Are You a National or a Global Citizen?

Global Village

A recent poll looked at the opinions of 20,000 people in 18 countries around the world regarding self-perceptions of citizenship. It showed that a significant amount of people – more than half – agreed that they consider themselves as “global citizens” more than a citizen of their own nationality.

As the World Economic Forum mentions, “The big increase of this sentiment is being driven largely by emerging economies, such as Nigeria (73% feel they are global citizens), China (71%), Peru (70%), and India (67%).” The poll also shows that ever since 2009, following the global economic crisis, industrialized nations are less likely to agree.

The results of the poll are here:

Global Citizen Poll

Global Citizen Poll

I rarely speak personally on this blog, but this poll was personally very meaningful to me, and I wanted to share my thoughts here.

About a week or so before having seen this poll, I began having intense feelings that I have largely lost my sense of national identity. I certainly do not think this is a bad thing; I just find it interesting. I have lived in three different continents over the past decade, and I have become a citizen of a hybrid culture, despite a specific passport.

Three years ago, I wrote about Third Culture Kids (TCK) and hybrid cultures; and over time, I have come to see that these are the kinds of people I identify well with. These are people who spend a lot of time with foreigners, move a lot, leave home and go abroad, or gradually lose a sense of where “home” even is. I consider myself to be in the latter category. I have a family that I know I can count on, but I am scarcely able to visit, so it hasn’t felt like “home” for many years. Once again, I don’t consider this a bad thing. I just think of it objectively, in that it is interesting that I have lost my sense of “home.”

Perhaps the reason I don’t feel that this is a negative thing is because I am incredibly hopeful and optimistic for the future. I have a strong desire to travel and explore the world, and I believe that one day I will find a place that I consider to be “my home.” There are a few places I have visited which I could imagine making my home, but there are still so many places I have never been to. Especially within the last year or so, I have fantasized about traveling the world and stumbling onto some place that I feel at home in.

The only reason I do not feel 100% as a “global citizen” is because when it comes to finding a job in a foreign country, visa issues make things very difficult. I have been reminded many times that I cannot simply walk over to another part of this “global village” and just set up shop. The European Union is the only supranational association I know of where this kind of thing is possible, but that doesn’t help me. Regardless of this reminder, I do still feel more strongly that I am a global citizen, and I look forward to experiencing other cultures around the world.

One of the other reasons I feel strongly about being a global citizen is because, through this blog – and other mediums, of course – I have gained a greater awareness about the world. I have come to watch news stories about people in places I have never had any affiliation with, and I often feel myself in their places. I have a sense that we are just a genetically diverse family, in a common world with various languages but cultures that are far more alike than they are different.

I believe that the sentiment of feeling that one is a “global citizen” rather than a national is a good thing. We are born into countries – we did not make that choice. But we do have a say in where we go, and if we make enough effort, we can probably make it there. I believe that I can go wherever I want, and so can you.

I want to end this post with a few quotes that convey my thoughts on this subject:

And all the books you’ve read have been read by other people. And all the songs you’ve loved have been heard by other people. And that girl that’s pretty to you is pretty to other people. and that if you looked at these facts when you were happy, you would feel great because you are describing “unity.”
― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

 

After so many years, I feel more American than anything else, but I’m also Romanian and whatever other oddities of temperament I picked up elsewhere, in Transylvania or France, for instance. These days, everybody is both an exile and a resident – they don’t call it the global village for nothing.
― Andrei Codrescu

 

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost.
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

 

Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.
― Anita Desai

 

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