Saturday, May 17, 2014


The first time I read this quote ~ many years ago ~ I found myself wondering: Why would it be different for a woman than for a man?

Having been a feminist for most, if not all, of my life, it wasn't because I believed everything was the same in the world for men and for women. The question rose because I wondered why a woman could understand global citizenship and a man might have difficulty with that consideration.

As I've encountered this quote over and over again, I've grown to realize it is about a sense of belonging. Once I understood, intuitively understood, how small and fragile and strong our world is, I could no longer simply consider myself a citizen of one small corner of it, of one nation, one state, one city. What I do, or what I choose not to do, affects far more than me and my immediate surroundings. I feel a kinship with women throughout the world.

Considering myself a citizen of the whole world holds me accountable for my actions in a vastly different way. I am responsible for learning more about how people live in the rest of the world, about how politics affects their freedom and their access to goods and services that I may take for granted, about how my consumption patterns ripple to affect availability of food and water for others.

This point of view, this rejection of belonging to a country with arbitrary boundaries and artificial borders, gives me pause to accept and embrace belonging to something grander, on a larger scale, to belonging to the entirety of humanity. It's different for me, as a woman, because I feel a kinship with women in other countries already. Girls are kidnapped in Nigeria and I weep, knowing the horror I'd feel if that were my daughter. Women are raped as part of a war in Syria and I weep, feeling the violation ripple through my own body. In South Africa, 49% of maternal deaths are attributable to HIV/AIDS, and I weep, knowing men keep the information and protection away from women and children lose their mothers at an early age. When I think of myself as belonging to the global community, then the release of the final Hunger Games movie and who wins the NBA finals or if California Chrome is going to win the Triple Crown slip into an entirely different context.

Where do you find a sense of belonging? What emotions emerge when you think about that place? when you are actually there, if there is a physical place for it? Do you feel more comfortable as a citizen of a particular neighborhood? city? state? country? or the world?

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