November 2, 2021- I came across a curious comment, made by a public official in another state, that people should seek “to be Americans, not Citizens of the World”. I can readily understand where this sentiment is leading, and from where it is derived.
In any debate about showing concern or rendering assistance to others, there are always those who confine their involvement to their immediate family; others, to their extended family; others, to their neighbourhood; outwardly it goes-to the community, the state, the region, to the nation and among the most divergent of thought, to the entire planet. Those who limit their largesse wrangle with those whose interests are wider in scope, and vice versa. Each feels the other is either too parochial or too expansive. In truth, there are people needed at every level.
It is much the same as in school: Some people will only finish a few years of high school; others will graduate; of those, some will go directly to work and others will enter an institution of higher education. Among those who earn a degree of some kind, some will go on to an advanced credential and others will go to work on the strength of their Associate’s Degree or Baccalaureate. None is inherently superior to the other. Each has a contribution to make to society.
The structure, so it appears, is comprised of energy flowing in both directions: Upward, from the family unit and downward, from humanity as an aggregate whole. Family is the foundation of society, followed by neighbourhood, community, state (province, prefecture, republic, etc.), nation, geographic region or continent, and world. No point along that progression can exist, ultimately, in opposition to the legitimate needs of the other points. Family does need to be on a firm footing, yet ultimately, all families live on the same planet-and each has to interact with other families. Each town or city needs to cooperate with others, as do subunits within nations and nations with one another.
Baha’u’llah espouses the practice of “a sane and intelligent patriotism”, while warning against the limitations of nationalism. In a family that is healthy, the measured thoughts and views of each member are considered-with the heads of each household making the final decisions. This process, ideally, will go up the chain and and the ethic of cooperation will only grow.
A grounded American will naturally seek to be a citizen of the world-because the needs of America, meshing with the needs of other nations, will be what draw out a peaceful planet.