Citizens of the world
Earlier this month, Theresa May claimed that “if you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere.” In such controversial, post-Brexit times, this quote struck a chord with both young and elderly people alike. Whilst ‘leave’ voters would celebrate the idea that our PM is thinking on a smaller, British-sized scale, ‘remain’ advocators are, quite frankly, wondering what the hell she’s on about.
It’s no secret that many sections of our society benefit from our worldwide connections; science, the arts, education, to name just a few. To quote a ‘remain’ voter speaking on the arts in particular, without the input of the global communities we would be looking “at a monologue instead of a dialogue”, in the cultural field. In other words, we would produce primarily British things for a British mind-set that is part of a British community. Our artistic fields would become rather monotonic, so to speak, without the complex inputs from global communities and individual artists.
It also notable to mention May’s impeccable timing when it came to revealing her post-Brexit plans for Britain. You can’t help but wonder that, had this quote been taken from a PM 5-10 years ago, the reaction would have been much more one-sided; that is, we’d all be thinking…what?! However, British nationalistic pride – particularly from the older generations – has swooped over the Isles and sent us back into a state of nostalgia. Things were easier, times were simpler, so why shouldn’t we go back to these types of ‘citizenship labelling’s’? I probably don’t need to explain to you why I (and many students alike) disagree wholeheartedly with this…
So, why is May stating that a worldwide citizen is simply a citizen of ‘nowhere’? It seems that yet again young people are being discouraged from expanding their status globally, and taking advantage of the free movement that will soon be eradicated. Not only this, but how does this look to global communities, who are pushing to ‘knock-down’ their borders and engage more-so with the wider world. It looks ignorant; as a very privileged and developed country, we are essentially looking to shut off ourselves to the world, and the places that helped make Britain such an interesting, culturally diverse place to live. All this, while under-developed and lesser privileged communities seek to gain recognition and benefit from the perks that come with being a ‘citizen of the world.’
Of course, the statement is partly just another ploy to remove ourselves from being involved with the migrant crisis. By condemning the ‘worldwide citizen’ idea, May has revoked any responsibility of dealing with the masses of displaced migrants making their way through Europe. However, condemning the idea also has an adverse effect on young people of her own country; are we too now citizens of nowhere? We are being told by our PM to basically either accept a Brexit Britain, or face a life lacking belonging in our home country. What kind of message is this sending out to students, apprentices, young entrepreneurs? These are people who often rely on the global communities not only economically, but also in terms of intellectual collaborations. Sadly, May is pushing away our talented next-generation, both literally and figuratively. Perhaps without their inputs, the elder generations of the UK will finally get the ‘good old days’ they so desire.