Citizens Of The World: A Proposal for the Movement
Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking about a movement that would be really good to have. Hoping that someone will start it. Classic procrastination and hoping that someone else will do what I think is needed.
I reached a breaking point last week. The amount of energy I was spending being annoyed because this movement does not exist exceeded the amount of energy it would take to at least do my bit in starting one.
About the movement
The idea behind #CitizenOfTheWorld is to have a sense of your civic responsibilities. In parts of the world where there are fewer people, the citizens already have this civic sense. In our beloved country, where the need is much higher because there are just too many of us, we don’t. Imagine a world where the actions of a stranger, your neighbor and your colleagues added up to make your day less tiresome. That’s my limited vision.
For example, how often have you been bothered when someone behind you in a traffic jam keeps honking incessantly? I mean, where the fuck do you want me to go? I won’t vanish from your honking, would I? And if your wish did come true, what is a movement of 2 meters (approximate length of my car) going to accomplish in the grand scheme of the kilometers you need to go to reach wherever you are in a hurry to reach? I am sure there are better things to wish for just in case there’s someone out there listening to your wishes. Remember when Chandler regrets not wishing for a million dollars when Ross’s wish for being married again was heard?
Another instance is when people leaving a meeting room leave behind their used cups of coffee, water and dishes of half eaten biscuits. Worse, they leave things scribbled on the white board and it takes up ten minutes of your meeting just clearing the mess.
The irritation and anger being transmitted into me with little things like these, adds up till it reaches a breaking point where I become a transmitter of my angst and irritation into other people. I will talk rudely to junior or my family member or just vent it in front of a friend over drinks in the evening. Worst is when it renders you impatient and intolerant. I’ve been guilty of rolling down my window to shout at someone while driving home. I have also instantly avenged something irritating that someone did, in anger. You can come back from these sometimes and apologize, but you’ve become the source of the the delta increase in irritation or anger in another person.
Many times, these other people are also on the precipice and this delta is all that they need to be pushed over the cliff which leads to heated arguments and fights.
We don’t need this. We can avoid this.
By watching ourselves, we can ensure we absorb most of these and vent them with friends and family in the process that is called, very aptly so, commiserating. It’s basically people sympathizing with you and you with them for being miserable together in shared sorrow. It’s the healthier alternative.
By doing this, you stop being a part of the problem. Which does not automatically make you a part of the solution, because binaries don’t exist in the real world — and it doesn’t matter what the movies teach you.
What does not kill you, does not automatically make you stronger. Smoking, rash driving, for example. One day, they will kill you. Male-female, straight-gay, winning-losing, my way-higway, with me-against me — are all good examples of false binaries.
Anyway, what I wanted to say is that this movement is the way to be a part of the solution.
By joining this movement, we agree to basically be civic. We will agree to a charter of things that we mutually decide are important.
And then, we need to brand ourselves as being the citizens of the world. Let’s include the hashtag in our bios on social media, get t-shirts for weekends and Fridays, stickers for our cars. I can get these made for us to buy from Amazon. Maybe have a community for discussions on Facebook? Write on twitter and medium and other forums with the hashtag of the good deeds we did. Let’s celebrate being normal and good people.
What this would accomplish is hopefully send a wave of shame through the people who indulge in uncivil things that we stand against. Shame can be a powerful, non-violent method of recruitment of people who can be good but choose to be not so.
This movement will succeed only if my hypothesis that there are more of us who want to be civic than those who want to be uncivil. A lot of us who want to be civic are pushed into being uncivil by the things happening around us that add to our irritation and anger to bring out the worst in us. Let’s not succumb. Let’s make the uncivil succumb.
If you struggle with a similar situation, please join this movement with me and also make your like minded friends aware of this and ask them nicely if they’d like to join in.
A movement is basically a coalition of the willing. That means that there’s no pressure to join this if you don’t believe in it. If you believe in the idea but have a better one, please let me know and I will join your movement. This is hardly my area of expertise.
But if you believe in this movement, do join in with an open heart. Let’s write the charter together. I am going to lay out some of the things that I worry about and how we could together do a better job and you can suggest things to add to that list. Additionally, if an overwhelming number of us believe that something should not be on the list, I will take it out.
The Charter (WIP, probably forever)
- I will be strong and absorb the annoyances from those who are not citizens of the world and share them with my citizen friends to vent, commiserate and help build the charter
- I will not be rude to anyone unprovoked; even when provoked I will not let my ego drive my reaction in the heat of the moment
- I will not honk while driving until absolutely necessary (for example, when the car in front is rolling back and will hit yours)
- I will not park my car on a busy street just because I want to buy something quick
- I will not block more space than needed for parking my car in a parking lot thinking about others who will come and want to park too
- I will not leave behind my used cups of coffee and plate of food after a meeting
- I will clean the whiteboard before leaving the meeting room
- I will not smoke in cabs to avoid irritating the next passenger
- I will not talk on my phone in the movie theater
- I will not talk loudly on airplanes with my friends, colleagues or family members
- I will not watch things on my phone, tablet, laptop without earphones on a flight
- I will not play loud music or a ruckus after mid-night to avoid irritating my neighbors
- I will not drive on the wrong side, nor ask my cab driver to do so
- I will not throw garbage in the street
- I will be respectful of other people’s time by showing up on time for my meetings and rendezvous
- … over to you, amigos
The filter we need to apply to make sure that this list does not become an assortment of many things is this — does this thing irritate or annoy or anger other people? Many good things like saving water, for example, are good to do in the sense of your civic responsibilities, but don’t really have any affect on others (yet) since the wastage is done largely in the privacy of homes.
Don’t forget to add your name and citizen number in comments below to join this movement.
#CitizenOfTheWorld 1: Kartik Sharma, New Delhi, India
I will keep updating the post if the charter expands or people have more ideas for forums and branding.