Responsibility is the ability to respond, the ability to sense relationship beyond one’s own self, family, and inner circle. To be able to feel a relationship to people with whom one might not have anything personally in common, that’s a factor in citizenship.

Robert: Hello and welcome to Inner Sight. Our show today is on citizenship. I think that’s such an important topic, because more often now intelligent human beings are seeing themselves as citizens of the world. One of those people who remarked on citizenship and on the need to consider oneself to be a world citizen was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And I quote: “We have learned that we cannot live alone, at peace, that our own well-being is dependent on the well-being of other nations far away. We have learned that we must live as men and not as ostriches, nor, as dogs in the manger. We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community.” How much more advanced that is, than saying I am from the United States or I am from Poland or I am from China, to look at oneself as a citizen of the world and look at all men as brothers. Imagine if everyone did that, how much respect, dignity, and altruism there would be in the world and there might not be any more wars either! So, don’t look to some other person to start thinking that way. The beginning of reform starts with oneself, so you start. Dale, Sarah, how do you feel about that concept of citizenship?

Sarah: One thing that struck me about the quotation from Franklin Delano Roosevelt was that he said that in January of 1945, when the World War was finally winding down and it was probably a time of great hope that humanity would have learned something from all the suffering of the World War. But now looking back on it 55 years later, part of me wonders if we really have learned that we have to live as men, meaning as thinking human beings and not as ostriches, and that we have in fact, as he said, learned to be citizens of the world and members of the human community. I’m not really convinced. I hope so, but sometimes you wonder if people do see themselves as part of a larger community, or if they are in fact becoming more and more wrapped up in their own little circle of friends and family; their work; their own physical comfort; their own emotional gratification, and if that’s enough.

Robert: I’d like to ask you this, what is the relationship between citizenship and the development of consciousness and also does a sense of citizenship depend on a particular stage in consciousness?

Dale: I think it does, yes. It depends where one’s focus is in life. If their consciousness tends to be focused entirely on themselves and on what they are doing, and their family life, then there’s not much breadth or depth to the consciousness. The outward look that is necessary for a real person of citizenship would seem to be lacking. What they identify with is just the very narrow life that they’re living. That indicates a certain level of consciousness.

Sarah: Don’t you think that the statement from the books of Alice Bailey, that responsibility is the first sign of the presence of the soul would apply to what you’re saying about citizenship?

Dale: Sure, and responsibility can expand beyond one’s family life: to the community; to the nation, and once that sense of responsibility expands, then yes, you’re at a stage where citizenship begins to take hold. You begin to sense a feeling of responsibility, not only for your family but your community and for the nation. That is the key.

Sarah: But again, a part of me wonders if people are really aware of this sense of responsibility because we hear so much today about our rights. There’s a great and understandable emphasis on human rights, which is wonderful, but along with rights come responsibilities and obligations to the larger society. I don’t hear a great deal being said about what we are obligated to do and what we are responsible for as citizens, particularly in a democracy like this, where it’s all handed to us. We just take it for granted and don’t see that as citizens in a democracy, we have something that we owe back to society.

Robert: When we look at responsibility, I think, inherent in the word also, is the desire to do the right thing, to abide by the right values and not let ourselves be affected by our emotions. For example: we may have a strong desire to act in a particular way, but our sense of responsibility might prevent us from doing so.

Sarah: Responsibility also is, the ability to respond, the ability to sense relationship beyond one’s own self, family, and inner circle. To be able to feel a relationship to people with whom one might not have anything personally in common, that’s a factor in citizenship. Being able to care and be interested in the lives of people who are not directly connected to oneself, yet we inhabit the same community; the same nation; the same planet.

Robert: I think also, when we look at the various religions, they all seem to respect the dignity of humankind. If we look, we can see that one of the highest values in all scripture is to respect individuals no matter what part of the globe they might live in, so I think, the idea of world citizenship is the superior idea. I think it could enable us all to get along so much better.

Sarah: In fact, that recognition of world citizenship goes way back, because Socrates, I think it was, declared: “I am not an Athenian or a Greek. I am a citizen of the world.” He was ahead of his time. That was 2500 years ago, and we’re still many of us, learning to try to take in what he understood intuitively.

Robert: Is it being taught sufficiently in our schools today and if it is, at what age should it be taught?

