I look into the world and i think that we live a great time, where, in a click you can talk to people all around the world.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Respect, not race

With the British National Party grabbing a few headlines at the moment, I thought that I'd offer my own take on the issue of nationality and citizenship as my first WoS post of 2007.

Coming from a pretty multicultural city, I’ve worked alongside people from across the world, some of whom I’ve considered good friends. Most of the time, when either bitching about work or sharing a drink, their ethnicity or their reasons for coming to Britain simply hasn’t struck me as important – a brief topic of conversation, at best.

In a desperate attempt to make my English degree mean something, I like to put this down to my love of reading. Bear with me. On my bookshelves sit cherished works by the likes of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Anton Chekhov, Franz Kafka, and various other writers from a diverse range of backgrounds. If I’ve learnt only one thing from this esteemed collection of writers (and that’s quite possible) it’s that the character of a person is far more interesting and important than where they come from. Things like nationality or ethnicity don’t define someone, but their outlook on life can.

In his excellent essay on identity, ‘Citizens of the World’, K. Anthony Appiah tells us that one of the last pieces of advice his father left him was that, wherever he lived, he should try to leave it “better than you found it”. A perfect motto for the internationalist outlook. That’s what’s important to me: If someone respects their fellow citizens then, regardless of where they came from, I’m more than happy to live alongside them.

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