Saturday, 22 December 2012

Australia's Role in Global Citizenship

The readings for this week have highlighted how Australia is one of the world leaders in being globally responsible, influential and respected, helping poorer nations with foreign aid such as disaster relief, immunization, education and employment. The term ‘global citizen’ is thrown around when talking about Australia as a whole but this makes me wonder… Is it enough to say that Australia as a nation is a global citizen, or do we need to take a Gestalt approach and look separately at the people who make up the nation? How can we say that a country is a global world leader without looking at the people that constitute it? Just because a nation delivers foreign aid to countries in need doesn’t mean that all Australians respect cultural diversity and warrant being called global citizens. Perhaps we should focus on using education to instill cultural awareness in each citizen so that Australia can be a true ‘global citizen’ – one made up of a population of global citizens.

I have an issue with the article “Training Future Members of the World With an Understanding of Global Citizenship”. The Oxfam definition of global citizenship seems to suggest that only wealthier societies can become global citizens because these are the societies receiving education about the world and the issues going on. In other words, the definition only caters to the people who are financially able to help versus those who may be global citizens in other regards but lack the money to afford education. I think this is the wrong way to define global citizenship. Yes, I think education is a key component of global citizenship like I mentioned previously and we should work to educate the poor about the world but even without education, I believe they could still be global citizens.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Kids and divided loyalties

I agree with the previous viewpoints regarding the unsettling nature of seeing children advocating death. This discussion reminds me of studying African child soldiers. If, as a child, a boy is taken by rebels, drugged and brought up as a rebel himself, is he to blame for the horrendous crimes he has committed? This highlights a problem with loyalty – is there such thing as right or wrong loyalty in the case of a child who is only acting to support those they look up to? In the previous example, the boy would have done what he was told in order to survive, and because children are so easily influenced, he would have grown up with the same values as the rebels around him. However, this same boy would have been loyal to completely different beliefs had he never been taken by rebels.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that no, it’s not acceptable to place a sign in a child’s hand to promote killing, but the situation is complicated by the fact that the people who support the child are supporting their own beliefs and don’t necessarily feel they are doing anything wrong. Perhaps they even think they are being globally just by supporting what they believe in.

I think the whole issue boils down to the difference between the Western vs. Other views. Different cultures have different beliefs, influencing where loyalty lies. Like Bethany suggests, perhaps the best way to deal with cultural differences is to understand perceived threats – maybe this is the answer to dealing with exploitation of innocent children.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Globalization: The good or the bad?

I am seeing a common theme throughout the 3 waves of globalization; slavery. In the 1970s small and isolated communities were exposed to globalization and many didn’t survive due to larger powers overtaking them. Then in the 1850s slavery was once again a factor due to the rise of industrialization. Now with the increase in so-called ‘Americanization’ the US is seen as a dominant super-power with a grip on all other nations.

I have trouble understanding how the US is such a culturally diverse nation, but at the same time, controls the countries where these cultures arise – many of which are in great poverty and disadvantage (or slavery) as a consequence. Without slavery in the world - and by slavery an example could be Asian sweat shops - Americanization would be nothing because this current trend of globalization relies on maintaining a power difference between the rich and the poor in order to maintain the current economy. It does seem ridiculous and conflicting that this nation, so rich in cultural diversity, is basically helping to wipe out these very cultures in other parts of the world because they cannot afford to support themselves in relation to the rich ‘American standards’.

How can we be Global Citizens if we, as part of this wealthy, Western vision of the world, are contributing to the destruction of poorer parts of the globe? It seems to me to be an inevitable loophole because although we may not support globalization, we need to buy things in order to survive and the things we buy are all part of the industrial dilemma where the rich become richer and the poor become poorer.

At the same time, without globalization the disadvantaged countries would be even more disadvantaged because the industrialization that accompanies globalization does provide work for the poor, although the working conditions are usually horrific and inadequate.

So the question arises: Is globalization good or bad? It ruins the environment, makes the rich richer and the poor poorer, but it does provide jobs for the otherwise unemployable.

I honestly don’t have a good answer for this one…

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Reflections on April Carter: Nationalism vs. Global Citizenship

I would like to talk a little bit about the article Nationalism and Global Citizenship by April Carter. Firstly, I agree with the point she makes that some of the current conceptions of global citizenship are strongly rooted in early Western though, such as the political and moral standards associated with being a ‘decent citizen’.

As I read on, I found it interesting that April had differentiated between nationalism and global citizenship because I now see where she is coming from in setting both notions on opposite sides of the spectrum but at the same time, I suggest that perhaps the notion of nationalism is an indefinable and useless term. Maybe instead the spectrum should incorporate different levels of global citizenship, some of which do include certain aspects of nationalism.

In the article, it was mentioned that ideas of nationalism seem to create a term for a nation that may not actually be a “nation”. So for example, trying to claim that a nation is a place where there is a homogenous language structure is useless because there is no single place where this exists. I believe it’s useless to try and coin what nationalism is and I think it would make much more sense to say that the global world is a nation in itself where all citizens are global citizens - perhaps with some contributing more than others in regards to justice and morality. For example, the cosmopolitan understanding of global citizenship is based around taking responsibility for all conflict in the world and could be at the highest moral level of the spectrum.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

What is a Global Citizen?

I believe a global citizen is someone who respects cultural diversity and is aware of what is happening in the world, politically, economically, socially and environmentally. I do not believe that one necessarily needs to be well travelled in order to become a global citizen, as being aware of situations in the world and helping to facilitate change do not necessarily involve being in the place of change.

I think that a global citizen is someone who can make the most of the situation they are in. For example, if they were not able to travel to a country which needed help in order to give physical aid, they could look into alternate ways of helping such as giving donations or starting advocacy groups. These examples emphasize not only an understanding of world issues but also the desire to challenge injustice and make the world more sustainable, both of which are components of Oxfam’s definition of global citizenship.

I really liked the key message in Tanja Shulze’s description of global citizenship. She said that we should forget about the superficial things and rather work on our attitudes. If we do this, we can create a more equal, sustainable and peaceful world. Attitudes are a fundamental component of global citizenship because the way a person behaves towards any situation is a reflection of their attitude. A global citizen would have a positive and open attitude towards world issues and they would not allow lust for insignificant things to get in the way of this.