This is for all those who put humanity ahead of considerations of nationality, race or creed. These are indeed the true citizens of the world. The universe has enough resources to go round, but an obsession with the need to be ahead of others has led to inexcusable suffering and inequalities. Diogenes a cynic philosopher, who is said to be among the first proponents of world citizenship, was said to disdain human conduct as it relates to materialism. While I have nothing against wealth, the real question is if it is logical for individuals or states to do all within their powers to keep others in poverty, simply to multiply their riches beyond what they will ever need. Society seems to hail this phenomenon as genius, but I say there is nothing ingenious about amassing wealth to the deliberate detriment of others, simply for the sake of it. As King Solomon said, the pursuit of pleasures and riches is burdensome, vanity and a chasing after the wind; for what is the real gain for all the toil, when one must leave all behind?
St Augustine – Wikipedia
“…If what philosophers say of the kinship of God and Man be true, what remains for men to do but as Socrates did:—never, when asked one’s country, to answer, “I am an Athenian or a Corinthian,” but “I am a citizen of the world.”…”
“…He that hath grasped the administration of the World, who hath learned that this Community, which consists of God and men, is the foremost and mightiest and most comprehensive of all:—that from God have descended the germs of life, not to my father only and father’s father, but to all things that are born and grow upon the earth, and in an especial manner to those endowed with Reason (for those only are by their nature fitted to hold communion with God, being by means of Reason conjoined with Him)—why should not such an one call himself a citizen of the world? Why not a son of God? Why should he fear aught that comes to pass among men? Shall kinship with Caesar, or any other of the great at Rome, be enough to hedge men around with safety and consideration, without a thought of apprehension: while to have God for our Maker, and Father, and Kinsman, shall not this set us free from sorrows and fears?…”
Excerpts from The Golden Sayings of Epictetus. Translated by Hastings Crossley
“I am not an Athenian or a Corinthian, but a citizen of the world” Man is a citizen of the great city of God, where the political city is only a copy.
Socrates/Diogenes of Sinope.
Montesquieu in his Persian Letters, tried to illustrate the benefits of seeing the world beyond the perspective of one’s native country. Below is one of his letters:
Usbek to his friend Rustan, at Ispahan
WE stayed only one day at Koum. After having said
our prayers before the tomb of the virgin who brought
forth twelve prophets, we resumed our journey, and
yesterday, the twenty-sixth day since our departure
from Ispahan, we came to Tauris.
Rica and myself are perhaps the first Persians who
have left their native country urged by the thirst for
knowledge; who have abandoned the amenities of a
tranquil life for the laborious search after wisdom.
Although born in a prosperous realm, we did not
believe that its boundaries should limit our knowledge,
and that the lore of the East should alone
Tell me, without flattery, what is said of our
journey: I do not expect that it will be generally
commended. Address your letter to Erzeroum,
where I shall stay for some time. Farewell, my dear
Rustan. Rest assured that in whatever part of the
world I may be, you have in me a faithful friend.
Tauris, the 15th of the moon of
Excerpts from: Persian Letters. Montesquieu
Whether you are in your native country or for whatever reason you have left your country, be it in search of wisdom, riches or fame; or to render support to those in need, you are special if you consider yourself a citizen of the world. It is worth reminding ourselves of this principle at a time when the world seems to be reverting to name calling, and mindless nationalism. Indeed what Aristotle said that all that is required for progress has already been found out but men have refused to use what is known comes to mind; for we know that it is more beneficial to think of all humanity which is what defines us rather than thinking of persons only within political and geographical contexts. It is an absurdity for any government to claim to be responsible because it takes care of its citizens only, while being directly or indirectly responsible for human suffering externally.
No matter the circumstance surrounding your current location, take pride in being a citizen of the City of God, and do not let anyone make you feel otherwise. For those who have left their native countries however, the message would not be complete if they are not reminded that they should not view their sojourn as an escape to a better place, but an opportunity to explore, to learn, to feed their curiosities and above all to promote humanity.
“Kindly remember that he whom you call your slave sprang from the same stock, is smiled upon by the same skies, and on equal terms with yourself breathes, lives, and dies.” Seneca
“ATHENIAN: But war, whether external or civil, is not the best, and the need of either is to be deprecated; but peace with one another, and good will, are best. Nor is the victory of the state over itself to be regarded as a really good thing, but as a necessity;”
Excerpt From: Plato. “Laws.” iBooks.
“And in like manner no one can be a true statesman, whether he aims at the happiness of the individual or state, who looks only, or first of all, to external warfare; nor will he ever be a sound legislator who orders peace for the sake of war, and not war for the sake of peace.”
Excerpt From: Plato. “Laws.” iBooks.
Attempts have been made in the past towards global peace (the so called pax romana for example), and one wonders if it is reasonable to expect world leaders to work towards achieving this.
“It might be imagined that a political system which destroyed all national individuality, and rendered patriotism in its highest sense scarcely possible, would have reacted unfavourably on the literary character of the age. Yet nothing of the kind can be urged against the times which produced Epictetus, Dio Chrysostom and Arrian; while at Rome, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Martial, and Juvenal were reviving the memories of the Augustan age.”
Excerpt From: 46-120 Plutarch. “Plutarch’s Lives, Volume I.” iBooks.
Equity and global peace are not favors to anyone in particular, but necessities for responsible advancement. An example is that lessons learnt from epidemics in the past, should have thought us that safeguarding a small geographical entity we call our country, is not sufficient as a public health emergency in one country poses a global risk. We must support each other, and not focus on political demarcations. It is true that for administration and order, political divisions have their uses, but with sincerity of purposes and the love for humanity guiding us, societies should even up. Perpetuating the culture of domination by some over others helps no one. It leads to a great waste of resources that would have been better channeled to help humanity.
It is true that as a citizen of the world away from your native country, you will miss “home” sometimes, as this poet captured here:
“In whatsoever countrey men are bred
(I know not by what sweetnesse of it led),
They nourish in their minds a glad desire,
Unto their native homes for to retire,”
Excerpt From: 46-120. Plutarch. “Plutarch’s Lives, Volume I.” iBooks.
Remember however that you hold a unique status, and can contribute to making humans feel at home anywhere in the world.
Dr Ande Elisha
The Amateur Philosopher