I recently listened to an interview on NPR with a self-proclaimed globalist. He rightly pointed out that the globalist view—which, among other things, takes into consideration the effects that our actions have on other societies around the world—does not inherently contradict allegiance to our country any more than our allegiance to our family is antithetical to our allegiance to our country.
Under the right circumstances, both can flourish.
Surplus Leads to Charity
There is no denying that allegiance is subject to a natural progression. We choose our needs above those of others, choose our families needs above those of other families, choose our communities needs above other communities… and on it goes.
However, when working with a surplus, it is also natural for individuals, communities, and nations to become more charitable. When basic needs have been met, people are more open to helping others to meet their needs.
In addition, when people understand the link between their actions and the influences that those actions have on others, they often change their behavior (sometimes at considerable expense to themselves). This shift in behavior is subject to moral growth, i.e. an ability to see the world from a variety of perspectives and change conduct in accordance with that, essentially to use imagination to elicit empathy and compassion.
The Right Circumstances
Based on this reasoning, the right circumstances for broadening our allegiance to include more people from more nations requires, number one, that our needs have been met and preferably that we have a surplus—we can have a long discussion about how much is enough and what a surplus really means, but we’ll save that for another day—and, number two, that we increase our capacity for empathy by taking the needs of other people into account as often as we can when we make decisions about our own life.
Could We Create an Addendum?
Critics, who oppose nationalistic pledges, say that they were first and foremost devised as mental tools of war; that too many young people have their dead bodies clothed in flags that they did not need to die for. That is one way to view it.
Another way to see pledges is as the glue that keeps communities, both large and small, together, as an affirmation that creates a sense belonging and elicits a feeling of shared responsibility for all those who live within the parameters set by the pledge (and beyond when altruistic values are held in high regard and a surplus is reached).
If we choose the latter interpretation, I wonder, could we perhaps create an expansive addendum to national pledges; a pledge to our shared humanity that is meant to invoke a sense of empathy for all the people on this earth?
In my mind, the answer is yes.
It Could Go Something Like This...
I pledge allegiance to our shared humanity,
to the earth we all inhabit, the air we all breathe, and the water we all drink.
I look beyond differences in race and culture to see the ancestors we all share,
I see my humanity reflected in all other human beings,
and I take that into account when I make decisions about my everyday life.
It’s not very poetic, I know, but this first draft of an addendum-pledge to our shared humanity is a starting point. If it resonates with you, please feel free to use it and share it with other people. If you can think of a better version, please share it in the comment section.
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