"As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise...."
- The Earth Charter
We are all inhabitants of Earth. We share this planet with millions of other species and billions of other human beings. What does it mean to be not merely an inhabitant but a citizen of this one Earth community? In particular, what does it mean for a citizen of the richest and most powerful nation on earth to be a responsible global citizen? Why does it matter even to ask these questions?
As the Earth Charter makes clear, the world is interdependent as never before. We can no longer separate the rights of one people from the responsibilities of another, the economic strength of one region from the ecological health of another, the flourishing of one nation from the well-being of all.
What does global citizenship ask of us?
1. We are asked to recognize the many ways in which our lives are intertwined with one another's and with all of life. Just as a healthy individual knows that she relies on others for her well-being, so also does a healthy society rest on recognition of the ways in which its members are stronger because they are part of a larger whole that both forms and is formed by them. And we know that we depend as well on the health of our natural environment and the flourishing of all species that are part of the whole Earth community.2. At the same time, we are called to recognize the vital and life-bearing importance of the geographic and cultural place that we call home. For just as we acknowledge the larger systems of which we are a part, so is it essential to see and know intimately the particular people, plants, animals, and other life forms that share the place we love. We affirm and respect this love and power of place for all peoples.
LARRY PARKS DALOZ serves as Associate Director of the Whidbey Institute and is the award-winning author of Mentor: Guiding the Journey of Adult Learners and co-authored with his wife, Sharon Daloz Parks, and Cheryl and Jim Keen, the book Common Fire: Leading Lives of Commitment in a Complex World. A board member of The Krista Foundation and an amateur naturalist, he is presently writing about the attributes and practices required for bioregional citizenship, a commitment to living responsibly in one's natural environment.