what does it mean to be a Citizen of the World?

You may have seen some recent photos of me at my New Zealand citizenship ceremony. It’s an interesting place to be, to choose a country. Quite a privilege & a responsibility. Apparently even moreso in NZ since the rights of permanent residents are commensurate with what most countries only bestow on their citizens, like the right to vote. So it seems that when people choose to become a citizen of NZ it is a personal choice of alignment & perhaps even of what they have to give the country, versus what they have to gain.

Quite honestly I didn’t know all of this until the ceremony & for me it was something that evolved-into-being more than something I actively pursued. It could have even happened a couple years sooner if I’d had the extra $500 for the application fee! I feel as though I am taking in the meaning of all this on the opposite side of where others might–after instead of before. And it’s really bringing up some intriguing questions.  What DOES it mean to be a citizen of a country?

A few folks tossed the phrase “citizen of the world” at me &, as I usually do when I don’t understand something, I looked up the words. Citizen means to be a city-dweller–you can see that in the similarity of the words. That didn’t really give me a sense of the overall phrase so I Googled it & came across this site–The World Government of World Citizens. Established in 1953 by a man named Garry Davis who was a bombardier in WWII. My father’s father was the same–a colonel in the air force who led 44 missions dropping bombs on folks. It’s no wonder he drank, that being the 1950’s form of psychotherapy & coping with what we now call PTSD. So interesting that two men can have similar experiences & yet come out with such dissimilar coping mechanisms. My father had far more of the Garry Davis version of response & coping in him than his father, who virtually forced him to join the military during the Vietnam era.

My parents were actively protesting the war & yet under the duress my father felt from his father & older brother (apparently they beat him up), he enlisted under the condition he wouldn’t have to kill anyone. Since he’d been quite a math & physics whiz–a type of mind I apparently did not inherit!–he was promptly directed into calculating missile trajectories. Whut?

You don’t have to kill anyone, not directly at least. Just in masses, from a safe distance.

He went AWOL. Sounds so dramatic to say my folks were on the lam from the law, but I imagine it was pretty scary. They joined a conscientious objector’s community in Nova Scotia where my mother’s mother happened to have a home. But still, they had no money & lived on oatmeal, bread baked in a pail over an open fire, sea anemones collected from the coast, & vegetables they grew in a swimming pool converted into a sheltered garden, for a year.

My mother was even imprisoned for 4 days at the border simply out of suspicion–she was driving a VW bus, looked like the hippie she was & had a ceremonial pipe with her that had never been used. They never found any drugs. Imagine being held in custody for 4 days with no way of reaching your husband. Her conservative, unapproving father obviously loved her very much because he disapproved of her choices (my parents were second cousins as well as protestors & hippies), yet he bailed her out. I love the image of her knitting a red wool vest for my father while languishing in jail.

I guess I bring up that story because this exploration of patriotism seems to be in my blood. I reckon it’s in everyone’s blood. We’ve all had ancestors who migrated, fought wars over land, died for confusing political causes.

So this idea that we can choose to stop all that is deeply intriguing. It’s really the essence of earthwidetribe–that we are all one species on one planet. Birds don’t carry passports! Whales don’t have to clear customs!

As long as there are sovereign nations possessing great power, war is inevitable. There is no salvation for civilization, or even the human race, other than the creation of a world government.

– Albert Einstein

The pledge of allegiance to the WGWC, therefore, confirms that

“A World Citizen is a human being who lives intellectually, morally and physically in the present. A World Citizen accepts the dynamic fact that the planetary human community is interdependent and whole, that humankind is essentially one. A World Citizen is a peaceful and peacemaking individual, both in daily life and contacts with others. As a global person, a World Citizen relates directly to humankind and to all fellow humans spontaneously, generously and openly. Mutual trust is basic to his/her lifestyle. Politically, a World Citizen accepts a sanctioning institution of representative government, expressing the general and individual sovereign will in order to establish and maintain a system of just and equitable world law with appropriate legislative, judiciary and enforcement bodies. A World Citizen makes this world a better place to live in harmoniously by studying and respecting the viewpoints of fellow citizens from anywhere in the world.”

For now, I’m going to leave you with those thoughts & with this, more comedic anecdote from my ceremony (which you may have already seen on good ol’ Facebook).

New Zealand Citizenship Ceremony with the deputy mayor of Wellington.
1st photo he compliments my “bling” but wait’ll you see the Run DMC gold he’s displayin’!

Citizenship Ceremony at Te Papa Soundings Theatre Deputy Mayor Justin Lester
Citizenship Ceremony at Te Papa Soundings Theatre Deputy Mayor Justin Lester
you can see the polite, slightly confused, look on my face

2nd photo he asks me “Where’s Prince William?”

I think, “F@*K!, I don’t know the whereabouts of the Royal Family! This is the final test! He’s not going to give me that feckin’ piece of paper until I tell him where Prince William is in the world right now…

wait, he’s referring to the paper & saying he’s never been there. I look down & see that they’ve listed my birthplace by county, without the city or state, so it says “Prince William, USA”

AH-ha! Virginia, I answer.  And now that paper is MINE!!! Muah-ah-ah!

3rd photo–looks like I’ve got my hand on his butt…
4th photo, Victory–I finally have that piece of paper, but can anyone tell me what it all means?








countries, borders, passports…what does it all mean anyway?



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2 thoughts on “what does it mean to be a Citizen of the World?”

  1. Sweet and Congrats. <3 Where is Prince William anyway??? 🙂 I have a looooonnnng way to go now if I ever want to visit with you. NZ has been on my list for a while. Ha.

    1. Ha ha! No clue.
      It’s not so far, really! I find the flight from California to NZ somehow easier than East coast to West coast USA. It’s one fell swoop–a few movies, a few meals, a few naps, & few drinks (of whatever) and you’re there.

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