Many Americans in the United States this week celebrated Independence Day on July 4th with fireworks, parades, picnics, and flags ….. plenty of American flags. That whole nationalistic patriotism has never really appealed to me, even as a child, but it strikes me today as another symbolic dinosaur.
“Dinosaurs” are those ideas, people, actions, anything that might have been appropriate and even necessary at some point in our evolution, but are no longer relevant (even counter-productive and destructive today) and will soon be extinct.
Our interconnected world requires a new definition of patriotism. Our brains and spirits need to evolve to meet the new realities of global interdependence. We need global citizens. Thank you Cheryl Duckworth for describing this idea so well on the Peace X Peace blog.
A global citizen is cross-culturally competent. She has developed an awareness of her own cultural blind spots and biases and can apply this to avoiding (or at least resolving) misunderstandings that often occur in intercultural contexts. A global citizen would be aware of the inherent social violence seen in video games in which players shoot at Mosques and minarets in Austria, and would feel a responsibility to speak up.
A global citizen understands, I would argue, the rapid and increasingly interdependent reality of the 21st century. Flowing from this, he understands that the most pressing challenges humanity faces today (environmental destruction, global terror, authoritarianism, poverty, the Great Recession) are inherently cross-border challenges. They simply cannot be solved by one country alone.
What does it mean to be an American and a global citizen at the same time? Or an Israeli and a global citizen? Or a Palestinian ….. you catch my drift.
My thoughts to this question are still evolving, but I know this much.
Some global citizens have a greater duty or responsibility to attempt to heal the global troubles because (1) they come from a nation with greater opportunities and resources to address the challenges; and (2) they come from a nation that has contributed much more to causing the global woes than many other nations.
I didn’t find many Americans this 4th of July thinking about their responsibilities as global citizens. Perhaps that is why this holiday gives me pause.