‘good,’ ‘noble,’ ‘best,’ ‘exceptional,’ etc. because we are ‘British,” ‘Canadian,”American,’ or ‘Russian.’ Others are ipso facto ‘bad,’ ‘ignoble,’ and ‘inferior.’ Unlike ‘us’, ‘they’ are threats to be feared, even killed… or allowed to die in the streets, starving.
Those who identified directly with the world of humans were considered starry-eyed idealists, Utopians, sentimental humanitarians, impractical moralists, or simply crackpots. The only empirical world “citizens” were the pirates sailing freely on the open seas. They were followed by the multinational corporations, new, exploitative world citizens, pirates of the industrial world. The world that emerged the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and the ‘political powers-that-be’ of the time, forced humanity into a framework based on unreality, the fiction of nationalism in which we are still trapped.
The world is organized with the politics of division, engineered and enforced by the few. Yet humanity , despite this repression, always seeks to transcend these obstacles. This shift in perspective has allowed us to empathize with those around the world; victims of disasters, natural or otherwise. We connect with those who suffer, because they are human, and we are human. We feel their fear, we feel their pain, and we experience their perseverance. We know that there is more than politics of difference and division. We know what it feel like to rise above them and create a human connection.
World citizenship is the connection outside the limited conceptual discourse that we have been socialized with. A global citizen is thus defined as a citizen “whose rights transcend national boundaries” as codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
We are so much more more than merely tax-paying Citizens. As human beings, we can, together, rise above the tyrannical rhetoric that divides us not only from those our state considers evil and dangerous, but also the rhetoric of political partisan games.
Those in government are proactively undermining our authority over them. We need to find a higher ground where, as human beings, you and I can work in collaboration to bring justice, democracy, and compassion back into our lives. It is time to stop hating and attacking each other, and using the very same tools that politicians have gifted us with to destroy ourselves.
Editor’s Note: Min Reyes is a journalist and student of historical materialism and dialectics. Presently, Min is fully committed to the global movement of human dignity against neoliberalism. In addition to being a News Junkie Post contributor, Min can be found at her own blog, MinReyes.ca, and you can connect with her on Twitter @Min_Reyes
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