Global citizenship – A natural state

By Shaima Hamidaddin

For 2020, global citizenship is a key theme for the Misk Global Forum. But what is a global citizen? Who is a global citizen? Really, the answer’s simple: It’s everyone on this planet. By nature, we’re all a part of this global community and none of us is completely isolated. But the truth of that sometimes gets lost in complex definitions and political debate. So, for us at Misk and for myself personally, nurturing everyone we work with to be conscious of that fact is really important – for their own benefit and for the planet’s.


For me, I know there’s no way I couldn’t consider myself a global citizen – I’ve been lucky to have studied and worked across the globe. And while I’m currently based in Saudi Arabia (where I come from), my work day-in and day-out puts me in touch with other people all over the world. And a little bit of every country I’ve lived in has stayed with me in some way. But, while I’ve been lucky to travel and to have this kind of job, international connectivity is a daily reality in households everywhere now.


In fact, as I’ve discovered with my own kids, young people today are probably the most connected of all. It’s not just online meetings, news channels, or working abroad: it’s cartoons (in Saudi Arabia we watch a lot of American, European, and Japanese shows sometimes dubbed into Arabic – your heroes are our heroes a lot of the time), it’s multiplayer video games), and it’s social media. These platforms may only give us a glimpse of another culture, but every glimpse teaches us something. And couple that with basic human insight, empathy, and understanding, and we’re able to connect internationally on a deeper level than ever before. Our cultures are in constant communication, absorbing each other’s heroes and villains, interests and concerns, tics and tik-toks. So there truly is a shared “global culture”, built on all our own local cultures interacting with each other.


And this isn’t just some fluffy thing it’s nice to have. We need these interactions, and the skills to make these interactions worthwhile.


On a personal level, a lot of us have or will have jobs, friendships, and relationships that cross borders – whether online or in real life. But there’s the other, more tangible, more impactful side to global citizenship: when we talk about actions and impacts, the local is global. On a bad day, we can see how pollution in one country can poison others 1000s of miles away; on a good day, we can see how a local solution can also spread internationally.


So, at Misk, we want to make everyone we work with aware that they’re global citizens. Of course, they’re citizens of their home countries, part of their local communities too, but they’re also citizens of everywhere. It means they’re responsible for themselves and for others. In my next piece, I’m going to talk in more detail about our main program on global citizenship, the Y20, which is part of the wider G20. I will try to share why it is encouraging people to take their local problems and solutions to a global level, and we will look at how you and others can get involved.


So, until then think about how in your daily life you’re interacting or impacting globally – think about what the show you’re watching tells you about another culture, about how your culture is reaching out to the world, and about how you too can reach out by taking some small local action. An action that can be implemented elsewhere, or has the potential to deliver a larger scale, global impact. Because no man or woman is an island and, these days, no country is really an island either.


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