from The Worldview Literacy Book   copyright 2009            back to worldview theme(s) #37


     Consider the question "To what do I belong?"  It has previously been indirectly considered with respect to generally deciding whether you: 1) go along with the crowd, trust the authority of someone else, or are self reliant (theme #15 vs. theme #35A), and 2) trust the collective wisdom of the people (theme #20A vs. theme #21A).  It will later be considered with respect to your belonging to 1) family (theme #38), and 2) co-operative efforts in the community (theme #48).  But here we consider it at a higher (ethnic, national, or global) level.

#37A: Do you feel loyalty to a particular nation or nation state?

While many would privately answer "yes," some make public affirmations.  Everyday, millions of American school children face the flag and recite "The Pledge of Allegiance."  And many adults proclaim "I'm proud to be an American!" (Figure #37a)

     In daily conversation people often use the term nation when they really mean nation state.  The former are defined by ethnic and cultural (which can include religious) ties, the latter as a sovereign political unit with full authority over its internal and external affairs.  For example, the Navaho nation exists within the USA nation state.  A nation is not something that can form when a large group of ethnically / culturally connected people get together (like the self proclaimed "Woodstock Nation" of the 1969 rock concert), but rather has long history, traditions, and national homeland.  A person exhibiting extreme loyalty and devotion to a particular nation (or nation state), who places its interests above interests of other nations is said to be a nationalist.  The feelings of such people are referred to as nationalism, of which two types can be distinguished: ethnic nationalism and civic nationalism.  The former builds on hereditary, cultural, and language ties and tends to be exclusive; the latter on the voluntary participation of the citizens of a nation state (regardless of ethnicity) and tends to be inclusive. 

     If an ethnically defined nation is not a nation state, then attaining such politically sovereign status, or in general more self determination, may be the overriding focus of the associated ethnic nationalism.  The Middle East provides two such examples. 1) People of the Palestinian nation—many living in two enclaves in Israel, others living elsewhere in Israel, in Jordan and nearby—hope for their own nation state.              2) Kurds living in northern Iraq have their own semi- autonomous Kurdistan, technically still a province in Iraq, while those in southern Turkey, Iran, and elsewhere long to enlarge the territory of Kurdistan to include all of the traditional homeland. Their dream is to become a truly independent nation state.

     Nationalism is related to 1) patriotism and 2) ethnic (or other) pride.  While nationalism and patriotism invoke similar feelings, they are distinguished as follows.  Unlike patriotism, nationalism defines itself by putting down other potential rivals —evoking "an aggrandizing tribalistic sentiment" in the words of Benedict Anderson—and can involve territorial aggression.                 

     Ethnic (or other) pride, in contrast, typically involves ethnically (or otherwise) connected people (living within a nation state whose dominant culture, lifestyle, language, etc. generally does not reflect theirs), celebrating their heritage and common bonds.  The terms black pride, brown pride, Asian pride, etc. celebrate a common ethnicity, whereas gay pride celebrates a common sexual orientation and lifestyle.  Such



things as sovereignty, nation status or territorial acquisition are typically not on the agendas of "pride" movements.  Still, to the extent that they include members of minorities who have suffered or feel persecuted, they can pursue educational and political activity to rectify what they perceive to be wrongs.  Here, gays and lesbians would cite laws banning homosexual marriage.   

#37B: Citizenship refers to membership in a (local, state,  national, etc.) community that brings with it certain rights and privileges and can involve meeting certain duties.  Being a good citizen typically means working for the betterment of the community.  For a "Global Citizen," that community is the one of all human beings and their planetary home (Figure #37b). 

     Many years ago, feelings of global citizenship & community did not come as naturally as they do today.  With the dawning of the Space Age came a new perspective—provided most famously by the "Earthrise" image captured by Apollo 8 in December, 1968 (Figure #37c).  Such pictures help people appreciate various things: the unity of all the life that calls this planet home, its beauty, its fragility, its insignificance.  And something else: there are no boundary lines dividing nations! 

     Many take national boundaries very seriously.  Thousands of  job seekers annually die attempting to cross the 2000 mile long U.S.—Mexico boundary.  Armed American citizen vigilante "patriot" groups guard the border against illegal immigration. And the U.S. government spends $ billions building a border wall. "Global Citizens" in contrast, point out that boundaries are manmade lines that otherwise divide those united by a common humanity.  Extending "Global Vision" (theme #4) so this could be seen required human technology progressing into space. Back on Earth, technological developments drive globalization and people, information, and capital increasingly move as if national boundaries are irrelevant. 

     Global Citizens dream of what some call the global village. They imagine all people living peacefully under the authority of a world government: nation states & boundaries no longer exist. "Proud Identification" issues that once divided people—often so bitterly, with such tragic loss of life—no longer do.  Global Citizens' sense of belonging puts them at the top of the ethical behavior evolutionary pyramid.  Their global village would be founded on feelings and principles stated in "The Golden Rule," "Valuing Human Rights," "Ethical Orientation," "Ethical Globalization" (themes #16, #32, #42 and #51 respectively), and other themes.  Like, John Lennon, they ask us to "Imagine..."

Figure #37a: Contrasting Songs

                       Patriotic Songs:                              

Proud to be An American        (Lee Greenwood)

God Bless America   (Irving Berlin, Kate Smith)


Songs for Global Citizens:

We are the World    (Michael Jackson, Lionel Ritchie)

Imagine   (John Lennon)




Figure #37b:   Declaration of a Global Ethic

We are interdependent.  Each of us depends on the well-being of the whole, and so we have respect for the community of living beings...Opening our hearts to one another, we must sink our narrow differences for the cause of world community, practicing a culture of solidarity and relatedness.  We consider humankind a family... Earth cannot be changed for the better unless the consciousness of individuals is changed first...  Therefore we commit ourselves to this global ethic, to understanding one another, and to socially beneficial, peace-fostering, and nature-friendly ways of life.

(from the 1993 Parliament of the World's Religions, Chicago, IL)


Figure #37c: Earthrise

The famous Earthrise over the lunar horizon photo was taken by the Apollo 8 crew shortly before Christmas, 1968.

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