Global Citizenship: Navigating through Challenges and Barriers
We, as a human race, have come a long way. From being nomadic tribes to constructing skyscrapers, the Homo Sapiens have traversed the globe, setting up civilizations in the remotest lands and sailing across the seven oceans. Despite the intermingling of societies, accelerated by globalization 18th century onwards, the hindrances to Global Citizenship have only increased. What are Melton Fellows doing to change this narrative, and make Global Citizenship an everyday reality?
At the Melton Foundation, we believe a global changemaker’s journey is multifaceted: Experiential, systemic, and integrated. However, when we discuss hurdles to overcome in order to create a united front, three broad issues come to the fore:
- Challenge #1: The first one relates to the complexity associated with the narrative. We generally find identity-shifting narratives to be challenging or unacceptable. Most discussions appear to be restricted to sophisticated and exclusive circles. The discourse on global citizenship remains confined to intellectual discussions amongst a relatively small number of people, giving it a halo of elitism. The push for the expansion of the spheres within which we operate conveys nothing but a complex and convoluted narrative for the general public to comprehend.
- Suggestive Remedy: The need of the moment is to compose an easy and practical message of sustaining global citizenship practices. One of the most significant factors in taking global citizenship to local heartlands is signaling by the right set of actors.
- Challenge # 2: The second one pertains to the inherent difficulty in taking into consideration local contexts while working on a global scale. The essence of global citizenship lies in acknowledging, rather than suppressing, our multiple identities and reconciling them by harnessing the local resources available in order to resolve global conflicts. It does not in any way entail someone to get disconnected from their local reality. The naysayers often portray it as cultural appropriation masquerading as global citizenship.
- Suggestive Remedy: Global citizens are those individuals who switch contexts and effectively juggle between global and local practices. They are experts at using contextualization to their advantage and developing customized approaches in harmony with prevailing local conditions.
- Challenge #3: The third major problem is the wave of nationalism and protectionism sweeping the world. This is because the populist narratives are those of ease and maintaining the status quo. Protectionism hampers economic mobility, which has a spillover effect on other aspects of cultural and social interchange too. Globalism has often been portrayed as evil, and nationalism has been advocated as a way to combat it. This school of thought paints a simplified, and also harmful, a portrait of an otherwise complex and multi-dimensional conflict.
- Suggestive Remedy: It is imperative to find a comprehensive message of global citizenship as a necessary response to populist messaging. The rise of globalization has implied that the ripples of an action committed at one corner of the world be felt at another corner of the world. Hence, equitable access for all, rather than protectionist policies, is the way to go.
Despite the challenges to be overcome, the current state of globalization isn’t without its green shoots. A recent poll, conducted in 2016, has demonstrated that 51% of the world’s population subscribes to global citizenship already, as opposed to the 43% who view themselves through nationalistic lenses. The inevitability of globalization must be taken as an incentive for us to shun insularity, instead of retreating into our cocooned mindsets. Now more than ever before, the needs of one coincide with the needs of all.
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The above article is an excerpt from our WhitePaper on The State of Global Citizenship. Global citizenship is not just a mere term in social vogue today; it is a real phenomenon, playing out in different areas of the world stage today. To know more about Global Citizenship and the Melton Foundation, do read the full version of our WhitePaper, available here!