Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Global or International?

My course book asked an interesting question this week: "When you think of 'global', what does it mean to you?"   I hmm-d and haa-d and could only think 'well, worldwide'.  They then had a photo of the earth from outer space, and a map of the world showing the divisions of countries.

The earth photo represented those who thought of 'global' as meaning one society of which all human beings are members; no national divisions, we're all in this together no matter what language we speak, what colour of our skin or whatever.

The map, however, they interpreted as representing 'international' rather than 'global'.  In other words the world is made up of lots of separate entities and we each sit cocooned in our own comfortable (we lucky ones) country where we know what's what, and being separate from 'the others'.

Of course we all know that clothes we buy in the local department store are made in another country; and occasionally we think about whether the workers in those countries are exploited or just grateful for a job. Likewise with much of the food from the supermarket.  But still, We are Here, and They are There.

Even within our own nations, towns, streets there are the divisions of Us and Them.  The North/South divide of England for instance - no doubt there are equivalents in all countries.

To think of the world as a single, global society.... those links from one side of the world to the other, remembering that what you buy today was probably made or grown thousands of miles away yesterday... remembering that we are all humans... is not something most of us do regularly.

I am here in Phuket, Thailand surrounded by local people, but also a plethora of nationalities from Australian to Swedish to Russian. Partly that is because I am at an international regatta, but it is also the type of place that is bursting with ex-pats. After a while one hardly notices what accent people have; yesterday somebody asked me if I was from Australia or New Zealand, despite my very English accent.

It's a good exercise occasionally to zoom out of your life, out from your office, house, town, country, continent, until you can see the whole earth and remind ourselves that the only boundaries are man-made.


  1. 'The only boundaries are man made'...that's a lovely way of putting it and very true! I found that living in Thailand gave me a new perspective on things...I don't think I see the world in quite the same way anymore..and I think that's a good thing! It's one of the reasons that I went back to Uni :-)

    C x

  2. Very good!

    I agree.
    I also agree that we tend to think in terms of countries or divisions of landmass.

    Now I'm gonna be thinking 'global' all day, yaknow......


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