The idea of global citizenship can be traced back to as early as the 4th century BC with Socrates much repeated axiom that he considered himself a citizen of the world. Granted, Socrates’ world was much smaller than ours, and whether or not Socrates actually uttered the phrase or not is irrelevant, but the sentiment speaks to some
important truths that remain with today.
One of the underlying themes of this quotation is the idea that education knows no borders. Ideas, opinions, knowledge in an ideal world cannot be stopped. Thus for Socrates, global citizenship was seen as a result of education. However, the idea of global citizenship carries with other connotations.
I like to see myself as a global citizen. I have traveled to different parts of the world, I can speak another language passibly well enough that I can talk my way out of fight with a teenager trying to prove his masculinity. I have worked to educate myself about issues that impact different parts of the world. And yet, a large part of me remain wholly unaffected by the larger world around me. In contemplating this dichotomy, I have begun to realize that simply traveling to and reading about different parts of the world is not enough to justify my metaphysical global passport. As the current refugee crisis continues to unfold, global citizenship looks more and more like global responsibility.
This stands in stark relief in my community of Kitchener-Waterloo where the cities have taken in thousands of
Syrian refugees. As a global citizen, I have a responsibility to do my part in welcoming these people into the community; this may mean working to correct myths about the refugees, it may include being politically active to work towards solutions that are long lasting and will help preserve the dignity of these migrants, it means l
earning about government policy the local, provincial, and federal level and how these policies impact population migrations.
As someone who comes from the privilege of the global
north, I have the luxury of equating global citizenship with educational opportunities, but the fact is that the divide between the educated and non-educated is growing. Although there are major efforts to shrink this divide, political upheavals in the global south have prevented millions of children from receiving even basic education.
As efforts are made to shrink the educational divide, they must be informed by a humane approach to education. This is of relevance to teachers who may have children refugees in their classrooms. A humane educational approach will take into account the traumas experienced by these children as well as recognize that teachers have a responsibility to shrink the educational divide.
As the world continues to shrink, none of us can escape the reality of our global citizenship nor can we escape the responsibilities that citizenship places upon us.