Whether it’s the food we eat, the technology we use, the
knowledge we pass on, or entertainment we consume, we are constantly taking
advantage of the benefits of our interconnected world. However, as we continue to enjoy, we must
remain mindful that as citizens of the world, we have a responsibility to act
in ways that take into consideration the whole picture. I will explore this cosmopolitan viewpoint to
understand how I can become a more global citizen.
Walk down virtually any street in the world, and you’ll see
things that wouldn’t be possible without the effects of Globalisation. We live in a vast, culturally diverse world
facing numerous challenges. As we become
increasingly connected with our broader world through the goods, services, and
information we consume, we transcend our immediate environment.
The growing interdependence and interconnectedness of nation
states, peoples, economies, and cultures, as well as the public awareness of
that process are all indicators of an increasingly globalised world (Anderson,
2017). According to IMF Staff (2000), “The
four main tenants of globalisation include trade and transactions, capital and
investment movements, migration and the movement of people, and the
dissemination of knowledge”.
This suggests, “we can no longer understand our actions
without taking into account the broader, even planetary implications of these
actions and concomitant risks” (Skrbiš, 2014, p.6). Understanding the positive and negative effects
of globalisation help us to discover a new way to understand the world we live,
and our impact upon it.
Before human-kind started exploring space, humanities
perspective and understanding of Earth was limited. Since reaching that sky-high vantage point – gained
by staring back at our blue Earth from the fringes of our atmosphere – many astronauts
experience an attitude-changing overview effect they’ve termed ‘spaceship
earth’ (Park, 2001). This is the
realisation that all human beings belong to a single community, and we have
limited resources with which to use.
The concept of cosmopolitanism mirrors this sentiment – it
does not signal a requirement to detach oneself from one’s own national
identity or loyalties – it indicates a commitment to the universal value of
human life as each life matters, a respect for the particularity of individuals
and groups, and to taking civic action to protect them at local, national, and
global levels (Brookes, 2006).
There is a common slogan used throughout the Northern Rivers,
which says; ‘think global, act local’.
This helps us recognise that by thinking about our connection to the
whole Earth, we are not sacrificing our capacity to care for people or our
closer communities, in fact it strengthens this. Thus, “we need to responsibly balance between
our obligations towards those who are near and those who are far (Skrbiš, 2014,
Nor do we need to renounce the sense of identity we feel through
our national allegiance, by expanding our identity to include the human
community, we see that cosmopolitanism is the broadest basis of social identity
we can reach. With this inflated
identity, Cosmopolitans may possess the social skills and attitudes that enable
them to move amongst people of different cultures with confidence and purpose (Pitty,
Stokes & Smith, 2008).
Am I a global citizen?
The concepts of global citizenship and cosmopolitanism are
historically closely intertwined.
Through education, philosophy, interconnectedness, and world-mindedness,
we can become aware of the suffering of others, and go beyond simply noting it,
to act to improve the situation for all.
By living in a place such as Byron Bay, I am constantly interacting
with people from many parts of the world.
These people come to this region for its beauty, but also to learn about
the way of the life of the people here, and the values they hold. I am constantly reminded of the connection we
have to our environment, other cultures, and our planet.
It is said that a citizen of the world can make the world
better by making some local place better.” (Skrbiš, 2014).
As someone who’s studying to become a teacher, and as a
business owner who is conscious about sustainability, I believe I am a global
citizen. That said, there is always much
more that can be done.
For education to have a cosmopolitan orientation, Nussbaum
(2010) believes students must be taught to recognise similarity and difference,
to appreciate the increasing inter-dependencies brought about by greater global
interconnectivity, to acknowledge they have a moral obligation to both national
and international communities, and to think beyond the confines of their own
national boundaries and learn to engage in the culture of dialogue.
Through my teaching practice I will
present old problems in a new light, this way I can help to shift the way in
which people perceive their country’s relations with the wider world.
Being a global citizen, or a cosmopolitan, is not about
voicing your beliefs, it is about action.
Through the avenues of teaching, education, and sustainable business
practices, I will continually develop my ability – I’ll think global, but I
will act in good conscious, locally.