Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Dangerous Fiction

by David Gallup

Recent events in Crimea demonstrate the dangerous fiction of the nation-state, that one day a part of the planet “belongs” to one country and, on the next day, as troops and weapons are brandished, to another.  Virtually overnight Crimea passed from Ukraine to Russia.

Whether it was the instability of the Ukrainian government, the flexing of Russian military might, or a Crimean desire to align with Russia that precipitated a change in political allegiance, the biological status of the people inhabiting that land did not change.  They remain human beings which means their highest citizenship did not change either, that of world citizenship.

When people unite at the national level, no matter what country they identify with, the resulting separation and exclusivity can easily lead to violent conflict.  A “we” versus “they” dichotomy reigns. Is it possible to maintain our tribal or nationally patriotic distinctions while simultaneously maintaining the exclusive power to destroy each other and the planet? There’s nothing wrong with maintaining our lower level allegiances as long as we recognize our highest level allegiance to each other, to humanity.

Nationalism, when the power and tools to wage war are outlawed, does not inevitably lead to armed conflict.  On its positive side, nationalism may affirm the unique cultural, linguistic, religious, socio-economic, historical and institutional differences that make our world interesting.  A few nation-states have even legally affirmed their desire for peaceful human interaction such as Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution and Article 12 of the Costa Rican Constitution which outlaw war and dissolve the national military.

As communities around the world continue to divide themselves into smaller and smaller units, the necessity to unify at a higher level in order to affirm our universal human rights and to implement a global legal framework becomes greater and greater.

With a common allegiance to global democratic institutions, to protecting humanity as a whole, and to safeguarding the earth, world citizenship links us all together for the good of the one and the many.

In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, physicist Joseph Rotblat said, “We need to convey the message that safeguarding our common property, humankind, will require developing in each of us a new loyalty: a loyalty to mankind. It calls for the nurturing of a feeling of belonging to the human race. We have to become world citizens.”  Along with Rotblat, Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, in their joint statement, appealed to human beings as human beings, “Remember your humanity, and forget the rest.”

Affirm your humanity by registering as a World Citizen.

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