This World Citizen Letter is so simple and obvious that it should be unnecessary to write it or even to state it, but one still regularly hears the questions what is a world citizen, why is it neccessary to be one? And yet, without that - in millions - our world is doomed. Because without world citizens to act and work, we shall either destroy ourselves or be swallowed up in the destruction that we have been storing up for centurie.
We humans have come a long way since evolving from the proto human stock many millions of years ago and, apart from that primate base, we have collected all kinds of urges and instincts, some of them wholly useful, some dodgy and some downright dangerous. But we have carried many of the early useful capacities and instincts into later times when they have become difficult or suicidal because of changes in our environment.
After living in small tribes, either isolated or in so much space that control of nature could have almost wholly good effects for human survival and prosperity, we grew into larger agglomerations. In the earliest state, human solidarity for millions of years was certain to give advantages to its practitioners: working together to bring the natural world under control was an end almost in itself. True, the individuals who were driven by selfish genes had to be tamed to make tribal living harmonious. But outsiders could usually be dealt with similarly to the natural world, by controlling them.
But this meant using force not only against other animals but also against members of other tribes. So our inherited instincts became supplemented by our cultural patterns of dealing with neighbours, who had arrived as a result of population increase. This well-known historical process clearly proceeded from tribes to larger groups of various sorts, then to states and empires. But throughout we kept the basic instincts and attitudes to "our" own group and "the others".
To ensure the solidarity that enabled "our" group to survive we were constrained by leaders who became rulers, without which we would have not kept the determinatin to succeed against the "others", whose differences were often negligible and whose common humanity we had to deny or ignore. We are now too late to do either with any pretence of intelligent action but our leaders, despite fitful efforts to think about consequences, still carry on with their patterns of human suicide.
We are still living in the worst stage of this "measles of mankind" as Albert Einstein put it, when "our" gang is the nation-state. This disastrous legacy of medieval Europe has led to four world wars and has brought together all our threats to civilized life, which humanity has struggled for millenia to pefect, with occasional successes and potential. Unless we substitute for it the world citizenship that is available - we know what is needed and the path is before us - that civilization will perish.
So ... why become a world citizen - not necessarily explicitly, but in thought, word and deed? Because there is no alternative, if we wish our civilization, good and bad, to survive. We have a little time left to choose.
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