To Be a World Citizen or Not To Be…
I envy our writers who write about their agenda. I guess because of the rapid development of events and my inability to keep up, I tend to connect my own agenda to the general life in my articles. However, in this article, I would like to point on a phenomenon that has been discussed a lot in recent days, and that is not even limited to a certain period of time, but has existed for centuries. That is antisemitism, the biggest obstacle that prevents human beings from becoming people of the world through lack of love, hatred, polarization, violence and monstrosity!
I was born in Turkey, grew up in Istanbul until I was 10 years old, lived my youth in Israel until I was 16, then continued my life in Istanbul until I was 47 years old, where since then I have been living in Barcelona… Who am I? As a social identity, I am a woman, Turkish and Jewish by birth. Later on, I had different social identities such as teacher, educator, mother, mentor, etc. I can add many more to these. But the main identity I would define myself as is a “world citizen.” It is not just because I speak many languages, have traveled or lived in many parts of the world. It is because I think I have the perception, attitude, behavior and way of life of a citizen of the world.
What do you think a World citizen looks like? Is s/he a globally recognized and globally known? I think s/he is much more than that… He or she has servant leadership qualities, for example; values other members of society as much as valuing him or herself; values not only her own, but also those with different lives, backgrounds, roots and beliefs; believes that every living being has a perfect place and function in this universe; and if she can support and help them, she would do so voluntarily, passionately, lovingly and compassionately, with the principle of “for the good of the whole”. In short, being a world citizen is about living in a multicultural, multidimensional and integrated way with oneself and society. A true person of the world is someone who is empathetic, who has compassion for themselves and others, who has pure unconditional love for themselves and everyone, who is grateful for what they have and what they don’t have, and who chooses to experience a sense of enrichment by sharing what they have with others.
For example, can we say that Kanye West, who has recently attracted attention with his anti-Semitic rhetoric and statements, is a citizen of the world? Yes, we can say that he has a globalized identity, but I think it is not possible for him to be a world citizen because he lacks the discourse and behavior that would appeal to all the people of the world. How can he be, a unifying, inclusive and a loving world citizen, with his words that sow seeds of discord such as hatred, animosity or polarization, while hiding behind his mental health and instability?
Hate speech against certain segments of society has existed for centuries. Antisemitism is probably the most widespread. Many societies have emerged and disappeared throughout history, but interestingly, from pogroms to genocides, despite everything that it has gone through, the Jewish community has survived for centuries without disappearing. Could it be that the Jewish community, like a “scapegoat”, represents and reminds us of the brightness, sophistication and immortality of true love and compassion, by attracting hatred and violence in the darkness of lovelessness and inhumanity?
A Timeless Note from Mark Twain About the Jewish People, published in the year 1899, evokes this. Although one cannot hear tone of his words, I think it conveys or makes you feel very diverse emotions. I invite you to read the text and sincerely examine the emotions it creates in you:
“If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in the world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?” – Mark Twain
Which of the following emotions do you think his words convey? Admiration, envy, idolization? Amazement and curiosity? Envy and jealousy? Feeling powerful, mighty, superior and valuable? Empathy, compassion, love and gratitude? Or anger, shame, guilt? Maybe none of them, maybe all of them… One can feel all of them. It is directly related to where we come from, our background, the upbringing we have and the way we view life and people. Moreover, since all of these emotions are natural and human, it is only natural that we feel a few of them. But what is not natural -and even unacceptable, is how we express them, what we use them for, and what kind of actions and behaviors we push ourselves into.
For those who wish to explore and better understand these emotions, I recommend the 5-part Atlas of the Heart series on HBO Max by Psychologist and Industrial Psychologist Brené Brown. Emphasizing the role of emotions in our lives and the fact that they drive us, Brown is considered a pioneer in the field of emotions. Her words shared on her social media account in response to Kanye West’s anti-Semitic statements are unifying.
“I stand with my Jewish friends; I stand with the Jewish community; with love! Antisemitism is the epitome of lovelessness and dehumanization. You cannot love yourself or anyone else when you are in favor of lovelessness. Antisemitism in all its forms is violence. It erodes the elements that bind us as human beings.” – Brené Brown – 25 October 2022
In the last sentence… In order to move away from the phenomenon of lovelessness, hatred and violence and to be able to say “Never again!”, I invite all of us to become a world human being rather than a globally known human being and to master that path…
Love from Valencia…
October 28th, 2022
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