The Inherent Connection to our Local Identities

When viewing personal identity in terms of the world around us, we can separate each others’ perspectives into two categories: global and local. Though the benefits of primarily identifying oneself as a global citizen (a heightened awareness of those around us, increasing our moral scope, obligation to sustainability, and the building global consciousness) outweigh those that come from first identifying locally, it’s hard to deny that many people still feel a more inherent connection to their local roots than to the world as a whole — including me. Although I recognize that being a global citizen is much more moral and beneficial than being a local one, I admit that I still personally identify more as a local citizen than I do a global one.

Most obviously, this is because local identities are more unique than a global one is. When introducing myself to strangers, I almost always include where I’m from if they don’t already know because it’s one more thing that sets me apart from people who don’t live in Urbana, in Maryland, or in the US. Those who live in shared communities tend to mimic or at least influence each other, which is why the average New Yorker would not be expected to behave as an average Minnesotan. Everyone is technically a global citizen, so that title just doesn’t feel as personally important as whatever local identity you could give yourself, and it doesn’t help people identify each other the same way shared ethnic backgrounds or hometowns do.

Additionally, whether it’s purposeful or not, it’s just easier to care for a smaller group than it is to care for an international one; people tend to be automatically more empathetic toward those they’ve known and those they can see. It’s difficult for most of us to really deeply understand how our actions affect others on an international scale, but in a local community, those effects can be much more relatively impactful and seen more clearly, making us feel more like a part of a local community than the global one.

However, realizing the reasons behind my local identity overpowering my global one should not be the end of the discussion. It’s important for people to think of themselves as part of an international community rather than a small, specific one, and dissecting our thought processes should only be the first step in building our global imaginaries.

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