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Citizenship

Global Citizens Tell Theresa May What Being a Citizen of the World Really Means

In her closing speech to the Conservative Party Conference, Theresa May declared: 

“If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word ‘citizenship’ means.”

Her words triggered a wave of responses as people across the country rejected her demand to choose between a national identity and a global identity, defending their position as a #proudcitizenoftheworld. 

Read More: In Defence of Global Citizensip — A Response to Theresa May

In response, we asked Global Citizens to send a personal message to Theresa May, explaining what the term means to them. In less than a week, we received over 500 messages defending and celebrating what it means to be a citizen of the world.

Here’s what you had to say when we asked: “Why are you proud to be a Global Citizen?” 

"I was born in England. I could have been born anywhere. I can only have been born on this planet. That alone makes me a Global Citizen. "

"Nationalism, by definition, divides into us versus them, the kind of thinking that has inflicted devastating wars on humanity over millennia. In so connected a world, the appeal to nationalism is not only nostalgic, it is profoundly unrealistic."

"Both my parents were refugees and had direct experience of what happens when a government tries to identify who is allowed to be a citizen and who isn't. I am British by birth, and feel like I belong in this country, but have no roots here, or anywhere else. If we go back far enough, most people living in these islands arrived from somewhere else. Surely what matters is how we live, and whether we try and make a difference to our community, wherever we reside…"

"The British Diaspora is spread across the whole globe. Some of our ancestors did wonderful things; some did bad things. What they did changed the world and what we each do continues to impact on the world."

"It’s not just about me! "

"National identity is vital, but today's world is calling for us to also have a global conscience and feel responsible for each other, in order to solve the challenging issues our planet and its inhabitants are facing."

"This is not the time to retreat to the shires, to a past that can never be reclaimed, and it is not the time to shut our hearts or our borders."

"Our planet is so small. Everything we do to the earth will have repercussions. Innocent people suffer along with the greedy and the guilty. I am a Global Citizen because we are all needed, working as one, to preserve the wonders of this world. Global warming knows no boundaries. We cannot stick our heads in the sand. We know what damage we are doing; it can never be undone."

"Because the world is bigger, more rich, more diverse, more interesting than any one country. Because my nationality and citizenship are an accident of birth. Because being British is as much about the shame of exploitation of those weaker, poorer, and less powerful as it is about 'greatness.' I love Britain and love living here and have worked all my life to make it better. But I love other places, too. I want the whole world, not just a tiny, rainy, SMALL part of it! "

"I want to live in a multicultural Britain. We would be so dull without our neighbours."

Dear Ms May. While I commend your views on citizenship, I disagree with your sentiments regarding global citizenship. We need to look around us, see our space and places beyond. We are responsible for here and there. 

"I am proud to be a Global Citizen because we all share a common humanity. As soon as we treat others in an inhumane way, we are denying our own humanity."

"I am British, with a Scottish father, a Belgian mother, a West African husband (now British), a Norwegian daughter-in-law and a Singaporean-Chinese daughter-in-law. I think we're all citizens of the world."

"It was purely by chance that I was born in the UK; it was an absolute certainty that I was born as a member of the global community."

"I'm proud to be a Bristolian, but that doesn't mean I can't be proud to be citizen of the UK. In the same way being a proud citizen of the UK doesn't preclude me from being a proud Global Citizen. To limit your identity, to limit your citizenship, is to limit your sense of duty to the rest of humanity with whom we all share a bond. I believe that focusing exclusively on local affairs is short-sighted, as our future as a species lies in global cooperation, not antagonism or isolationism."

"We are all connected. What happens on Planet Earth concerns me. If you are not a citizen of earth, please go back to your planet of origin."

"I love being one in 7 billion who, because of our differences and our similarities can come together in support and defence of each other and the rest of our planet. Even if individually we are poor and inconsequential, together we have a strong voice. It feels like holding the baton in a relay race."

"Humans beings are both 'global' & 'local' citizens. More than ever in the history of the planet we must work together."


All responses have been kept anonymous.