6.13. Building a Global Community

Our international system of nations isn’t very functional anymore–because many of our problems are now global.

The world is divided into 200 countries not because it’s natural or because it’s the best way to do it.

It’s simply because that’s the way civilization evolved.

First we had tribes. Then little feudal territories. Then empires that spread across the globe. And finally countries, as those empires broke up and colonized people gained their independence.

But this international system of nations we have now isn’t very functional anymore—because many of the problems we need to confront are global.

Pollution and climate change are global. Capitalism is a global system that we keep trying in vain to regulate on a national level. Our information, communication, and transportation technologies transcend borders.

If we were designing our institutions from scratch, based on the realities of today, we wouldn’t set it up this way.

We wouldn’t get rid of nations, or take all their power away from them. But we’d want to install some type of truly global institution, with the authority to deal with these global issues, without having to get all 200 of these vain, self-interested, bickering nations to somehow agree on everything.

We’re repeating the mistakes of feudal Europe or China, when all those feudal territories were too divided to really thrive—or the Articles of Confederation in the United States, when the states had too much power, and we had to write a new constitution with a stronger federal government.

But I don’t think our national governments are going to correct this mistake on their own.

I think we’re going to have to make them.

And the first step on that path is to really cultivate a global sense of community.

We aren’t our nationalities. We aren’t our races or our genders or any other of those social or demographic categories we use to divide ourselves into groups.

We’re people.

We’re 7.5 billion global citizens, living on a nondescript rock spinning in space.

We still have a lot of different, distinct cultural practices. But it just doesn’t make sense anymore to think of ourselves as separate. We’re just too interconnected.

There are only two reasons why we prefer to divide ourselves up into smaller groups, instead of seeing ourselves as one big global community.

Either we want to simplify things, to make it easier to wrap our heads around this enormous mass of humanity.

Or we want to make our little tribe superior, so we can look down on and not worry about the fate of billions of suffering people.

Either way, we’re indulging in a fantasy that kills people, that justifies oppression, that says certain people don’t deserve basic human rights or liberties.

It’s tough to find that balance between individuality and community, between independence and interdependence. But I think it’s clear that we’re far too divided, far too concerned only with our own narrow interests, instead of the good of the world.

There’s only one way to fix it: start pushing the pendulum back the other way.

Toward community. Toward cohesion. Toward the good of the whole.

We shouldn’t need a global catastrophe to tell us we need to think of ourselves as a global community.

But at the current rate…that’s where we’re heading.


This is the 105th in a series of over 150 videos about how to create real, lasting social change. Click here for a list of all titles, videos, and transcripts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *