Gerzon shows how current views are flawed and that stereotypes are lazy thinking that block real understanding. He shows how individuals can lead global change from home.
This apparently simple book has big and important ideas that should not be ignored. Mark Gerzon shows how many of the world’s problems are down to a lack of understanding of fellow members of humanity.
He shows how stereotypes, both personal “I am French” and external “he is a Muslim” are gross simplifications that do the individual and the world no favours. Behind the stereotypes there are always other identities that link people: both are parents, sons, daughters, teachers or whatever. Indeed as in the example above it possible for the apparently conflicting identities to overlap – there are many French Muslims, and each will have other identities.
Mark Gerzon shows that everyone has many identities. He cites a United Nations negotiator who happens to be Italian by birth who refuses to even allow a string of adjectives to be used as an identity; let alone one. He argues, as does Gerzon, that an identity’s importance depends on circumstance. Indeed in the case study the negotiator’s identity as a father with children was far more important in a hostage negotiation than being Italian or from the UN.
Throughout Global Citizens there are many short case studies or scenarios that illustrate the argument . Many are highly inspirational and demonstrate the importance of apparently small actions by "ordinary" people which then have significant impact.
In Global Citizens Mark Gerzon identifies five stages of becoming a Global Citizen:
He develops the ideas of global citizenship using these as a framework and shows how an individual can move to a wider worldview and move towards becoming a geocentric global citizen 5.0. In doing so greater understanding will be generated and not just for the individual concerned – there is a multiplier, almost an exponential growth in understanding by following Gerzon’s approach. After all understanding requires at least two people to connect.
Global Citizens details four main actions that need to be adopted to develop global citizenship at an individual, group or organisational level. They are:
The conclusion sets out twenty ways for an individual to raise his or her global intelligence. Mark Gerzon makes the point that there are tens of millions of people like the reader around the world who want to witness, learn and connect and collaborate across the borders that divide the world. In the 21st century the start of that process is just a few key strokes or an e-mail away.
The appendix provides resources lists and actions that individuals can follow. Most importantly the aspiring global citizen does not need to jet around the world to engage with the wider world. They can start at their local shopping centre with globally sourced products. In most large towns there will be a huge mix of people with backgrounds and connection that span the globe. Like many good works global citizenship starts at home and in the local community.
In Global Citizens Mark Gerzon has produced a deceptively simple book that contains hugely important ideas. Although it is a very easy read it should not be under-estimated. The big and important ideas are clearly described and even more importantly Global Citizens shows how individuals can engage with the world without even leaving their home town. Everyone can increase their Global Intelligence and by doing so can influence political and business leaders through new attitudes and choices.
Get rid of simplistic stereotypes, listen to our “enemies” and engage with the rest of humanity, one person at time, and much of the conflict will disappear. The world can then address the real problems of poverty, limited resources and climate change.
Global Citizens, How our vision of the world is outdated, and what we can do about it (2010, ISBN: 978-1-8460-4217-1) by Mark Gerzon is published in hard back by Rider, an imprint of Ebury Press, at £16.99.
Mark Gerzon is a global educator and has worked with United Nations, US House f Representatives fostering closer cooperation across international, ethnic and ideological divisions. His previous book Leading Through Conflict has been widely translated.
First seen on Suite101