I dream of a mass movement: People everywhere – regardless of nationality, race, faith, class, political party – committing to these core principles, or something like them. Our future depends on living according to these kinds of values – as individuals, communities, nations, and as a species.
I’ve personally longed for something simple to devote myself to. There are so many causes, so many issues… but I like the following principles because they identify what matters while leaving plenty of room for each of us to find our own way to express them. Can you imagine voters, teachers, employers, politicians, and CEO’s who self-identify as Global Citizens and do their best to live according to these principles?
Do you think there’s anything essential missing from this list? Do you have any constructive suggestions to improve it?
The Seven Principles of a Global Citizen
- I revere and value all forms of life; if I engage in actions that kill or harm life, I will do so only with consciousness and care, and will minimize the harm in any way possible.
- I recognize it is essential to participate in ecological systems in a sustainable way; I will not engage in or condone actions that threaten the viability of the ecological systems on which we depend.
- I recognize that infinite economic growth is not possible on finite planet; I will find ways to support happiness and well-being that do not require it.
- I acknowledge that my well-being is interdependent with that of others; I will value and work for the freedom, dignity, prosperity, and happiness of all.
- I acknowledge the importance of learning the truth and bearing witness to the suffering of others; I will educate myself about what is happening in the world even when I do not know how to respond to it.
- I respect the autonomy and dignity of each and every person; I will advocate for what I believe in and take full advantage of democratic processes, but refrain from vilifying, judging, shaming, or intimidating others.
- I want to do whatever I can to bring about a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world; I will work for change and refuse to succumb to despair or pessimism.
I like to think that these Seven Principles of a Global Citizen spell out the values of many people in a way that applies specifically to the challenges we are facing in the world today. Most of these challenges are intimately connected to the ways we conduct ourselves within systems – ecological, social, and economic. It’s worth spelling things out for ourselves – how do our deeply held values and convictions manifest when participate in systems?
Another important aspect of the Zen precepts I have tried to incorporate here: the Principles clearly identify the underlying value and intention, but are open to interpretation. If they were too specific (“I will be a vegetarian, I will divest from fossil fuels”) they would not only be potentially divisive, they would violate the principle of respecting people’s autonomy. It may seem counter-intuitive, but a lasting, effective movement refrain from alienating people by enforcing a version of political correctness.
If you think I’m on to something here, please share! (Dreaming big: we could start a website where people could sign on to the Principles; we could travel the country and allow people to adopt these principles in simple ceremony; we could…)