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The 21st Century has witnessed integration and increased cultural interaction among people on a previously unprecedented scale. This frequent interaction between people from varied countries and cultures has risen mostly as a result of the advances that have been made in transport and communication technologies.
As a result of this interaction, there has been the major integration of economies and cultures in a process known as globalization. As a result of globalization, governments are increasingly being required to link together different levels of their activities: national and global. This has resulted in the building of a global citizenry which sees the world as their “country”.
However, the global citizen continues to be heavily influenced by the traditional notion of citizen, a term that is “wrapped up in rights and obligations and in owing allegiance to a sovereign state” (Lagos 1). This paper shall argue that it is hugely necessary for one to be a good citizen so as to become a global citizen. To reinforce this claim, this paper shall analyze the extent to which it is necessary to be a “good citizen” in order to be a “global citizen”, and vice versa.
Good Citizen needed to make a Global Citizen
The world is full of social injustices mostly perpetrated by the stronger members of the society against the weaker ones. A defining characteristic of a good national citizen in such an environment is his/her concern about the injustices that occur within their boundaries.
This concern normally manifests itself in protests and public demonstrations calling for action by the government in place to counter the perceived injustices. A report by the World Bank demonstrates that the global citizen shows the same concern for the welfare of the globe and is moved to free their fellow men from dehumanizing conditions (1). As such, it takes a good citizen to make the global citizen who will be keen to decry social injustices against other human beings.
Core to the agendas of the good citizen is the preservation of peace in his country. A good citizen will strive to preserve peace especially within the boundaries of his/her country. This is mostly because the citizen recognizes the destruction and loss that war culminates in. For this reason, the good citizen seeks to mobilize against all wars through peaceful demonstrations and advocacy against wars.
The United Nations declares that peace is a precondition of global citizenship. The global citizen views war and strife as being contrary to his/her agenda. A good citizen who is committed to preserving peace is therefore needed to make a global citizen.
One of the attribute that a good citizen in any democratic society should possess is an understanding of public policies in his/her country. An understanding of this policies will result in enlightenment on one’s country position on issues such as energy, free trade, agriculture and the environment to name but a few.
It is only by understanding the public policies adopted by one’s country that a person can act so as to shape certain conditions such as protection of natural habitat. A global citizen is also concerned with the protection of the environment and establishment of free trade. It would therefore take a good citizen who is well versed with public policies to make a global citizen.
A good citizen is concerned about the impact that his individual actions and daily personal choices have on the country. This is an ideal that is also desirable in the global citizen since as a global citizen should make his/her decisions bases on an awareness of the impact that the decisions will have on the planet. A good citizen who is aware and conscious of the impact that his actions have on a larger scale is therefore needed to make a global citizen.
The international community is characterized by a rich diversity of cultures among its people. The global citizen is therefore prepared to operate amicably in this intercultural environment. The global citizen realizes that there should be unity in diversity and nobody has the right to impose their ideology on anybody or any group of persons.
An ideal citizen should also demonstrate this values and pay respect to people from different cultures and strives to live harmoniously with them. The good citizen should recognize that differences may exist within members of the country and this should not be a cause of strive. By acting as a global citizen who operates in a multicultural sphere, a person can be a good citizen and exist harmoniously with other citizens of varied backgrounds.
Global Citizenship needed to make a Good Citizen
Lagos documents that while globalization is acclaimed for having opened up the world and led to the emergence of a “global village”, the same force has paradoxically resulted in localization and local communities have taken greater and greater importance (9). In such an environment, it is the global citizen who holds the separate entities together and seeks to iron out the differences that the various local communities seek to advance.
For a citizen to pass for a good citizen in such an environment (the environment where local communities have taken great importance), he must have the global perspective of the global citizen. It is only by taking the global perspective that a citizen can give fair consideration to ideas with which they disagree.
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Global citizenship is increasingly working towards making the planet sustainable for all people. The efforts directed to this end are mostly in the form of advocacy for conservation of the environment, reduction of pollution and the reliance on renewable sources of power. A good citizen is supposed to work towards the preservation of the country’s resources for future resources. As such, the good citizen has to be a global citizen who is concerned with making the planet sustainable.
As a global citizen, one is expected to be non judgmental and overlook the religious differences that divide humanity. The UN states that the global citizen should have values such as “rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”. A good citizen should also have these values enshrined in them. A good citizen should avoid engaging in religious discrimination since this threatens unity among the citizens of the nation.
This paper has demonstrated that being a global citizen is intrinsically connected to being a good citizen. As such, being a global citizenship implies a responsibility to be a good citizen. However, there are instances where being a global citizen may cause one to be a “bad citizen”.
For example, a global citizen is not expected to advocate for war or side with any party during war. Good citizenship calls for one to back their country when it is involved in a war. Acting as a global citizen in such instances can therefore prevent one from being an ideal citizen.
Lagos indicates that a citizen obtains a certain amount of protection from his/her country in return for abiding to some restrictions that the government may impose on him/her (3). A good citizen is therefore required to abide by some laws and allow some bureaucratic control from his/her nation.
A global citizen on the other hand does not have any kind of protection and has some amount of degree from bureaucratic control. Lagos states that the hallmark of global citizen is the lack of allegiance to any body of laws to control the individual. In this light, being a global citizen goes contrary to what being a good citizen entails.
This paper set out to argue that to a large extent, it is necessary to be a “good citizen” in order to be a “global citizen” and vice versa. The paper performed a detailed analysis of how a person may be obligated to be a good citizen so as to qualify as a global citizen and vise versa.
This paper has shown that global citizens borrow most of their rights and obligations from the traditional “citizen” who is defined by a civic engagement to a nation existing in a particular geography. In particular, the paper demonstrates that values such as tolerance, civic education are innate in both the good citizen and the global citizen. However, the paper has also shown that global citizen differs significantly from the citizen and in some instances, being a global citizen may cause one not to fulfill his role as a good citizen.
Lagos, Taso. Global Citizenship- Towards a Definition. 2002. Web.
The World Bank. “Global Citizenship- Ethical Challenges Ahead”. Conference on Leadership and Core Values. 2002. Web.
UN. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 2010. Web.