Most people in the world generally think of themselves as citizens of a particular country. There is of course a legal aspect of it but in addition there is also a strong emotional aspect in terms of their commitment to the safety and well-being of their country.
This is perhaps the most common identity for most people and it exists, apart from legal aspects, because most people are brought up with such feelings. Legal aspects further strengthen this feeling, all the more when these also bring certain important entitlements.
Apart from this national identity, people may have also varying identities of region, continent, province, caste, ethnicity, religion with or without legal aspects.
However there are increasing reasons why people should grow up with the identity of world citizens, committed to the well-being and safety of the entire world.
A simple value of such an identity can be – I am a citizen of the world/of planet earth who believes in the well-being and safety of this entire world, all its living beings and natural systems.
If an entire generation is brought up in this way, with this understanding and belief, then very significant changes to avoid the prevailing big problems and creating a safer and happier world can be made within a decade or two.
One reason why such an identity (and supporting value system) is needed is that from every point of view this is more rational.
There is no better way of avoiding war and massive military expenditure than to have such an identity and supporting value system.
On the basis of this understanding we can say that such an identity should have always existed in some form, and should have been strengthened around the time when a clear understanding of world geography had emerged among most people.
At the same time it should also be emphasized that in recent decades the need for such an identity has been increasing more than ever before due to certain factors.
Firstly, there is the emergence of weapons of mass destruction due to which war now has the capacity to destroy the entire world in a very short time. Secondly, there is the emergence of several environmental threats capable of badly disrupting the basic life-nurturing conditions of planet earth.
Hence while the concept of world citizenship (and supporting values) was always needed, it is now needed more than ever before.
However this concept can best progress in a world based on equality, justice and democracy. Hence a much stronger commitment to justice, equality and democracy is needed.
The spread of the concept of world citizenship does not mean that people have to give up their other identities. However the bigger and more important identity should be that of world citizenship.
Bharat Dogra is a freelance journalist who has been involved with several social movements and initiatives.