Citizen of the World

A World Citizen is a human being who lives intellectually, morally and physically in the present. A World Citizen accepts the dynamic fact that the planetary human community is interdependent and whole, that humankind is essentially one. 

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I recently came across the above credo on a website titled "World Goverment for World Citizens" where one could "register" to become a world citizen.  This organization, created by Garry Davis, who has lived for 60 years as a citizen of no nation, issues a World Passport (usually not considered a valid passport) to world citizens. I found it strange that you had to register to be a world citizen so I researched the concept a bit further.  The idea actually stems back to Ancient Greece where some philosophers denounced the city-state.  In later years, philosopher Thomas Paine stated, "The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren and to do good is my religion."  Other scholars have declared similar ideas, including Albert Einstein who described himself as a world citizen.  Einstein said "Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind."  The idea has been used to promote political ideologies and support antinationalism; it is the basis for religious philosophies (Bahá'í Faith); activists issue awards based on the concept; And, the boy scouts even issue a world citizen merit badge.  

These concepts - that we should live intellectually, morally and physically in the present and that humanity is interdependent and whole - are also core to ancient yogic sutras.  Yoga philosophy teaches us that we are continuously aware of a universe with things, lives, and activities, and the interactions among them. This interdependency creates “our” universe.  In essence, we are all citizens of the world, even when we are not consciously aware of it.    

I don't believe that it takes a passport to make you a citizen of the world.  I also don't believe that the idea is inconsistent with nationalism.  To me, it means to have an open-mind and a willingness to experience cultures that are vastly different from your own.  It is a desire to step outside your comfort zone and interact with your surroundings.  It is what makes each of us grow as individuals and humans.  And, it doesn't require world travel.  You can be a citizen of the world by interacting with cultures right on your own doorstep.  

My passion for world travel means that I will always strive to reach far beyond my homeland borders.  Although not for everyone, my personal five year plan is to visit each of the 193 countries that make up the United Nations (all internationally recognized sovereign nations).  I crave new cultures and new experiences.  Yet I don't want to be a spectator.  I want to interact, to learn, to contribute.  

I know that some countries will be difficult for me to visit for various reasons including my religion, political unrest or cost and accessibility.  But why not take on a challenge?  As I begin this challenge, I will try to share with you my thoughts and perceptions on what it means to be truly been a citizen of the world, regardless of the color of your passport.

 © CommonFate 2015