Is There a Place in America for a Global Citizen?

IN TANZANIA

One of my future homes.

I have often grappled with the notion of loyalty especially in the current situation here in America where one’s identity has become the crux of the country’s identity in a collective sense. My identity as an American as perceived by the outsiders has always been at odds with how I see myself as an American. I am a member of a country which happens to be America but identity-wise, I’m global in scope.

I think in this day and age, we owe it to ourselves to push the boundaries. I owe it to myself to avoid narrowly placing my identity within the confines of “America.” First and foremost, I was born in the Philippines and therefore by default my ethnicity dictates that I act culturally as Filipina. I can’t help it, after all. I will make sure you eat when you’re a visitor in my home. I will make sure you enjoy singing as much as I do no matter how outdated and cheesy Karaoke can get. I will express my emotions freely and honestly, more often than you’re used to. That’s my culture and the identity that comes with being Filipina.

Then there’s the passion for traveling to every corner of the world. After venturing into more than 70 countries to date, my identity to me has been shaken to the core over the past decades. To me, traveling to so many countries of varied cultures and religions opened my mind to the universal facts of life — we are all connected.

We are one and the same.

This thought challenges the notion of loyalty in my head. I am now a version of the many disloyal Americans that you will come across — one who does not pledge allegiance to the narrowly defined identity that the current administration wishes to impose on all of us. Given the choice right now, I will opt to leave the country without any hesitation to simply be who I wish to be — a global citizen who’s loyal only to the universal laws of life —

A global citizen who believes in the notion of humanity regardless of race, background or creed and one that is not limited by nationality or physical boundaries.

But I can assure you there are plenty of my kind around us, most of whom have fled the confines of societal expectations, and many of whom have carved a niche for themselves in one way or another, discreetly or openly.

In my case, I just happen to take a major liking to mountain trekking because akin to being a global citizen, mountain trekking does not favor any race, gender or background. Mountain trekking is a global citizen in its purest sense. It is the endeavor that fits the philosophy of a person who only craves to live a life that is authentically his or hers.

If we have to be defined by others via our identities, then tell me, whose life are you living? Yours or someone else’s? We cannot succumb to the expectations of others. We only should surrender to our own set of parameters as humans devoid of affiliations to anyone or anything. This is what it means to be a global citizen — at least in my world.

Becoming a global citizen comes with a price. It creates confusion on a constant basis although most of the time the dilemma is manageable at a human level. Being a global citizen makes you more vulnerable and receptive to the suffering of others because you realize there is no such thing as US versus THEM. There’s only ALL OF US. When you reach that level of understanding, you realize divisions were merely lies told by those in power or those who suffer from ego-driven hunger for world domination. In fact, in essence, we are here to love, and yet we don’t because we have overlooked the importance of exploring within ourselves in lieu of constantly craving for external validation.

I’m not going to deny the impositions of the media and the harrowing pressures of having to be a “loyal” American as defined by those who are so-called privileged. Every news we hear, read or watch is likely to create divisions in our minds, and eventually in our daily lives. When we see the news on the terrorism occurring in America and beyond, our psyche without deliberate efforts on our end can easily align with the media’s mantra of US V. THEM. We see a minority of a Muslim faith portrayed in the usual predicament on the news and without even consciously knowing we succumb to the prejudices that the media is imposing upon us about that specific ethnic or religious group. If we don’t consciously refocus our attention and challenge our own ideals, we fall prey to a version of American patriotism and loyalty that is rather misguided and malicious. This is why traveling and pushing beyond the physical confines of our world are more critical now than ever before.

As global citizens, we choose to cast our nets widely to love and accept others beyond nationalities and physical borders. We took a step forward, not backwards. Those who remain loyal to the confines of their world only need to step out of that unlocked exit door — a door in our minds that has always been unlocked for a reason. But, the ultimate question is this - will you step out?

As global citizens, will America accept the open-mindedness that we hold? Perhaps not. Either way, we made a conscious choice to live in our own self-defined home, that is, within ourselves and the entire universe.

In any case, we’re forever home.

As published on Medium.

Marinel DeJesus3 Comments