To feel good, this is what you do: you love your family and friends, and you try to do it better than most. You get educated so that you can contribute better to the planet than those that came before. You live with passion and dedication. You might have a beer or eat a glorious meal. You go hiking or skiing or running, all to increase your resolve so that you can be a better contributor. Me too……when something like what happened in Boston occurs, you have to wonder if any of us are really doing it right. And while I know that there is more good than evil, I still must reflect when the evil is winning. On all levels-not just with Boston. Maybe that isn’t comfortable, but at least it’s honest.
I’ve always been interested in human rights and peace education, but I can’t say that I’ve been the global activist that my gut always wants me to be. Just a few years ago, it led me to Spain, where I traveled some for pleasure, and some to attend the International Institute on Peace Education in the northern Basque region. There, I was with all kinds of amazing international educators, activists, and non-profits. One night, we were all sitting around discussing the current situation in Palestine with a fellow participant who was and still is very involved with the International Solidarity Movement. If you don’t know, ISM is a Palestinian-led movement dedicated to resisting the Israeli occupation using non-violent strategies.
As the only American in this circle at that moment, I was targeted by this person that I respect when he asked if I would move to Palestine to commit to that mission. After moving my eyes side to side, and in that moment knowing that my honest answer would not be satisfactory, I said with severe hesitancy….maybe. And he knew what I meant: I would not give up my life for that cause. Regardless of my knowledge on the situation, and the absolute understanding that it will take international participants to make a serious difference, I couldn’t say that I would commit. Of course, he half laughed-smiled at me when I answered, raising his voice as he said, “I wouldn’t count on it.” In that moment, I was just another American. Like with many things, there is a continuum and spectrum when it comes to activism and that question told me exactly where I was at.
As an American, I’m taught to be really shocked and upset when violence occurs on my homeland. Shocked? No. Upset? Ok, here you go: yes, Boston sucked. I’m not trying to diminish the seriousness of what happened; however, bombs go off on OUR planet on a daily basis, all over the place. The fact of the matter is that violence has been used to “solve” human problems from the beginning, and even though you could considerably argue that is an ineffective strategy, we continue to blow each other up. Mind you, in a debate, we could cite maybe a couple of examples where violence was used effectively to end something that was out of control, but in the end, that is due to us letting the violence take place in the first place. In the neighborhoods. In the communities.
One of my heroes, Eleanor Roosevelt, once said, “Human Rights begin in small places.” The flip side of that thinking is that the lack of them do as well.
But, if we want change, we can’t just live in the bubble of our homes. We can’t just worry about our neighborhood. We can’t just worry about our community. We can’t just worry about our nation. We have to realize that all of the levels are connected. If we want to improve education, we can’t just be talking within our borders; we need to be having discussions with the leading educators of our world. We have to consider all of the levels, and how they interact with one another. The lens of the global perspective means to think like global citizens. To be global citizens, on every level. WE.
And while that is so very exhausting to honestly consider, it is the truth. To minimize that pressure, we do what we can. We do what we are ready for.
All I am asking for is a broader perspective. No one in Boston deserved that violence, but there was violence that same day in Somalia that got little to no media coverage. Is the U.S. involvement innocent there? The fact of the matter is that the U.S. is a leading terrorist state on this planet and even though we might not have the unified power to change that tomorrow, we can speak in many ways. We can use our voices to respond to things we don’t agree with. We can give to causes that matter to the planet as a whole. When we spend our money, we can try to know where it is actually going. Do you consider what corporations your money is supporting? With dollars, try to be as local as possible, and when you can’t be, consider who and what you’re supporting. That act alone is one trait of being a global citizen.
None of us are perfect, but we can try harder. The vision, “Think Globally, Act Locally” isn’t just a bumper sticker. If we actually do that, it will work and by doing that reflectively, we are at a level of global citizenship.
Noam Chomsky once said, ” Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it.”
Thanks for listening!