Sunday 24 December 2017

Living as a Global Citizen

I would like to believe I am a global citizen. No, I have not renounced my Malaysian citizenship, I am still very much a Kelantanese Malaysian. Notwithstanding that, I had been to many places on this globe, for official duties and for pleasure. I have countless friends all over the world with different beliefs, culture and world views  Given where we are in terms of technology, I could still interact with them as if there is no boundary between us.

I suppose many other people on this planet share the same situation as mine. Our circle of influence goes beyond people who we can meet face to face in a single location. Many of us are connected to many people around the world for many reasons, business, blood lines, friendships, official duties, common interests and many other reasons. Some even have people on social media whom they have not ever met in person but are rather close to each other.

Hence, being global means one must have the ability to connect with diverse people in many parts of the world and able to appreciate our common interests and respect our differences. Sounds very simple, right? Yes, if one if willing to suspend judgment and able to articulate his viewpoints without insisting others to agree with him. People who want to win all the time and all they way may find it difficult to live with differing views, especially those positioned at the top end of societies where power distance is wide. In this sort of societies, truth comes only in one way, from the top.

One of the important skills in dealing with people with diverse views, culture and practices is the understanding of how the differences arise. For example, there are societies where religion is considered a private matter whereas for some other societies, their lives are anchored on and around religions. If this foundation is not appreciated, differing views may not be easily managed. Such fundamental differences could also happen within a society as well. This arises from the diversity of worldview due to education, culture and experiences. Those who go to international schools in Malaysia may think and act differently from those who are schooled at our national schools. This is a fact that we have to accept.

To make things worse, there are people who benefit when others disagree with each others. Politicians tends to take this approach to win votes although they may be claiming they are doing the opposite. Sometimes, we cannot put the blame on politicians alone as they tend to dance to the gallery. Who are they dancing to? You and me. If we are unable to live with differences, this would be amplified by politicians who want to get our support at all cost.

So, in this holiday season when we are spending time with our loved ones, family members and friends, we should take the opportunity to reflect on our openness to diversity. As the world becomes more interconnected, we have to deal more with people will all kinds of characters and beliefs. we need to be more global in our thinking.

Happy holidays and enjoy the break.

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