The Importance of a Global Sense of Place

In March 2013, the BBC aired a programme featuring blue eyed and blond comedian  Eddie Izzard and his genetic relations. These were traced back over many thousands of years to the time when his ancestors still lived in Africa. In the two programmes he meets modern day genetic cousins among a nomad tribe in Africa, and also on the shores of the Red Sea. It was revealed that Izzard was more than 2% Neanderthal.  It could be argued that our common ancestries mean that we are related as global citizens and therefore share a common global sense of place.

The bush people tribe in Namibia and Izzard’s home near London are separated geographically, or, it could be argued, that they are joined by the seas lines which go from one to the other, but it can also be argued that they are joined by their basic humanity. Anderson (2012) describes how geneticist Brian Sykes has been able to show the common descent of all modern Europeans, and most Americans, from seven specific women who were  born in Africa in the period between 10,000 and 45,000 years ago.

The fact that we share this common humanity means that we share common needs – for nutrition, shelter, procreation. We tend to want what is best for our children and know that we can achieve much by our efforts. Maslow’s hierarchy of need (McLeod, 2014) describes in its second level our need for safety which in practice means the need for employment, a common morality, the availability of resources and health. As the pyramid reaches its highest levels esteem is mentioned, the need to have self-confidence, to achieve, and to respect others as they have respect for us. The highest level of the pyramid of need is about self-actualization, which includes such things as creativity and problem solving. Maslow’s idea was that as each level of need was met the person would be able to move on to the next level.  These are features shared by all peoples, whatever their origins, cultural backgrounds or beliefs and political systems.

All these connections made me think about a mind map of my area. It would include what I know of the origins of my neighbours just here in one street. Pat, next door.  Her family have been here for almost 300 years, but her son is in New Zealand. Three doors away a local man has married a Chinese lady , and opposite is a family where the mother is a Lithuanian , but she is Russian by blood. Round the corner lives a Jamaican lady , and past the shops there are Irish families. My own family has mixed origins if you look carefully. A stranger might not notice any of this though as they drive or walk down the street. They would just see the houses, each slightly different from the next. You have to live here to know all this.

Our common links as fellow humans are recognised in documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights produced and adopted by the United Nations in 1948.  The document states that it recognises:-

In Article 1 it says :-

  • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood

In the real world however there are vast inequalities. There are rich countries and poor ones; Those who have well paid work or other incomes and, on the other hand, so many people starving to death. There are those free to make their own choices and those for whom others make the decisions. In between are a great mass of people at all levels.

So, we do share a global sense of place in that we share a common humanity. We may share with many people common ideas such as a religion, or political system, or a love of sport. We may share a love of creativity, perhaps in music, however we express it. Perhaps our countries were once part of one of the world’s great empires, whether an ancient one such as the Roman Empire or that which belonged to Britain. These things are important, but it is our common needs as humans which should really unite us as part of the race Homo Sapiens. We are the people of Earth, that is what should give us a common sense of our place in the world.

Maslow is quoted by McLeod as having said that those who reach the highest tier are,  ‘Concerned for the welfare of humanity’. May we all reach that apex.

References

Anderson, D., Geneticist Brian Sykes and the Seven Daughters of Eve, 2012, Examiner.comhttp://www.examiner.com/article/geneticist-brian-sykes-and-the-seven-daughters-of-eve

BBC 1 ( television programme) The Mum’s Line, 12th March 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01qxqgs

McLeod, S., Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Simply Psychology, http://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html

United Nations , The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml

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