FW: Education for World Citizens
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Instructor English/Common Course
Vocational Training Institute
Circular Road Rasool Nagar
Subject: Education for World Citizens
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2008 14:16:51 -0500
Education for World Citizens
Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.
International Association of Educators for World Peace
Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education,
Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament
Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University
Education is derived from two Latin words: e (out of) and duco (lead). Hence, education is a process that is meant to lead people hopefully from ignorance into knowledge, from darkness into light, and from confusion into clarity of mind. However, people could be led the other way round. It all depends on who is the educator and on the willingness people have to see things genuinely into true perspective.
Seneca’s Educational Philosophy
In the early first century A.D., Roman philosopher Seneca was very much concerned with the welfare of all people. He believed that a good education may eventually bring joy, comfort and satisfaction to every human being without exception. He was convinced that this was possible through a good education, which enables everyone to view the entire world and say, as he stressed: “Omnis orbs terrarium patria mea est – The whole world is my native land.”
To this end, Seneca stated that a true and meaningful education is one that would prove to be beneficial to everyone across every continent. Needless to say, if the entire world is, indeed, my own native land then I must be a genuine world citizen. Since then, this philosophy of education has been implemented merely on a few regional areas but never on a global scale.
A recent example of this is the European Union where people of various countries in Western Europe could travel to other countries without a passport. They could also work anywhere they want in these nations like each one of them was just one’s native land. However, for the past 2,000 years, Seneca’s concept of education for world citizens was never put into operation.
As a matter of fact, it was never taken seriously on a global scale, which explains why we have had, and we are still having, so many conflicts, struggles and wars, where everyone has been a loser and no one a winner. We may begin to understand why we have so many nations where we find people living still in abject poverty, deprived of all the basic essentials of life.
In order to understand where we stand with each other at this stage of history, we need to bring to our mind the words which former US President Dwight Eisenhower told the US Congress in his farewell address. He reminded them saying: “Remember that all people of all nations want peace, only their government wants war.” This good and peace-oriented US President also revealed great concern about the weapons industry and the military industrial complex, which he viewed as “two dangerous elements that, unless brought under control, may serve as the destruction of civilization the way we know it today.”
Evaluation of our Priorities
Over the next 50 years which followed, the words of this US President proved to be prophetic. Several nations, headed by the United States, emerged to become literally monsters of our earthly community. Such nations put the bulk of their money on the manufacture and sales of more and more weapons and the waging of more and more wars. As a result, the infrastructure of many of our cities has been destroyed with tens of thousands, amounting to millions, becoming homeless. As a consequence, these people have been also deprived of the necessities of life, which would include food and medicine.
Besides, millions end up being refugees living like discarded furniture for all practical purposes. To turn insult into injury, most government officials who have enriched themselves through the manufacture and sales of weapons and through the waging of wars, view these lethal weapons and disastrous actions as a “necessity to safeguard the lives of their people!” We need only one ounce of common sense to realize that people starve to death and die of manifold illnesses primarily because their respective governments do not really care about them.
Education for world citizens instills in us great love and respect not only for our relatives and friends but for all people around us and across the world. This kind of education enables us to feel responsible not just for the members of our immediate family but also for every single human being on earth. This type of education enables us to see all people in the entire world as members of one same body: humanity. If someone smashes one of our toes, our entire body will immediately enter into an agony of pain, not just the one smashed toe alone.
Most governments are somewhat suspicious of the idea of promoting an education for world citizens. The more belligerent countries identify this kind of education with peace, which is viewed as their enemy. Since they make plenty of money through the manufacture and sales of weapons and the promotion of wars, as explained earlier, they view peace as a threat to all that “blood” money they made and they are still making.
In fact, if we were to analyze carefully the foreign policies of belligerent nations, headed by the United States, when their government’s representatives visit governments of the poorest nations especially, they tend to offer them mostly weapons and military equipment. All that these nations need desperately is food for their hungry, medicine for their sick, and homes for their homeless. It seems quite obvious in many ways that those government officials, who try to sell or buy weapons and to assist in the waging of more wars, may be viewed with virtual certainly to be thoroughly corrupt.
Proper Exercise of Our Responsibilities
The New Webster Dictionary of the English Language describes criminal as “guilty of a crime, wicked, atrocious, villainous, and felonious.” When we procure elements, which lead to the destruction of the infrastructure of cities and entire nations, along with the merciless massacre of thousands and millions of innocent people, we certainly qualify to be viewed as criminals in the strict sense of the word. After all, we are fully responsible for the horrible and atrocious disaster of such a crime. Crimes of this nature would not have been possible if education for world citizens was fully in operation.
The Seneca approach to education on a global scale is still feasible, even though we would have to do plenty of home work to this end. As we already know, all the mess we have in this world originates mostly from a hand-full of people we have in the government who proceed to abuse their power with no remorse whatsoever. All we need to do is to prepare a future generation that is properly equipped to replace hatred with love and war with peace. Besides, we need to instill in our future generation the idea that the best gift we could give on earth is to enable people to live in peace with themselves and with others.
We also need to imbue the young generation especially with virtues such as prudence, meekness, patience, perseverance, kindness and detachment from the material things of this world. We need also to equip them with a philosophy that would view the spiritual and physical strength of people as a top priority. Like St. Catherine of Siena used to say: “Anima sana in corpora sano – A healthy mind is found in a healthy body.” When the mind is healthy, it will be able to put priorities where they belong, especially in relation to all human beings.
Since the concept of education for world citizens is vital to the survival of the human race as we know it today, we should not hesitate any longer to start implementing it in our classrooms. No permission or approval is ever required in life from anyone when it comes to doing something that is good and fully beneficial to all human beings around the world.
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