We are global citizens, lets act like it


At the same time I’m stressed about a homework assignment, angrily scribbling on page wondering how this is going to affect my GPA, refugee children are clinging to capsized boats, Israeli police and Palestinian youth are clashing in the Holy City and airstrikes rain on Yemen.

I remember sitting in my high school history class, my teacher’s eyes ablaze with wonder and excitement: “With the internet everyone can get an education, everyone can be informed. Now we are not only citizens of the United States, we are global citizens.”

There was an excitement to that statement. I remember my astonishment about a future of interconnectivity — now almost anyone would be able to correspond with almost anyone else across world in a matter of seconds. We are that much closer to considering everyone a brother and sister, no matter the distance that separates us. A world where we could all broadcast, circulate and disperse our thoughts to a greater audience. All of a sudden we became “Global Citizens.”

Being a “Global Citizen” means staying informed about what’s going on in your hometown as well as what might be happening in Egypt. Being a “Global Citizen” means knowing and understanding how Russia is moving to support Syria, Egypt is struggling with corruption in the government, the U.S. is gearing up to elect its next president and, thanks to climate change, the oceans will be 10 feet higher by 2065.

With all of the newsworthy material affecting thousands if not millions of people, it was unsettling to check Twitter and read what was trending in collective conscious. The top trending topics were related to One Direction (#Happy22ndBirthdayNiall, #larrystylinson and most horribly #cut4zayn) or the illustrious Kardashians (#kyliejennerchallenge, #breaktheinternet).

Why is it that although we are capable of being informed we choose to obsess about petty nonsense? Why do we choose to ignore the churning tides of international politics and macroeconomy so carelessly that when I ask a friend about what they think about the impending global shift of power from the U.S. to China they stare blankly at me?

I very much believe that we have become weak. Our value system has shifted from those things that are important to the superfluous.

No doubt that much of what is happening in the world which is newsworthy tends to be sad. Every day I feel that emotional sucker punch when I scroll through the news. All the death, accidents, attacks and war can certainly start a morning off on a gloomy note. Therefore how can I blame people for lobotomizing themselves with People Magazine and Netflix marathons?

As a race we often content ourselves with how much progress we’ve made from where we were in the past. The past where girls were wed by the age of 13, “grandparents” were a foreign concept and religion was the only way to explain “Why?” Rightfully so we believe we are better off now.

And we are. Homosexuality isn’t considered a mortal sin, marriage is a choice for anyone, we see our grandparents during Christmas and medicines derived post-penicillin enable us to live to 120 years old.

But that doesn’t mean we now have the right to mentally check out. We can’t pat ourselves on the back and clock out of being a “Global Citizen.” Time isn’t stagnate, change is always in motion, and we have to be a part of it instead of ignoring what doesn’t interest us. For example, everyone in the U.S. of voting age should know the presidential candidates and actually vote; we all need to be participating citizens.

It is our responsibility to know what happens on our planet — we can’t stick our heads in the sand.

There are always professors that stand in the room and say, “Global warming is happening, helium is running out, fresh water will be completely gone, the ocean is rising, but it’s not my problem because I will already be dead.” Some professors laugh at the point, “It’s your generation’s problem.”

And you sit there wanting to say, “That’s not fair, these are your generation’s mistakes!”

Panic fills your mind as you think of the magnitude of the problem. But then you sit back and think, “Surely someone is working solutions to giant problems like global warming, the mass extinction of coral reefs or AIDS in Africa. Someone is going to do it.”

There are 7 billion humans on this planet and many are able to have the freedom of choice or the blessing of being born in a family able to provide an education. We grow up being told to be what we want to be. For a large number of us, our first fantasies involve singing, acting and dancing.

But we have to make that choice. Those of us able to go to college, receive a secondary education and even get a primary education. We have to make choices that aren’t centered on “Me and what I want” at times. We have to go on and make the harder decision and take the harder paths in our education and careers. Study hard and study often. Don’t shy away from the “harder” engineering majors because they’re a lot of work.

I’m not saying that we all must become engineers. I’m saying, however, that we must remember we are a part of a whole. We are all here together on this singular planet, standing on its crust watching as we destroy each other and the earth itself.

We must acknowledge that we are “Global Citizens.” Whether it be by reading more world news or going as far as rethinking our career. If we ignore this fact, it is very certain we will lose it.

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