CITIZEN OF THE WORLD
In order to keep my eyeballs off the computer screen, I have been listening to Hugh Hewitt clips. But that's a bad idea because it just makes me come up with stuff I want to blog about.
I was listening to Dean Barnett and James Lileks talk about Obama's "citizen of the world" line.
I now puff my chest up and say that I was at the vanguard of this line of thought, having blogged about it two and a half years ago. (And getting exactly zero comments on the post, she adds, lest you think she really does hold herself in such esteem.)
Some commenter said yesterday that America's far left is Europe's moderate. I thought of that today in passing while reading Broca's Brain. I think people look at the world quite differently depending on how they classify themselves. If you think of yourself as an American, you see the world differently than if you think of yourself as a Global Citizen, as it seems most Europeans do. And if you think of yourself as a citizen of the universe, as Sagan does, you look at issues completely differently. Thus when Sagan talks of global warming, he thinks all humans should work together to prevent Earth's habitat from being like Mars. When an American talks about it, he typically thinks about what is best for the US first. I think the label you give yourself says a lot about how you deal with The Issues.
I agree with Lileks that when Obama calls himself "a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world," the emphasis is on the latter. And that it lacks any real sort of meaning and downplays his Americanness.
Really, there's nothing that turns me off quite as fast as when someone downplays his Americanness.
I am not a Citizen of the World. I live on this planet, but I am an American citizen. I don't really recognize this entity that Obama calls "the world," some sort of collective of human beings who all want the same things: peace, love, and kumbaya. I don't think that exists. I believe that human life patterns the Animal Planet channel, where each species vies for position and does what it takes to stay alive and get ahead. We accept that in the animal kingdom, but for some reason we think humans should all want to share and be humble. I wish we could accurately see human beings the way we accurately see marine life during Shark Week.
I am thankful to be a citizen of the greatest country on this planet. I wish Obama were too, instead of relegating it to second fiddle behind meaningless "We Are the World" tripe.
Posted by: Sarah at
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This is where we completely disagree. I am a citizen of the world, and very fortunate to be an American citizen, too. And even MORE fortunate to be a Southerner.
Now get away from your computer screen!
Posted by: Sis B at July 28, 2008 07:36 AM (/2ehL)
I will also respectfully disagree. When I say I am a citizen of the world that does not mean it plays down my pride for being an American. What it means for me is that I enjoy visiting other countries, and the way I like to do that is to immerse myself and/or embrace the culture as much as I can. I want to know the people and the country as more than just a tourist who stays in luxury resorts (although that is QUITE nice on occassion). I also regard people's rights to live and practice their religion in a way they see fit as long as it doesn't harm other people. Now, that's obviously a very general statement so don't jump on it. Its a simple sentence for a complicated idea. The part about religion is where my husband and I disagree intensely and its just a conversation we can't have.
That doesn't mean that I don't regard people for what they are or countries for that they are. I tend to agree with the realist theory of international politics - every state does what is in it's own best interest. We will never see a time without conflict. We will never see a megapower, in other words, one organization or person leading the countries of the world. And frankly I don't want to see that. Its hard enough to keep Americans happy, God knows what it would take to keep every nation in the world happy.
Maybe this is an argument of semantics or different understandings of a pretty general phrase.
Posted by: Sara at July 28, 2008 09:24 AM (SZeN8)
Sara, I think maybe we are reading the phrase differently. I am not sure I understand at all what you mean about religion, because it seems to me that you are expecting me to be intolerant of various religions, a vibe I really don't think I've given off anywhere on this blog. But as to the other point, I have lived in three different countries, speak two other languages (including the one Obama says we have to speak in order not to be boorish), etc, but that's not what I thought he meant. I thought he was appealing to a Global Community that needs to Work Together for Hope and Change. As in some sort of body of communal values and ideals that the whole world shares. I personally don't think that exists.
And Sis B, you are just a hippie. HAHAHA.
Posted by: Sarah at July 28, 2008 10:44 AM (TWet1)
First, I never insinutate or accuse. If I was ever thinking you were religiously intolerant I would have come out and said so. Or likely, since that is rude, counter productive and a bit hypocritical in and of itself I would have said nothing. Big believer in "if you don't have something nice to say". I was merely giving my top general ideas of what I believe to define that phrase. I also made the point to say "in a way they see fit as long as it doesn't harm other people" because of extrmists who are ruining their own countries and would love to destroy others.
As to your second comment, I believe I addressed that in saying that I believe in the Realist Theory. I assume you know what I was referring to, but if not let me know and I will explain farther. Maybe I should have been more clear with saying directly that I am in agreement with you that such a compromise or as you said " As in some sort of body of communal values and ideals that the whole world shares. I personally don't think that exists." I agree. So there.
None of that was accusations, and yes, I know that like me you've lived around the world and speak different languages. It is also a passion of mine. I certainly wasn't belittling you or calling you simple. Just explaining my point of view.
As far as Obama goes, which was your point afterall, I believe he might be trying to only clear up many a conservative's fear that he would ignore international relations in the same way Clinton did. I know that my father definitely thinks as much. I think his concern is not for a Global Community to get together and work together, but to try and restore trust in America and improve international relations. Any president would be wise to try and at least attain more allies to face a common enemy. It is my guess that that's the point he's trying to make.
Although, in my opinion and world tour is a bit presumptuous. It has put a bit of a sour taste in my mouth much the way Hillary assuming she'd get the nomination did. At this time, it is about convincing Americans he is the right man for the job, not the rest of the world.
Posted by: Sara at July 28, 2008 11:39 AM (SZeN8)
I just wanted to say that I really like the analogy of human life patterning the Animal Planet channel. I have thought something to that effect for a while now, and it seems a little strange to me that some people believe that all humans have some innate selflessness that makes them want to work for the benefit of the entire world, whether or not it benefits their own species/nationality/tribe, etc.
I think that on the whole, humans tend to be fairly selfish creatures, and it will be eternally impossible to convince them all to work for the good of the world when it means giving up their own personal/national goals and comforts. I think that believing in the possibility of a united world of peace and harmony is about as realistic as believing in the tooth fairy.
That said, I agree with Sara's last 2 paragraphs in her comment above. I think he's trying to say that he cares about diplomacy, etc., but I really don't think that this was the right time to do it, or the right way. It just makes him look (a) cocky and presumptive, as if he's already won, (b) as if his priorities are in the wrong order and he cares more about the international community than America, and (c) it does sort of give the impression that he's running for Europe's vote as much as for our own. That adds to the presumption bit, and makes me just the slightest bit uncomfortable as to his aspirations for leadership. In another day and age, Obama's vast ambition might have made him an imperialist or a dictator. In this day and age, he's a globalist.
Posted by: Emily at July 29, 2008 08:23 AM (jAos7)
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