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Cosmopolitanism is described by Nussbaum as a situation where an individual is first is a world citizen, before being classified according to their other specifications which are used to demean. This citizen perceives all individuals as equal, irrespective of their backgrounds like race, religion, tribe or any other form of balkanization that might be applied.
Cosmopolitanism is a way of life that goes in line with the respect for humanity and its values in its status quo since others are to be perceived as equal. Where one is born is purely by an accident that’s why all human beings should be treated with humanity wherever they exist. Differences in race nationalism class or gender amongst other differences with human beings should not be used as a basis of Balkanizing the human race.
According to Nussbaum (1994) each individual is entitled to respect of their moral choices and dignity without reference being made to their nativity or affiliations whatever they may be. He argues that human beings self knowledge is enhanced by the perception held about others and the way they relate, hence an individual will do self assessment in how they relate with people and this way a difference between cosmopolitans and the nationalists is exhibited.
There are disputes and conflicts which are brought about by selfish interests which can be minimized or avoided if the human race were to adopt a cosmopolitan approach. In its absence, much effort is made towards the whims of individuals or groups, in total disregard of other human beings who are considered as lesser individuals or groups.
Kwame (2006) argues that just like us, “other groups have similar activities; it is only that some of them happen differently from our style and they may be far from us.” Cosmopolitanism seeks to embrace all the aspects of an individual that are considered fundamental and respect deserving. This ideology is practiced by a few since the nationalistic ideologies are more egoistic and self fulfilling and at the same time rank the ‘we` group superior to others.
For one to be a world citizen, it does not mean loosing one’s local identity which is prestigious, one is supposed to recognize all those who surround the citizen and accord them the recognition, appreciation and respect them deserve. This should happen without referring to whatever stereotyping that might be there since they are the basis of classifying people. According to Holinger (1996), a world class citizen relates well with other groups, and all human beings:
Cosmopolitan is about justice, which should be evident in all aspects and it must be the one governing the relationship between human beings. This application should go beyond the general society but it should be deeply entrenched in the all individuals.
In the play the concept of nationalism is manifested in power jostling between Medea and the estranged husband Jason, both are wallowing deep in self seeking endeavors in some situations they are threatening to kill and it has actually happened in order to get to the top.
This is total disregard of human sanctity one of the major pillars of cosmopolitanism. Just like the way some nationalist countries in the world feel that they hold special salience in moral and political platforms and most decisions has to go their ways, in the play characters exhibit the same traits. These beliefs are deeply emended in the many societies which attempt to elevate themselves to higher echelons and perceive themselves as superior looking down on others.
Creron, despite being the king is a character who portrays himself as a true cosmopolitan, he let his daughter to get married to a refugee someone who was even rejected by the society they were living in. This is a rare one especially coming from a senior person in the society who has a social class that they relate with and was expected to conform to their way of thinking, the general argument of nationalists is that they should only marry in their class or someone higher in social rankling than themselves.
‘Being kind is an attribute learnt through experience “people learn to be kind by being treated the same way and notice it” and it is a continuous process that happens over time.’(Kwame 2006) They limit human interaction since it is based on imagined social superiority which marginalizes some people. According to Seneca (1986), the spirit of cosmopolitanism entails proper use of power and create equal opportunities where by one is judged as an individual but not from any other perceived quarters.
Cosmopolitanism and nationalism are some concepts that attempt to differentiate between various human interaction policies. While the latter takes a humane approach treating all human beings as equal, the latter is capitalistic, materialistic and classifies human beings according to various set stereotypes.
Holinger, D. (1998) Concepts of Cosmopolitanism Web.
Kwame, A (2006). Cosmopolitanism: ethics in a World of strangers. Web.
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Nussbaum Martha. (1994).Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism. Boston review. Web.
Seneca, A. (1986). Medea. Cornell University Press Web.