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Citizenship Status

June 15, 2016

What kind of citizen are you? Are you an Australian Citizen, perhaps a citizen of New Zealand or of Canada?

In a recent conversation, a lecturer asked me “What is your response when someone asks you about your citizenship?”

My response made her lift an eyebrow and wrinkle her forehead… I simply said, “Yes, I was born in New Zealand.  But I’m not just a New Zealand Citizen.”

If I say, “I am a New Zealander” or “I am an Australian” what does that mean?  As a person born in New Zealand I’ll admit shockingly that I’m not a fan of Rugby, I have a dairy allergy, I do not own 1000 Sheep – in many ways I don’t fit the status quo for being a ‘Kiwi’!

The undercurrent that runs like a raging torrent behind my statement: “I am not just a New Zealand Citizen” is my belief in not separating self from others by singling out my citizenship status.

In other words, I am not just a New Zealand Citizen; I am a World Citizen.

I believe with my whole heart that all people are equal, that all are world and global citizens. The fact that I have won the birthplace lottery should not entice me into thinking that I’m entitled to more than anyone else.

“In broad usage, the term global citizenship or world citizenship typically defines a person who places their identity with a "global community" above their identity as a citizen of a particular nation or place. The idea is that one’s identity transcends geography or political borders and that the planetary human community is interdependent and whole; humankind is essentially one.”

A wonderful Ted talk, “What does it mean to be a citizen of the world?” is well worth a watch.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the Olympics and love competition between countries; this should be fostered and developed. We have an abundance of rich cultural diversity between our World nations. There is beauty in diversity.

As a human race, a world, can’t we be bigger than citizenship division?

Governments have made decisions to close borders to ensure the masses are kept happy, to put at ease the fear of ‘they will take our jobs’.

But how about we look at that word ‘they’. Why are ‘they’ separate from us, what makes them less than us?  Does having a Syrian passport mean that its holder bleeds differently; don’t we all bleed red?

Perhaps on this World Refugee Day we need to remove citizenship status.

When you turn on the TV news and see Refugees stranded at borders, try not to think about what country they were born in. Look at their feet, think about where they have walked today, see their viewpoint, their need, and embrace their journey. ’They’ are world citizens too.

There is beauty in diversity and growth through embrace.

What kind of Citizen are you?

Jane Maisey