A couple hundred years ago, the idea of travelling the world was far-fetched to many and even inconceivable to some. Now, with the technology we have today, not only can we travel to anywhere in the world in a matter of hours, but we are connected to almost every corner of the world through the internet. Though we retain legal citizenship of our own countries, the knowledge of the goings-on of other countries has essentially transformed us into global citizens.
Juggling this responsibility when the responsibility of managing the weight of citizenship in our own countries is difficult to upkeep can feel overwhelming, but small steps can lead you in the right direction. When it comes to global citizenship, what matters most is your mindset and being aware of others.
Awareness is Everything
Social media allows us to access millions of stories, but humans aren’t meant to handle such large communities. It can be a struggle knowing that there are so many people out there facing struggles that are unimaginable to you. As you read or watch videos of these stories, you know there is very little you can do to help any of these causes, much less all of them. However, while you might not have the means to help financially and you can’t volunteer 24/7 on three different continents, there are other ways for you to make a positive difference.
The most important thing you can do is be aware: Aware of struggles of people around the globe, aware of your prejudices and biases, and aware that you may not know best.
You May Not Know Best
Citizens in developed countries tend to think that others need saving, and that they know what’s best. This results in a phenomenon called voluntourism, which involves people going on vacation to another country and participating in volunteer work. On the surface, this might seem like a great idea, but voluntourism can often do more harm than good. This happens when volunteers don’t take note of the true needs of the people they are helping, when they are not qualified and do poor work, and when they are there for pictures more than volunteering.
Even when volunteers go abroad with good intentions, they can take away jobs of local people who could use the money. This applies to voluntourism in impoverished countries as well as countries in recovery of a natural disaster. Of course, this does not mean that helping internationally is a bad idea, it just means that taking inventory of what will actually help others is necessary. Usually, the less glamorous tasks are what people need most; after a natural disaster, everyone wants to donate buildings that will have their names on them while nobody wants to clean up the tons of rubble on the street.
Listen to Others
In this world that allows us to broadcast our voices across the globe in a matter of seconds, everyone is crying for their voices to be heard. Listening can then fall short because there are so many voices out there that it can feel like you are listening to a drone of bees, noise blended together and impossible to listen to an individual. However, taking the time to listen to others is an easy way to learn about a perspective different than your own.
You can do this by learning to interact with people who you normally wouldn’t, which means you will need to take account of your biases. While prejudice is an aspect of close-minded people, bias is a natural phenomenon shaped by what we are exposed to in our daily routines. The best way to combat biases we have is to listen to others and strive for empathy when we do.
Talking to people with different backgrounds is the best way to do this, but reading is a perfect addition to this. Great resources for gaining other perspectives include indulging in books written by international authors, listening to foreign news sources, and watching foreign films. You can also integrate this into your social media by following sources who post diverse perspectives, such as Humans of New York and National Geographic.
Though it is easy to get used to the way things are, it is important to be conscious of the fact that nothing stays the same forever, and for good reason. Society especially is ever-changing. These changes are generally for the better, but they depend on what mindsets we practice. Practicing tolerance, acceptance, empathy, and awareness can help guide those differences in a positive direction.
Though you might feel helpless in the midst of global issues, you can find small ways to help. You can’t fix everything, but you can make a positive influence in your community to start. Finding a cause you are passionate about helping and either volunteering, donating, or even dedicating your career to it can have an impact bigger than you can imagine.
If there exists one solution to global issues, it’s education. Not only can education help level out global income inequality, but it can also lead to better attitudes about physical differences such as race. Bradley University reports that racial discrimination plays a role in those discriminated against participating in bad habits, like smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, and that racism can lead to race-based trauma and PTSD.
Education can help open the minds of close-minded people and put a stop to this kind of intolerance. Furthermore, it can help the citizens of developing nations raise the standards of living and reduce global inequality. Of course, each culture has their own defined standards for living, but in the world we live in today, listening and taking some kind of action to help others are the basic obligations of global citizenship.
Photo is from pxhere Creative Commons
Guest Author Bio
Geo Sique is a writer from Boise, ID with a bachelor’s’ degrees in Communication and French and a background in journalism. When she’s not travelling outside Idaho, she loves rock climbing, hot springs, camping, and exploring the world around her.
Website: Georgette Siqueiros