We see ourselves as a citizen of our home country. I am an Australian citizen. You might be a citizen of Canada or Japan or South Africa. Either way, our country is more than just a label; it is a part of our identity. We identify ourselves to others by our nationality, our shared values with others of that nationality and feel a sense of belonging in our ability to identify ourselves as such.
However, I would argue we have a duty to humanity as a whole. So let’s show you why millennials should be global citizens.
1. Seeing ourselves solely through our nationalities is not of the 21st century
We have lived in organised state systems for hundreds of years therefore seeing ourselves as belonging to a country is only natural. But isn’t it time to rethink and challenge the ideas we have always held?
Don’t get me wrong, our cultures, heritage and traditions are important and we should seek to preserve them. But I would argue that we as a generation need to create traditions to truly leave our mark on this world. By creating a more integrated, understanding and cooperative world, we could be considered one of the greatest generations in history.
2. Global problems require global solutions
The modern world faces so many problems; climate change, regional instability, poverty, hunger, water shortages among others. These problems cannot be solved at a domestic level, they require cooperation and self sacrifice.
Climate change is an issue that is becoming more and more urgent, however appropriate action has yet to meet the demands of the problem. The 2016 Paris Agreement, was commended for achieving some amount of global consensus, making America’s decision to withdraw from it so devastating. However, global consensus was the chief achievement as many experts pointed out that the agreement only facilitates ⅓ of what was necessary to truly combat the effects of climate change.
If millennials want to combat these issues better than the generations that went before them, then the time to start preparing is now. We need to change our mindset and be willing to actively work with foreign countries in a truly cooperative way, that has so far been unachievable by our predecessors.
3. A global citizen roots for the success of everyone.
Given our loyalty to our particular country, it is not surprising that we want to see it prosper and thrive. However, by localising our interest to only our immediate country means that we can become indifferent to difficulties faced by the wider world. Or worse, it means that we could see the success of another country as detrimental to our own success
It is no secret that wealth is concentrated in the global north. Economic structures ensure that wealth and goods flow out of the South and into developed countries in a cyclical fashion. This makes it almost impossible for poorer states to develop.
By thinking globally, we become better people. We think about how our own actions impact those in less developed countries and become less indifferent to their suffering.
4. It safeguards against conflict.
Over the last 100 years, humanity has become more sensitive to violence. We no longer accept continuous warfare, invasion conflict as inevitable.
The media has been a profound factor in changing this. In the 20th century, the widespread use of newspapers, television and, later, online media meant that we could now see the horrors and violence of warfare. People could now see the true devastation of warfare. In the case of Vietnam, images civilians who had been burned by napalm were so powerful that they turned public opinion against the War.
If we see ourselves as responsible to people in other countries, we lessen the chance our countries going to war. Particularly in democracies where public opinion is so instrumental in a government's decision-making process.
5. We may not be as different as we seem
In my first year of uni I took a class on multiculturalism. One of our required readings was by a man named James Rachels, and he explained the commonalities between different cultures in a way I’d never thought of before.
Generally speaking, values are the same across all races and cultures even if our beliefs take a different form. Take for example the practice in Hinduism of not eating beef. Many Hindus believe people are reincarnated into cows after their death; therefore to eat a cow would be to eat another person. This seems completely at odds with the beliefs in dominant religions in the English-speaking world. However, the underlying value of it is wrong to eat people is the same.
Though our identities as Australians, Koreans, Germans, etc. is important we should not overstate our differences. At the end of the day, we are all human and we should care for one and another based on that fact alone.
6. Cooperation enriches us all.
Cooperative cultures are mutually beneficial. There is a wealth of evidence showing how friendly countries can help one and another. Many will create free trade agreements that lower or remove tariffs, spurring growth. Not only does this provide wealth, it allows us to welcome new ideas, innovation and technology into our own countries.
The sharing of new information and ideas is fundamental to development. Even, in the earliest mesopotamian settlements, trade and information exchanges facilitated enormous growth. Instead of keeping our best secrets close to our chest, we should embrace the idea of being more open.
7. It gives us an excuse to travel!
There is no better way to show our global citizenry and learn about other cultures than travel. Whether you’re volunteering or just vacationing, there is so much to learn and see. The best way for us to care for another culture is by experiencing it first hand!
Being a global citizen benefits everyone. It allows us to educate ourselves about the world we live and teaches us to care about our fellow human beings. Let's be better than the generations that came before us! So what are you waiting for? Become a global citizen today.