Towards A Global Citizenship
By Omid Miri
Omid Miri is the founder and director of the New Century Institute. He graduated from the University of Exeter with a degree in Politics in 2014 and is passionate about the issues of climate change, conflict resolution, and the development of a positive vision of globalism.
The motion of human history has been heading in one direction. Our history, though bloodstained, cruel, at times disheartening beyond belief, has been the tale of ever closer union – a coming together of peoples. Our ascent from the wandering hunter-gatherer tribes of our earliest ancestors, the great nomadic forefathers of our species, to the dizzying heights of a global civilisation of over 7 billion has been a voyage of progress through the ages: from tribe to village, from village to city, city to state, the journey of organising ourselves into larger and more efficient bodies. But this necessary trend is not yet over. Now, more than ever, must we embrace the march of our history.
It was the need to overcome the challenges of the day that brought people together – when one group lacked the basic resources necessary to survive, they moved and, not without struggle or conflict, joined with other communities that could provide. When one group lacked the skills necessary to hunt, forage, and build, they found others that could and, not without tragedy or bloodshed, made use of their talents. When multiple smaller groups faced a larger threat, they did what had to be done and joined arms in order to defend themselves. Those that did not were simply left behind.
This basic truth has held throughout the ages: when the time came for the system of continental empires, fiefdoms, absolute monarchies and the remnants of feudalism to be swept aside, the spirit of national consciousness was sparked. The ideal of the people as sovereign was conceived out of a need for the people to decide their own fate, to control their own destiny, to move beyond the limits of arbitrary and unqualified power – and so the nation-state was born. But not without sacrifice, for progress always comes in the shadow of necessity and desperation. It was not with ease and not without reason that our ancestors came together, whether to survive in the plains of Africa or to re-shape the face of Europe, but in the face of stagnation, regression, even death, it has always been worth it.
But the nation-state, while necessary for a time, has outlived its use. Now we face the age of global challenges – obstacles, threats, and crises that have the potential to affect the lives of every single human being. Throughout our history we have met with struggles that have been relative to single countries, single regions, single continents, and have overcome them within these relative scales. Today the scale is greater than ever: climate change, the fight against global poverty and disease, conflict resolution, multilateral nuclear disarmament, and the stresses of migration are all the challenges of our ‘commons’. It is the very things which we all share, our common environment, our common humanity, our common hopes for the future which are at stake, and it is only in common that we can secure and realise them.
It is in this century that we will decide the fate of those to be born in the next. It is at this historic crossroads, now or never, that we must accept and reaffirm the basic truth that has guided us throughout history – the only way we overcome our challenges is by coming together. When the threats we face are global, our response must be appropriate in scale and realistic about the shortcomings of unilateral action by individual states. Today, it is multilaterally and supra-nationally that we can best pool our resources, skills, and efforts in pursuit of solutions, with continental bodies such as the European Union providing an unparalleled opportunity for cooperation and partnership: but it is not without difficulty that we will follow this road. In order to do so we must once more rethink the very concept of sovereignty, not as enshrined in the nation but in the will and necessary survival of greater groupings of people, and we must retake the notion of patriotism, not as the mild corollary of nationalism but as the very thing that inspires us to secure the future, health, and prosperity of our communities by any means. Just as our ancestors learnt, this will not be with ease. But now, too, it is not without reason.
It is only by the efforts of our generation, we who will inherit the world and its challenges, that this will be possible. We must begin preparing and innovating the solutions that are necessary, we must begin engaging our political systems and elites, we must begin persuading all generations of what must be done – now. The process of working together to create a better world may have instances of historical precedence and may at times seem inevitable, but complacency is the greatest danger: only with an engaged, active, and aware generation, committed to the vision of a safe and secure future for humanity, can we truly succeed in overcoming our collective challenges and fulfil the mission of this century.