We live in a global, interconnected world! A world in which what we do every day, our day-to-day decisions and behavior have an impact not only on ourselves, but on other people as well, from other countries or continents.
Global Interdependencies, Pollution, Climate Change, Water and Eco Footprint, Sustainable Lifestyle, 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), Consumerism, Workers’ Rights, Child Labor, Unethical Companies, Fair Trade, Cultural Relativism, etc. are some of the issues that are very connected to our daily lives, whether we understand it or not.
How could you define a global citizen?
There are many perspective and ways of understanding this concept. However, in the present article it will be emphasized the approach given to the Global Education Development by the A.R.T. Fusion Association from Romania.
A global citizen is a person who has a global perspective and mind-set, understands the global implication of their actions, takes the responsibility attached to them and is constantly making changes in their lives in order to accommodate their impact on the world in a positive manner.
If we have a quick look at various statistics about the world’s wellbeing or present status we will find some disturbing numbers regarding the inequalities, injustices, abuses, human and environmental damages and victims etc. Most of them seem to be based on how we are living our lives and how we allow others to live their lives (especially when their lives directly or indirectly affect ours.
The central piece in the global puzzle is the individual, each and every one of us on this planet, regardless of our role or position in our society. On one hand we are the source of some problems and on the other we are affected by others’ problems and very often don’t make any connections.
When people first figures out that there is so much happening around, that they are part of the problem, but also part of the solution, when they truly face the heaviness and gravity of the situation in the world, when they really feel that they have a huge responsibility, there are different reactions that a person can have. As Andreea Tudorache (youth worker, trainer in development education) mentioned, there are different options of what one person can feel, or experience. The same person can go through more of these or only one. There is definitely no concrete predictable path a person will take as it depends on their personality and the context.
Denies it all and continues their life like before “it’s not really our responsibility”, “it is all a lie”, “it’s not really as bad as they say”, “it’s not really like that” etc.
Identifies a conspiracy behind and continues their life like before “it’s a strategy from the big corporation/government/NGO/”, “don’t let yourself by it”. Considers that they don’t know enough and postpone/condition their actions based on knowing more – the person claims that wants to understand the reasons more deeply before doing anything, finds various reasons for not allowing time to know more.
Feels guilty and powerless – the quilt is paralyzing and unless managed right, a defiance mechanism will find a way to feel better, often in one of the previous versions
I know some things and so I know it all – have a good impression about themselves and often brag about how much they know or do in these issues.
Becomes a global citizen/Changes their life – assumes the responsibility of their role in the global process and starts making changes in their life in order to balance their impact on the planet and in the world. After a while they desire to determine other people to do same and become a global educator.
It might look demotivating to see more possible reactions of people that might not do anything about the world’s future that the ones that will do something. Nevertheless, a person can find itself in a specific phase, experience what he/she feels in those moments, and process it, then move on to some different views and perspectives until he/she will find their focus/path.
“Opening the eyes” is the first step - we can call it the zero moment and from this moment on we can say that the period of being a global citizen starts. Therefore, after this point there are many more steps and actions to be taken, but let’s go through these first:
Checking out your ecological footprint - http://www.footprintnetwork.org/our-work/ecological-footprint/ or http://footprint.wwf.org.uk/
Getting more information – understanding the complexity of more and more global issues: reading articles, books, manuals, toolkits, watching documentaries or other videos, talking with people from the field, making fields visits in relevant spots etc.
Being critical of yourself and your life decisions, behavior etc. Be open to the critical input, feedback from the people around you.
Making changes in your own life style according to the information you get. This might mean paying attention to the way you use certain resources, taking more sustainable decisions, reducing, reusing, recycling the things you use, boycotting unethical companies, signing petitions, advocating etc.
Taking decisions in your life (short and long term) based on the global implications of your actions.
Reflecting more often on your role in this interconnected world.
Initiating conversations and stimulating critical thinking on global issues for the people around you.
Being an example to others!
Definitely, we need a critical mass of global citizens in order to bring along positive changes in connection with the issues mentioned before. A global citizen could be anybody, regardless the age, status, profession.
For more information about global citizenship and possible contributions from our side, check the manual on Global Education from the list - http://artfusion.ro/index.php/en/download/