Subana Hall / Guest Writer
The term global citizen has become a very widely used term in schools, workplaces and even in the media, but who or what exactly is a global citizen?
How differently does a global citizen think? Does a global citizen mean having ancestors from different races? Does being global mean eating international cuisines and wearing different cultural clothes? Or does it refer to someone who is a globe-trotter and well travelled?
Can people be global even if they have never travelled to another country? Does marrying a foreigner make one global? Is a global citizen colour blind?
I have at times been asked if I feel British because of my long stay abroad and my accent. Even when I declare that I am Singaporean, I am asked what kind of Singaporean I am to which I often reply, ‘a really good one.’ (Even though I know very well that they are referring to my ethnicity.)
Many times I have wondered if it really matters what nationality I belong to or what religion I follow. Should it not be about the kind of person I am and what good I can do for others? Should it not be about how I can make this world a better place regardless of my race, gender, language or religion? Isn’t that what becoming global means?
So I ask myself, if living in a multi racial society, working with people of different cultures, celebrating various cultures and eating international cuisine does not make me global, what will?
Although the idea of a global citizen is inspirational, perhaps the reality of becoming one may not be straight forward.
The one thing I discovered through my research is that becoming a global citizen will involve a huge shift in a person’s mindset and this is not an easy shift.
A person’s mindset is rather powerful and influenced by various factors including religion, race, culture, ethics, values, education, aspirations and even family and friends.
People are defined by their cultural influences, beliefs and personal values. However, what’s more important is not how they feel about their own culture but that of others.
People’s mindset has to shift towards the well being of the entire humanity. This means realising how their actions affect the world and not just their own lives or nations.
Such mindset of openness, nobleness, tolerance and acceptance will be more effective if it is set from a very young age in children across the world. But will it be achievable?
Can Singapore achieve that or will we remain fixed on our demographics?
As the late author of the Road Less Travelled M. Scott said, let’s share our similarities and celebrate our differences. This has always stuck in my mind as a powerful reminder that rather than resisting differences in people, we should learn to accept them and learn to live in unity.
Rather than saying one people, one nation… why not live in harmony as many people but one world.
Rather than becoming colour blind, why not enjoy the different colours around us. I am not referring just to Singapore but the world; I am thinking global.
Essentially, the global citizen mindset has to become the global mindset.
So, can humans shed their egocentric attributes and differences and become truly global?