The Silver Lining in Cosmopolitanism
To lack a national bias, or a cultural bigotry, is to be a cosmopolitan; a “citizen of the world.” This term is neither complex nor is it simple, it lays in the middle of a comforting prospect of what it is like to think inside a grey area. Appiah’s exposition on cosmopolitanism describes the idea that our “global tribe” has the fundamental human duty to communicate and exchange our views and beliefs with one another, leaving aside the principles that more often clash among the diverse existing cultures. By doing so, our human race could come together as a whole and we would be able to tolerate all ideologies without having to embrace them.
The world as we know it has existed for more than 4 billion years. Earth’s complexity has given us everything we need in order to achieve all the discoveries, creations and societies that exist today. As humans, our primal instinct is to survive, and we have done so by developing within each other different civilizations and customs. What is remarkable about these developments is that each of them are unique and unprecedented. As Appiah implies, “…we neither expect nor desire that every person or every society should converge on a single mode of life.” In the interest of progress and expansion, curiosity stimulates our race and serves as a motivation to explore and extend the boundaries of human attainment and synergy. Without disparity and contrast, life would be nothing but a dull existence. Notwithstanding, humans tend to misunderstand one another, which many times can result on anarchy, oppression, and bloodshed.
This new year has come along with quite a controversial action from our leaders. The American government has now been shut down for several weeks, making it the longest government shutdown in American history. As a result, thousands of government workers are being neglected of their pay, as well as the many Americans that rely on the federal safety net. The reason behind this outrageous halt lays on a miscommunication between Congress and the President. The usage of the government’s immense budget is being argued and fought by both parties, seeing as each side wants to spend it differently. The real problem here is not where the money should go to or who should be in charge of handling it; the conflict truly is on the senseless dispute that is affecting negatively thousands of uninvolved citizens.
As Americans sit on a country where the government has decided to put their own whimsical needs and ideas before those of its people, Appiah’s theory on cosmopolitanism becomes more urgent. We appear to be living in a world where communication is everywhere, from our social media platforms, to the most common ways of human encounter; yet we still have not learned how to suitably converse with one another. As stated on his essay Cosmopolitanism. Ethics in a World of Strangers: “Conversation doesn’t have to lead to consensus about anything, especially not values; it’s enough that it helps people get used to one another.” If we took a second of our day to listen to someone other than the people we are close with, we would find that there is a lot to learn from different points of view. Many believe that to take notice of different opinions means to engage in the same thoughts. Instead, what really happens is an exchange of beliefs and mindsets that widen our minds and helps us see that there is a whole world beyond our invisible cultural walls, and that if we pay enough attention, we can learn and absorb a lot from it.
To disregard someone or something simply because it is unknown, means to feed our own ignorance. If we —as residents of this world— chose to cease the oblivion, we might be able to find that silver lining within our discrepancies and to coexist appease in our world.
Appiah, Kwame Anthony. “Cosmopolitanism. Ethics in a World of Strangers.” Emerging Contemporary Readings for Writers, Ed. Barciay Barrios. Third Edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s. November 13, 2015. 43-59.