Dale: I’m not sure that it is now, but I studied it when I was in school. We had what they called Civics in those days. We got a small taste of what it meant to take part in the community and that’s the start of citizenship. I think, it has to start in elementary school, but I’m not sure whether it’s being taught today and I have the feeling that it isn’t.

Sarah: It was a mandatory requirement in my day, but now I don’t know if it’s mandatory for all students to have to study Civics.

Robert: I remember being taught civics and citizenship, but not on a worldwide basis. It was restricted to the United States. I think, world citizenship would be a better concept because look what’s going on today. We’re still having wars and fights and one of the biggest causes of all the hostility and negativity that’s going on is, divisions, whether it’s geographical or religious so, the more we can break down those walls and look at world citizenship, the better.

Sarah: Well, I just came back from a stay in Britain and Switzerland, and when you’re in Europe, you’re very aware that they are evolving into this attitude, if not global citizenship, certainly of European citizenship, with the growth of the European Union. In a year or so the currency will be the euro and all the countries that are members of the European Union will be using the same currency and that has created, as we’ve heard, a great deal of conflict because it will upset the economic systems of some of the nations, but beyond that, there are the standards that they all have agreed to adopt in trade and rights; for example, in England, the issue was that England will have to begin to enforce civil rights legislation, according to the requirements of the European Union, and they were very wary of doing so because it conflicts with their own values. So, this is requiring a tremendous sacrifice and a tremendous trust on the part of the European community to move into this new, larger European Union.

Dale: Yes, you have to give up some of your sovereignty, especially when it comes to world citizenship, because that goes beyond the boundaries of one’s country, and those boundaries have been sacrosanct for so long. Now with globalization and the ability to communicate with anybody in the world, these boundaries are getting blurred. You have to think also, of what you’re gaining when you advocate world citizenship because you’re actually gaining a lot more than what you’re losing.

Robert: I think, people fear diversity a lot and we have to realize that the universe is composed of diversity and that there is a superior being; I like to call him God, who admires and sees the beauty and diversity. As we become more advanced as human beings, we too should be able to see the beauty and diversity rather than being frightened by it.

Sarah: I think democracy depends on diversity. To have a true functioning enlightened democracy, there has to be a recognition not only of the inevitability of diverse viewpoints, but the need for them, so that there is a real consensus that serves the common good. That can only be attained through a diverse approach and the input of all the different elements of the society. It makes you wonder if a democracy like the United States, where something like twenty- five percent of the people determine the President, is really doing so well. I think a few years ago during the election of Reagan, that something like fifty percent of the registered voters voted, and it was a close election. So, something like twenty-five or six percent of the registered voters actually chose the president. They had the majority and all the rest of the people sat it out, so it must have been Okay with them that they didn’t participate. And yet, Rousseau said “as soon as any man says of the affairs of the state, what does it matter to me, the state may be given up as lost.” So, it makes you wonder.

Robert: Yes, it sure does. How has the concept of citizenship developed over the centuries and what is the significance of world citizenship?

Dale: Well, it’s interesting to look back and see this whole thing as as a matter of growth in human consciousness over the centuries. If you think back to the dark Ages, there wasn’t any sense of citizenship in those days. You were either a subject of a king, or a small Kingdom; a peasant; or of the nobility. I don’t think they had the sense of citizenship then. This came quite a bit later, certainly with the founding of our country in the United States, but also with the Age of Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries. It was then that light began to dawn in people’s minds and they began to expand their consciousness. They grew into a sense of something beyond themselves, realising they were part of something larger.

Sarah: But, for a lot of people that sense of citizenship only goes as far as the borders of their nation. We’re taught to be good Americans; good British subjects; good Italians; or whatever. What we probably need to focus on in this world that’s developing now, is to teach our children to be good citizens of the world. That’s something that doesn’t seem to be dealt with yet, or do you disagree?

Dale: No, I agree. I think it’s a matter of growth in consciousness that we have to work our way up to, in a sense. it just doesn’t happen overnight.

