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Tony Grist

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Citizenship [Apr. 24th, 2018|10:33 am]
Tony Grist
 Ali Smith's Winter has several epigraphs- one of which (showing how up to date it is) is from Theresa May- something she said in a conference speech in 2016: "If you believe you're a citizen of the world, you're a citizen of nowhere."

Wrong but worth arguing with- or simply nonsense?

Nonsense of course.

Because we all have multiple loyalties- to entities both large and small. 

One simple example: if I were a Catholic (which I'm not) I would owe loyalty to a transnational organisation as well as to my country. In favourable circumstances those loyalties would be complementary and not in opposition. 

Anyone who has seen the pictures the first astronauts took of Earth from the vicinity of the Moon- (and that's most of us)-  knows what it is to be a citizen of the world. There's our planet- small and not big, suspended in the darkness- our home- and the heart goes out to it. But having that feeling doesn't cancel out our loyalty to the little bit of the planet where we happen to live. Armstrong and Aldrin and Collins didn't cease to be Americans because they'd seen the planet whole.

When I was a kid we used to write our addresses inside our school books- and the trick was to make them as long as possible. Mine went something like this:

Anthony John Grist
23 Croham Valley Rd
South Croydon
Surrey
England
Europe
World
Solar System
Milky Way
Universe

If I were doing that now- because I know more than I did in the 1950s- I'd add Multiverse to the list.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: matrixmann
2018-04-24 12:12 pm (UTC)
I do get an idea in which way this needs to be considered as "there's a point".
But not because I got a heart for that woman, it's because the stance was there long before to that topic.

If you're somebody who lives here and there and only settles down for a short while - much like globetrotter do, but also people whose biography consists of "worked in country X, country Y, country Z" -, then your home is nowhere.
Time to develop loyalty to a place? That time's totally missing...
People whose only concern of their life is free travel, because they have a lifestyle like this, those have been everywhere in the world, at merely the tourist attractions, but when it comes down to "Do they really know anything about these places?", then they might not even be able to speak the local language for a bit. They're caught up in their superficialities.
And that's what makes it out "if you believe you're a world citizen, you're a citizen of nowhere". Technically you've been everywhere and nowhere, even lived there, but what you keep yourself surrounded with is never developing too deep ties to the places, and perhaps even people, you've been at.
When that process would get started, you're always about to go somewhere else again.
And citizenship of anything has something to do with "I feel home here, I'm interested in this place, I want it to go on existing and not be harmed for no reasons".
Those "world citizens", when it comes down to that, are mostly nowhere to be found if the latter is the case. They run away anywhere on this planet and think from afar by going on protest marches or something like that their efforts for the place are done. If you'd ask them to defend a place with their body and gun, they couldn't be mobilized for that for nothing in this world.

...And that just is an interpretaion of this phrase that indeed is talking about something from the reality.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2018-04-24 12:30 pm (UTC)
I'm not altogether sure what May was talking about. I haven't read the entire speech, just that one line- which was appended to a novel.

I doubt that she was talking about rootless travellers- after all, there aren't that many of them- and they don't really impinge on Britain. I guess she was talking about people who embrace global issues- like conservation and climate change and mass migration- and try to think about them in terms of what's right for the planet and not just their country of origin. And, of course, May is someone who has committed herself to reducing migration into Britain to a trickle. Her political stance- if not her personal belief system- is xenophobic, bordering on racist.
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[User Picture]From: matrixmann
2018-04-24 01:04 pm (UTC)
Of course, Mrs. May DID mean something different by that... That's as easy like looking through an open door.

Well, the travel thing I may have a deeper connection with as that's a thing that is more a topic to younger people still than people who have settled down and build up a life.
When looking at the people my former life went to school with, them seems to be quite a bit into this. Into this "living here today, tomorrow there, and the world only waits for me".
My brain was never too much into this, but that maybe is because the means were missing (never was blessed with wealthy parents) and also, through language, I could also make the world accessable to me and that in a much different way than people do this which just "travel here and there".
"Language creates access." - that's how my brain learned it, more or less. And by gathering information early, you also get your image about the world "is it worth traveling everywhere?". Meaning: You also get to know about the dark spots all places have and that you can already experience as soon as you move out your own doorsteps. So, why spending money to experience this only in a different flavor? Can get that much cheaper...

Another thing that is with these people in my age, when they acquired the right school diploma, is: Working/living abroad or traveling for your job.
This sort of thing my brain also doesn't get because it also thinks about "much stress of getting integrated into a new invironment; when they fire you, you return home anyway (many do, when their life abroad fails), and when you turn old or inable to make a life through working, you've got your troubles of tracing down which state pension fund needs to pay you what".
Well, this topic arose at a time where my brain was already minded like "not doing everything only for a job, they don't ever ask me about my broken bones, even though I saved the firm's ass, when I'm of no use to them anymore". So that maybe has something to do with that I couldn't be won for that topic anymore.

Today my stance on this even is "already Germany is big enough to be worth a travel" because this country is so totally not homogenous. No need to travel far just to experience how different places and people can be...

Not even to speak: World travel needs an intact health. That's what these young people in my age like to forget and that's why they can also live like this. Their bones don't hurt, their senses don't fade already, and they got money to spend. If one of those things is missing in the calculation, it can break the whole chain. For me - more than only the case in one point of that.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2018-04-24 04:50 pm (UTC)
I've travelled a bit, holidays and such. I did a term at a University in Switzerland and a couple of short term work placements in the USA. That's a long time ago now.

I haven't travelled that much recently. Like you I'm very much into exploring my own country.
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[User Picture]From: matrixmann
2018-04-25 07:48 am (UTC)
Compared with demands of today, I think this would be considered as "almost nothing"...
I don't think I like this modern obligation to have travel and work everywhere in the world.
Not just because it's a thing of "how much wealth have you been born with?", but also, in a world of growing mental problems, it's also something that contradicts itself with that.
If you're mentally stable and well-rooted to the ground, then you can do all this, you won't sit there lonely in some hotel room or shabby apartment and gobble down bottles of booze or your anxiety medication because you're deeply unhappy with sitting where you are.
But, if you've already had mental problems at the place that you came from - some already make it impossible themselves to do such a lifestyle, and the other half of them belongs to the contingent of mental problems which just come to haunt you wherever you are.
In that point, you can say, expecting that from people to live like this, it's even a real existence of privilege.
Because - poor people can't travel and work everywhere in the world, and people with mental issues can't because they're already deeply insecure at the place they've lived before, and they didn't even get this insecurity voluntarily. For them, this expected lifestyle - that is even often linked with an attitude of being fully "open-minded" - actually is a burden because they lack the resources to really live up to it, and this is some state of things that is the very linguistic definition of the term "privilege".
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2018-04-25 10:28 am (UTC)
If you're from a privileged background it's called "travel". If you're not from a privileged background it's called "migration".
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[User Picture]From: matrixmann
2018-04-25 11:36 am (UTC)
Not when you're from a country which is considered "rich" throughout the world... Then it's considered "a self-evidence in modern work life, keeping up with the times".
Who can't "keep up with the times" is considered either lazy, dumb or "always swimming against the tide".
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2018-04-25 03:55 pm (UTC)
Josephine Tey called out that practice of writing long addresses in school books in describing one of her characters in The Daughter of Time. Yeah, with me everything comes back to Richard III or Kipling. Or Reginald Farrer.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2018-04-25 05:44 pm (UTC)
I think every British school child of a certain vintage did it. For all I know it may still go on.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2018-05-03 08:15 pm (UTC)
The Daughter of Time was written in 1951 or thereabouts.
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