Imagine There’s No Countries . . .

Considering the Possibility and Practice of Global Citizenship

President Gaviria Lecture at University of the Pacific

Posted by jonthepackardman on January 23, 2009

For my critique of Gaviria’s lecture, as well as a longer explanation and discussion of the topics he covered, please go to my blog, which serves as my E-portfolio, and read the entry titled: “Former President of Columbia, Cesar Gaviria, Speaks at Pacific

Last semester I attended one of the Gerber Lecture Series events in which Cesar Gaviria, former president of Columbia, spoke. Sitting in class this week, it occurred to me that a lot of what Gaviria had to say could be accomplished by the presence of more global citizens in America. Now, you may be saying: ‘Jon, give me a break. America is a cultural melting-pot, how much more globalized could a citizenry get?’ While you may be right in that we do have many immigrants who still maintain ties to their countries of origin, you have failed to see that the three primary parts of global citizenship, as identified in Hans Schattle’s The Practices of Global Citizenship, are not being met. The presence of foreigners in America does not mean that we as a people are aware of what is going on in the world around us. In addition, it does not ensure that we recognize the responsibility that we have to ourselves, our offspring, and the rest of the world, in regards to our individual actions and the potential impacts they may subsequently produce. Furthermore, an active participation in global affairs is necessitated by this account of global citizenship.

President Gaviria covered an array of topics during his lecture, however, the point that he seemed to continuously emphasize was the fact that had the United States paid any attention to Central and South in the last couple of decades, our current financial crisis could have been avoided. He mentioned that his people, much like those within the United States, tend to live above their means and save a smaller proportion of their income. This comes in stark contrast to the Asian populace of the world, which saves approximately 40% of its annual income. This explains why Americans, who have overstretched themselves financially, fall into economic hardship while Asians do not. To summarize, Gaviria claims that had America paid closer attention to the world around it, seen what was happening in Central and South America and juxtaposed that to the economic situation in Asia, we could very have avoided our current plight. Although he made several excellent arguments throughout his lecture, I still believe that the president was somewhat short-sighted.

Cesar Gaviria urged the United States to work with its neighbors to the South in order to build strong economies for all, create a greater standard of living for all, and improve international relations for all of the countries concerned. However, I believe that this suggestion is insufficient. Why stop there? Why not foster amiable relations between all of the countries in the world? Although this goal may be far-fetched, change in that direction must begin sometime. The United States, and all other countries of the world for that matter, should strive to build bonds with not only their neighbors, but with countries half way across the world as well. Global interdependence leads to greater understanding among countries, better international relations, and an ensuing “world peace” that pageant contestants always refer to. Though this argument may seem quite idealized and full of flaws and faulty assumptions, this is the only path to less violence and better relations worldwide. And as Albert Einstein said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Though my proposal may be tough to take on and accomplish, the potential benefits far outweigh the challenges.

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2 Responses to “President Gaviria Lecture at University of the Pacific”

  1. mayacu said

    I think that fostering good relations and even friendship among all the countries of the world is a wonderful and beneficial proposal. I also attended Gaviria’s lecture and I think that starting with our neighbors is a great first step. The United States has a long history of encroaching on the sovereignty of Latin American countries and promoting injustice and exploitation there. A new dedication to supporting our southern neighbors and helping instead of hindering them would show the rest of the world that we are finally open to treating them as our equals. In order to do this we must overcome the common sentiment that we (the U.S.) are number one. No one wants to be true friends with a person or government that constantly holds over your head that they are better than you and can blow you up on any sort of whim.

  2. bklunk said

    If you missed the Gaviria lecture, you can find it on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlnItHGiUS8.

    On the other hand, Asia, China especially, have been able to grow so rapidly in large part because US consumers and the US government have lived beyond our means. We probably need a change of behavior so that Asians spend more and save less so that the US can move in the other direction.

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