Responsibilities of Global Citizens

by Michael Alpert
Seeing the world without borders is a first step toward being a global citizen.

Seeing the world without borders is a first step toward being a global citizen.

Do you feel that you're connected to those that you see on the news, even though they may be thousands of miles away? If so, you might have the innate convictions of a global citizen. People of all nationalities who feel this same pull share some common views on the world and their responsibilities to it, including educating those around them and getting involved in organized efforts to promote a healthy global community.

Being a Global Citizen

Global citizens see themselves not just as members of their own city, state or country, but also as members of a global community. Diogenes, a Greek living in the fourth century B.C., was the first man known to call himself a "citizen of the world" -- a sentiment that meant, in part, you should care about all fellow residents of the world, not just your own countrymen. As Ronald C. Israel, co-founder of the Global Citizens' Initiative, explains, it does not mean that you forsake your own country, but rather that you are concerned about the care, proper treatment and sustainability of your global neighbors, in addition to your literal ones.

Advocating for Human Rights

The United Nation's Global Education First Initiative says teachers should be trained throughout the world to communicate the importance of human rights, cultural diversity and social justice. Similarly, the United Nation's Children Fund publishes materials to teach children the importance of protecting the basic rights of all, regardless of geographic location or access to resources. Some universities offer programs that focus on global awareness. Webster University, for instance, has a Global Citizenship Program that seeks to give students the tools needed to confront the complex global problems of the 21st century.

Promoting Peace, Fighting Poverty

Numerous organizations promote involved, informed global citizenship. The United Nations was created after World War II to promote peace throughout the world and to foster collaboration between nations to fight poverty, hunger and sickness and to improve education. Other nongovernmental organizations exist to focus on specific global issues. The Global Poverty Project, for example, states a goal of ending extreme poverty by the year 2030. Another organization, the Global Business Coalition for Education, unites businesses to promote access to education for children in every part of the world.

Solving the World's Problems

Budding global citizens have a wide range of options for involvement. Primarily, individuals can focus on spreading the word about the ethos behind global citizenship. According to the Creating Great Global Citizens Initiative at the University of North Texas, good global citizens also advocate for the marginalized, create innovative solutions to global problems and help others through humanitarian aid. Furthermore, the foundations of these efforts are based on a tolerant acceptance of others and an appreciation of diverse cultures.

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