Assignment 2: What is a Global Citizen?

Citizen: A person owing loyalty to and entitled by birth or naturalization to the protection of a state or nation.

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Usually when we think about the term “citizen,” we attach it to a particular nation.  What if we instead thought about ourselves as citizens of the world?  Many people have taken to calling such a person a “global citizen.”  In my opinion, global citizenship is the idea of not separating ourselves from one another based on invisible boundaries, but recognizing that we are all one.  Part of the definition of citizenship states that a citizen should be loyal to their fellow citizens within the nation.  If someone is a global citizen, then they should be concerned for all the people of the world.  We have the responsibility to act on the behalf of our fellow citizens.  The other part of the definition of citizenship is that a citizen is entitled to the protection offered by their nation.  Global citizens recognize themselves as part of the entire world; therefore, as part of the world, they are responsible for the protection of its citizens.

The ideal global citizen would not be self-centered, but rather concerned with the well being of all.  They would also be aware of the global problems that need attention and know how to effectively help in those situations.  Global citizenship is equal parts awareness and action.  To simply be aware of the issues without acting is poor citizenship, and, vice versa, to blindly go and do without knowing the situation and how to handle it is equally as bad.

I do not believe that there is tension between national citizenship and global citizenship.  To be a global citizen, one must be concerned for all people, and that includes the people within their own country.  In this global age, everything across the world is much more connected and easily accessible.  Nations are becoming more reliant on each other, and our relationships are becoming more intertwined.  In his commencement address at Howard University this year, Bill Clinton said, “You can’t live in a world that is interdependent where the walls come down and borders look more like nets.  You can’t keep every bad thing out anywhere unless most people believe that what we have in common is more important that our interesting differences.”  We must be conscientious about not letting ourselves become a gated community within our borders, because as much as this keeps the “bad” out, it fences us in.  This fence destroys our status as a global citizen- we must acknowledge and experience things foreign to us, our “interesting differences” as Pres. Clinton put it.  Only when we experience this can we begin to know the world and thus call ourselves global citizens.

I thought that the video PSA brought up several interesting points.  One in particular that I liked was that “what we do in one place affects someone on the other side of the world.”  This can be both positive and negative.  Buying Nike supports their use of sweatshops in Asia, where reports claim that factory workers are physically and mentally abused on a regular basis.  By buying Nike shoes in Wichita, KS, I am financially supporting that kind of abuse halfway across the world.  But the road does go both ways.  What we do in America can help those struggling around the world.  With global transportation and many organizations set up for humanitarian aid, it’s easier than ever to get firsthand experience helping those on the other side of the world.  Doing what good we can with what we have is our responsibility and duty as global citizens.

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Remember the paper chain people crafts that we made in preschool?  What if this was how the world worked?  This is what global citizens strive for- people of all different colors seen as equals, collaborating together for the good of all humanity.  I do not think that I am the ideal global citizen- on a scale from 0-10, I’m maybe a 7.  I have a great passion for doing the most good that I can, but I still have much to learn about the complex world that we live in.  I am doing the best that I can, and I all I ask is that everyone else do the same.  Let’s all start doing our part to become global citizens.


Works Cited

Adams, Becket. “Just Do It- Or Else: Nike Accused of Sweatshop Abuses.” The Blaze. N.p., 13 July 2011. Web. 05 June 2013. <–-or-else-nike-accused-of-sweatshop-abuses/>.

Cadet, Danielle. “Bill Clinton Howard University Commencement Speech: Former President Encourages ‘Open Hands’ Over ‘Closed Fists'” The Huffington Post., 12 May 2013. Web. 05 June 2013. <>.

“Citizen.” N.p., n.d.  Web.  04 June 2013.  <>.

Cornelius, Kayla. “What Does Healing Feel Like?” Worldrace. N.p., 18 Oct. 2010. Web. 05 June 2013. <>.

“Humanity + Love.” Cool Chaser. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 June 2013. < love>.

“Nike Workers ‘kicked, Slapped and Verbally Abused’ at Factories Making Converse.” Mail Online. Daily Mail, 13 July 2011. Web. 05 June 2013. <>.

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  1. Posted June 9, 2013 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    If I could challenge the notion that boundaries between peoples and nations are arbitrary and without meaning, I’d say that the idea is hopelessly naive.
    National boundaries, along with racial and religious ones, are the product of thousands of years of human interaction. They are the result of countless blood spilled and ink etched onto parchment, of innumerable souls who have lived and breathed their identities for generations.
    These boundaries are organic, they are evolved, and though they are subject to changed, the levity with which some seem to want to push them under the bus is frightening. The destruction of these identities is what is required for the concept of a world without boundaries.
    G.K. Chesterton had a wonderful phrase: “don’t tear down a fence unless you know why it was put up.”

  2. Posted June 8, 2013 at 4:54 am | Permalink

    You wisely point out that, “to blindly go and do without knowing the situation and how to handle it is equally as bad.” Excellent point that has been made by others:

    In the book Saviors and Survivors, Mahmood Mamdani provides a deep background behind the largely US based “Save Darfur” movement and foreshadows the Kony2012 controversy. From his introduction: “In contrast to those who suggest that we act as soon as the whistle blows, I suggest that, even before the whistle blows, we ceaselessly try to know the world in which we live — and act. Even if we must act on imperfect knowledge, we must never act as if knowing is no longer relevant.” (p. 6)

  3. Posted June 6, 2013 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    I like your definition of global citizenship and share the same feeling as you when it comes to there not being tension between being a national and global citizen. I liked your Nike example because so many big companies now use the cheaper labor wages of other countries to improve their margins.

  4. Posted June 5, 2013 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    I like your definition of being a global citizen. We all create so many boundaries (whether it be national, racial, etc.) and we need to realize we are all one in the same, and we need to be globally protected, not individually. Sociology uses the logic that we do not have personal problems, but world problems that are replicated in individual’s lives. I also liked that you touched on being aware AND being active is necessary, because as we’re seeing in War Games/Crisis Caravan with the MONGOS, those who are not fully aware or even fully capable of helping are acting without thought. We all have impact upon one another in the world, and it is important to fully realize what the impact we’re making is exactly.

  5. Posted June 5, 2013 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Actually I was going to use Bill Clinton’s commencement speech as well! He demonstrates qualities and characteristics that a global citizen has. When you use Nike as an example of “what we do in one place affects someone on the other side of the world.” It’a great point that It can be both negative and positive. Having a conscious about our daily life and paying attention to small things are excellent ways to act as a global citizen.