I’m a citizen of the World

I’m a citizen of the World,” I say, when asked where I come from—and I am, in mind and heart.

Woman saving dog from the flood

Woman saving dog from the flood (photo by Dave).

 

Diogenes, in about 412 BC, was probably the first to use the expression and express the very same sentiment. When asked where he came from, he replied: “I am a citizen of the world (kosmopolitês)”. Socrates (469-399 BC) concurred: “I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.” This was indeed a revolutionary thought, because at that time, social identity in Greece was either bound to the city-states, Athens and Sparta, or to the Greeks (the Hellenes). Perhaps it is just as revolutionary today.

Kaniyan Poongundran, the Tamil poet, wrote (at least 2000 years ago), “To us all towns are one, all men our kin.” Thomas Paine (English-American philosopher, 1737 – 1809), said, “The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren and to do good is my religion.” Albert Einstein (1879-1955) thought of himself as a world citizen, “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”

I’ve travelled over most of our beautiful planet, seen mountains above the clouds with perennial snow tops, and oceans reaching far beyond the eye can see. I’ve lived in temperatures from 40º C below zero to 40º C above. I’ve eaten all kinds of weird and wonderful dishes prepared by humans and spent many a day and night enjoying the company of people with the most peculiar cultures and habits.

Asian child with cat and dog.

Child with cat and dog.

 

What’s my favorite place? I don’t have one. Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve discovered new pieces in the amazing puzzle of life. Everywhere I’ve been, from the most glamorous cities to the poorest, war-torn areas, I’ve met kind and gentle people. I’ve shared water with the Masai in the African desert and rice with the Chhetris in the Nepalese mountains. I felt a strong kinship with all of them: no country, no culture, no language, no divide—we were family, we were humans, we were sentient living beings.

My blogs are read all over the World. I have readers in places that you may never have heard of: Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Kyrgyzstan, Brunei, Réunion, Oman, to name just a few. I speak nine languages and understand at least sixteen, but write in English, as it’s the language I feel most comfortable with. I write about matters concerning my profession (biology and ethology) and also about life. My goal is to share the knowledge and experience I’ve been so fortunate to acquire during my life with all those who wish to receive it. My blog site, on which I share blogs, articles and books, is free to everyone.

I write in English, which is fast becoming a lingua franca, understood and spoken by most, allowing my blogs to reach far and wide. However, there are many people who do not speak or understand English and, therefore, from time to time, I publish a translation of one of my blogs in a language other than English. This is the least I can do for my loyal, non-native, English speaking readers from around the world.

Boy and dog sleeping on the street.

Boy and dog sleeping on the street (photo by Gemunu Amarasinghe).

 

As my blog site is free of charge, I have to keep costs as low as possible. I therefore use the WordPress platform, which is efficient, but has its limitations, one of which is that subscribers cannot be categorized by their native language; which means that all subscribers receive notifications of all my blogs whatever the language. This shouldn’t really be a problem, as, if you receive a blog in a language you don’t understand, you can either click the blue link that takes you directly to the English original, or you can simply discard the notification email. However, this seems to upset some native English speakers to the point where they send me messages asking me to remove them from the subscribers list unless they only receive blogs in English.

Unfortunately, that’s impossible if my blog is to remain free of charge because WordPress doesn’t provide that option. Such readers need to decide whether the inconvenience of receiving a message about a blog entry in a language you can’t read outweighs the benefits of having free access to all the other stuff you can. As of today, I’ve published 49 blogs (including several articles and six small books) of which only eight are in languages other than English. You can do your calculations and decide whether you get enough for your money (the money you don’t pay, that is).

As long as I receive messages like the one below, which overwhelms me, makes my heart beat a little faster and my eyes well up, I’ll continue to offer the sporadic translation.

“Teacher sir Roger I’m not good English I no computer Read from computer shop read your article from dictionary info I like so much I have many dog other animal too I very much appreciate your help very much You long life healthy”

The only regret I have is not being able to write in more languages than I do. Until then, I’ll continue writing in as many languages as I can—and yes, I’m a citizen of the World!

Life is great!

R—

Note: According to the CIA World Fact Book, only 5.6 % of the world’s total population speaks English as a primary language. That number doubles when people who speak English as a second or third language are counted. By conservative estimates, that means that well over four-fifths of the world’s population does not speak English.

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16 comments on “I’m a citizen of the World

  1. Hi Roger,

    I always appreciate your e-mails and it does not bother me to sometimes receive e-mails from you in languages I dont understand.

    Your writings are always enriching (“enrichissants”). I appreciate very much your generosity.

    I have created to non profit organisations devoted to dog behavior in Quebec city. The first one “Snif!” organizes conferences and workshops mainly about dog behavior and attracts mostly dog professionnals and people deeply involved in dog behavior. Two of our objectives are “having fun” and “low cost”. So far we met them.

    The second one is not as traditional as the preceding one. It is called “Canis Lupus Familiaris”. We are a very small group (7) of people very interested by dog behavior. The format of this group is “co-development”. There are no expert, no formal leader and we meet about once a month without an agenda. It is very relax. We habitually do not know what we will discuss. So far we studied HS/HA (hyper sensitive/ hyper active (I hope the translation is ok)), puppies tests, some aggression problems, behavior modification problems…

    This format is very interesting : very low cost, very easy to organize and maintain, very pleasing and it develops mutual assistance in the group. Everyone in enjoying this group and look foward the next meeting.

    I am considering assisting your Guinea Pig workshop in Montreal. Maybe we will meet there.

  2. It is quite something to have to explain that if you are to continue to offer blogs for free, you need to use an efficient platform that allows you to reach people abroad and that the said platform does not allow to categorize subscibers by their native language. It really surprises me that some people would be annoyed by this. All I want to say is that I appreciate your generosity in sharing what you write for free! And shining through these words I can feel the heart of the citizen of the world who has written this.

  3. Well said Roger, as an English woman living abroad ( oh, and a trainer), I cringe at the arrogance ( yep I said it ) of my fellow Englishmen and women, pity we are unable to speak so many other lauguages and accept other ways and cultures with as much grace as many other less fortunate societies do. Even if I receive your blogs in Portugese I attempt to read it, if only to learn and to temper my arrogance. Peace.

  4. I especially like the main sentiment and, of course, people with their pets is about as universal a language as is possible at this point.

  5. Thank you for being a citizen of the world, speaking and understanding other languages, having lived among and respected other cultures, but above all thank you for your sensitivity and sharing soul.

  6. Thank you for sharing Roger. I am poorer for being able to understand only one language. Your are to be applauded for your ability to reach so many people – wherever they be.

  7. Al saggio tutta la Terra é aperta, perchè patria di un’ anima bella é il mondo intero. (Democrito)
    … non traduco perchè Roger tu capirai e chi non è interessato non avrà di che lamentarsi!

  8. Eu não falo inglês. Eu uso o tradutor gratuito do Google. Quando postou seu mais recente livro “Os vinte princípios que todo treinador de animais deve saber” na língua inglesa, eu fiquei desolada porque o tradutor não podia traduzir. Minha tristeza felizmente durou pouco. Em seguida, a versão em português estava disponível e, pude desfrutar de um conhecimento que dificilmente poderia alcançar, não fosse sua bondade em compartilhar. Um coração generoso parece mesmo desconhecer fronteiras. Sou-lhe eternamente grata.

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