The outcome of November's presidential election will affect the entire world. Yet until the attack on our consulate in
There was talk at both parties' political conventions about American exceptionalism and the nation's exalted place in the world, but little was said about the need for common action with other nations to secure our imperiled common planet. Even former President
In an age of unprecedented cosmopolitanism and interdependence, our election rhetoric has been parochial, inward and self-absorbed.
The talk has been about American jobs, American civil rights, American health care. These are all crucial topics, but we need to think of them in international terms. We are American citizens, yes, but we are also citizens of the world. And the complex issues we face today don't honor the borders of nations.
Take climate change. Other than
We live in an age of interdependence, and the challenges we face — climate change, immigration, pandemic illness, the drug trade, terrorism, financial stability — can't be addressed without global cooperation. The 21st century will be neither an American century nor a Chinese century; it will be a world century. It will belong to all of us or to none, and we must decide together how to shape it.
This is realism, not idealism. But it is hard for politicians to talk realistically about interdependence when citizens punish them for it, calling them "European" or "socialist" or "un-American." In his first year in office, President
It's no wonder Americans aren't as engaged in the world as they should be. Many of the news outlets that people rely on for information pay little attention to the world beyond our borders. But channel surf beyond the usual American fare, pausing at the
Meanwhile, on the usual channels, just try to find news from, say,
Political conventions won't take up global issues until politicians are willing to do so; politicians won't think or talk like cosmopolitans until citizens applaud them for global realism; and citizens won't be ready to cross the traditional national frontiers that have defined their parochialism until an information-grounded media help them grasp the meaning of interdependence, which is about bridges not walls, cooperation not frontiers, commonality not exceptionalism.
As a sovereign nation, we have had more than 200 years of successful independence. But today, in a world without borders confronting challenges without borders, Americans need to learn to become citizens without borders.