Sarah: It’s been one of the major themes of the life and service of Robert Mueller, who was one of the founding participants in the United Nations. He developed this, what he called a global core curriculum, which is to teach children to develop a sense of themselves as being, first of all, members of the one humanity and citizens of the planet earth and then to have a sense of themselves as members of a family and of their own humanity, the dignity of the human being. But, nowhere in that curriculum did he believe was there a place for emphasizing the national qualities of the person, because he himself had seen so much evil come from nationalism. He was born in Alsace Lorraine, and he saw his own family torn apart by the need to identify either with the German or the French side of Alsace Lorraine. So, he had a great suspicion of nationalism and working within the United Nations, he saw that it’s possible to transcend the ideals of nationalism for something much higher. Planetary values.

Robert: Well, I think it is as Dale said, the next step in social evolution. If you look upon the social evolution starting from primitive times, we’ve had the tribe and then the clan and so on up the line and it seems like if we’re going to continue that evolution, the next step would be citizen of the world and perhaps someday citizen of the universe. But we have to be ready for it mentally and we have to develop the right values within us in order to be able to experience the joys and the benefits of that type of consciousness, I think. We have so much talk today about globalization and of course most of globalization has to do with economics and we lose sight of the idea of a more advanced globalization, having to do with humanity and good feelings towards our brothers throughout the world. Is this theme of globalization helping citizenship?

Dale: I think it would be, because of, like we said, the Internet, the economics and the financial relationships that now exist between all the nations of the world. There is this massive communication going on constantly and one can’t help but come away from that without feeling a sense of companionship with somebody else in another country.

Sarah: For example, last week being in Europe and seeing the Yugoslav Revolution played out on CNN, live. It was quite astonishing to see it televised as it was happening.

Robert: Yes, that must have been fascinating.

Dale: You gain a sense that you’re part of something bigger than what you had thought you were before.

Sarah: Is that what’s missing in our democracy in the United States, which makes people not partake in the democratic process; not pay attention to the elections; not vote; not perceive any difference in the candidates, that they don’t feel a part of something larger?

Dale: Perhaps I can’t speak for all of the people but it goes back to that sense of responsibility; we have a responsibility as citizens of this country to take part in the political process and it’s a spiritual responsibility as well. If we don’t, then we’re abrogating our responsibilities and we’re giving it over to somebody else and if we don’t like the results, then we don’t have a leg to stand on and we have no cause to complain because we didn’t play our part. If we’re going to call ourselves a citizen of this country then we’ve got to be ready to participate. We have immigrants coming into the country by the thousands every day and they’re all just dying to be a part of this country and it’s wonderful to see. They almost have a better sense of citizenship than the people that were born here and have lived here all of their lives!

Robert: Part of the solution is to let go of the past too. I remember hearing a friend of mine who comes from Bosnia, talk about how people in that country will talk about wars and hurts that were done to them a thousand years ago, and they’ll actually get up and get angry and pound on the table, about how the enemy walked into their village and destroyed something. I don’t know how that can happen! We have to get over things and let go of the past. If good citizenship depends on a developed consciousness, what are some of the signs that demonstrate or illustrate this growth?

Sarah: I think one sign would be the ability to care about something outside one’s own immediate needs or experience; to be able to identify with what people are going through that doesn’t directly impact on oneself. For example, the Yugoslavian revolution or what’s happening in the Middle East, even though it doesn’t directly impinge on one’s own well-being.

Dale: Yes, and I think, getting over the sense that this is my country and I want to keep it for myself, this kind of isolationism that we still fall back onto as we did before World War II. That was a terrible thing and it really kept us from growing. I keep going back to having a sense of responsibility and that comes with a certain stage in the development of consciousness.

Sarah: Perhaps part of the responsibility of citizenship is that it requires each person to create in his own mind an understanding of what the issues are and to reach a conclusion. The writings of Alice Bailey say that the focused, determined, and enlightened public opinion is the most potent force in the world. Well, all of us are contributors to public opinion or should be, and that takes some paying attention, some study, and some thinking.

Robert: I would like to say in closing, we invite you to ponder on this thought. Goodwill is the touchstone that will transform the world. Goodwill is love in action. It’s the energy that draws us together in right relationship and there’s a world prayer called the Great Invocation. It’s a call for light, love, and goodwill to flow into the world and into our hearts. Let’s listen for a moment to these powerful words.

Sarah: Closes with the Great Invocation.

(This is an edited transcript of a recorded radio program called “Inner Sight”. This conversation was recorded between the host, Robert Anderson, and the then President and Vice-President of Lucis Trust, Sarah and Dale McKechnie.)

(Transcribed and edited by Carla McLeod)




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