“I am often asked what can people do to become a good global citizen. I reply that it begins in your own community.” – Kofi Annan
Having grown up in a country considered to be a crossroad for different nationalities and cultures, the notion of globalization seems natural to me. My identity isn’t tethered to a specific country, and I’m comfortable with being part of this great melting pot. I have never quite understood people with strong nationalistic sentiments.
Nowhere is patriotism more visible than at international sporting events like the Olympics, or the World Cup. The passionate displays of national pride are a sight to behold – people painting their faces with the colors of their flags, dancing, singing, chanting and other outpourings of emotion – a vivid display of one’s love for their country.
Whenever I witness these intense expressions of devotion, I’m reminded how big a deal national pride is. There are so many people out there whose identity comes largely from their country’s heritage – their culture, beliefs, traditions, and history. I’m starting to realize why all the patriots out there are clinging to this with such urgency; they feel threatened by the onslaught of foreign influence that they feel dilutes their cultural distinction.
In a global culture major cities appear to be transforming into clones of one another – restaurants serving a country’s traditional delicacies are now being taken over by big fast food chains, traditional clothing stores are being replaced with big, commercial brands, and Western pop-culture is infiltrating the playlists of youth, whether they live in Calcutta, Moscow, or Beirut. Homogenization of cultures is steadily on the rise, and people are justifiably afraid of losing their national identity, values, and traditions.
But, is resisting the inevitability of globalization the right way for us to use our energy? In the past, people’s worlds were limited to their local townships, kingdoms, and communities because that’s all they knew. However, with the advent of modern transportation, and the Internet, over the past decades we’ve become closer to each other than ever before.
Now we can have conversations with people on remote corners of the planet. We have a window that allows us to look outside where we live – there’s just no way that we can limit ourselves to our borders. We can find out what it’s like to be a sushi maker in Japan, an artisan in France, or a mother in the Congo through the powerful mediums now available to us.
Given this scenario, our identities are bound to blend and influence each other through the process of cultural osmosis. Whether we like it or not, globalization is the direction of the future. Clinging to the old ways will produce an overly ethnocentric orientation that’s primitive in today’s world. It keeps us disengaged from important, universal affairs such as global warming, the refugee crises, and the threat of nuclear arms that impact us all.
We want to be wary of a conservative view on globalization as it can lead to close-mindedness and a fear-based “us vs. them” stance. Nationalistic sentiments that exclude and isolate trap us in a bubble of ignorance that can lead to misunderstanding, and an inability to cooperate. Wars, riots, discrimination, and inequality spawn from this mindset.
Being overly protective and hostile toward perceived threats is a reptilian response from the lower mind. We can transcend this lower vibration by gaining a higher perspective that proves that ultimately, we’re all inextricably connected, and that working together will lead to the evolution of humanity.
If you consider yourself to be a patriot of your country, know that you can embrace globalization without letting go of your national identity. You don’t have to pick sides – they aren’t mutually exclusive, as most people think. I suggest imagining that you own two passports – one from your country/countries, and one as a “world citizen.” You’ll have dual citizenship once you acknowledge that you are a citizen of planet Earth.
This progressive approach is needed now more than ever so that we can work together to improve the human condition and the current state of our planet. Here are some simple ways that you can embrace globalization without losing your identity:
1. Stay informed about global and national news: The press coverage in a certain country tends to give more emphasis to local news. While it’s important to be aware of what’s going on in your area, you should also make time to read about international affairs. Read publications such as National Geographic or watch CNN International or the BBC who cover global subject matters that are universally significant.
2. Meet people from other backgrounds: A more social option for embracing globalization is meeting people from other cultures and backgrounds. Make an effort to befriend people who are outside of your community so that you can gain insights into their unique perspectives, habits, and ways of living. I’ve found that whenever I travel or attend events where I can meet a diverse array of people, I get a deeper understanding of my place in the world and gain a deeper appreciation of my own origins and where I’ve come from. I’ve written about how we can network and connect with people from other cultures in this post.
3. Be a good ambassador for your own country: When you’re out and about in the world ensure that you’re a good representative of your culture. Like an ambassador, you should be able to speak about the affairs of your home in a positive, yet balanced way. Even if there are problems in your country, demonstrate your concern about the issues outlining the active steps being taken to find solutions. I’ve felt this many times in my life and have always done my best to represent my country of origin in the best possible light, a responsibility I have never taken lightly.
4. Contribute to both global and national causes: Most people’s concerns center on the pressing issues in their communities. As the saying goes, “Charity begins at home”. But, as we educate ourselves on international affairs, it’s tougher to turn a blind eye to the problems that are threatening our planetary ecosystem. In this previous post, I’ve written in detail about what each one of us can do to help alleviate global problems.
The world is gradually appearing to grow smaller and smaller, and we should celebrate the closeness that we’re feeling with each other in the process. If we can do this, while holding on to our distinct national identities with their unique color, texture, and rhythms, we’ll have the capacity to add to the vibrant and beautiful mosaic that defines planet Earth.
All my best on your journey,
Question: Do you believe that we can embrace globalization without losing our identity? Do you agree that this is the right direction?