A universal melting pot

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Photo by Moyo Arewa
Photo by Moyo Arewa

It’s great to be a Laurier Golden Hawk, it’s great to be an Ontarian, it’s great to be a Canadian and it’s great to be a global citizen.

We define ourselves as members of these cliques. While we may study at different institutions and live in diverse regions within separate countries, we constitute a massive coalition: a global community of seven billion people.

The familiar “I am Canadian” phrase transforms into a loaded idiom which reposes unobstructed from borders, race, gender, religious affiliation, culture, political devotion and economic variations to become “I am cosmopolitan.”

Perhaps the greatest fear with cosmopolitanism is it renders nostalgia as moot; the tiny farmhouse in the town where you were raised that holds your dearest memories is as much your home as a low-rise flat in London or a shanty town in Peru.

Therefore, transcending borders should be simple; a true citizen of the globe maintains the ability to subsist anywhere. Cosmopolitanism encourages a blend of previously learned values with new principles.

Debatably, it is human to associate and attach to people and places, to find comfort in familiarity. For many of us, the world is brimming with unforeseen prospects and relocating and beginning elsewhere is a personal choice.

A vast majority of our seven billion neighbors, however, are subject to expulsion and might be forced to leave their comfort zones out of necessity — this forced cosmopolitanism disrupts the global community immensely, as newcomers struggle both outwardly to coexist in a new environment and privately with identity loss in combination with a tremendous, almost romanticized and melancholic perception of home.

What we know in Canada as multiculturalism promotes the opinion that there is one culture broadening to encompass multiple ethnicities. What then is our culture?

Does being Canadian mean red plaid jackets, freshly tapped maple syrup, provincial parks, picturesque scenery, beavertail snacks, our Aboriginal heritage and our distinct phonetic pronunciations?

The melting pot facilitates an undesirable perception; one of a total deterioration with caustic implications.

These obtuse, pessimistic undertones foster a desperate cling to xenophobia and extremist patriotism, which undeniably poses a challenge to cosmopolites.

How can the global citizen partake in Canadian culture without threatening the pre-existing status quo? Must they forfeit all learned beliefs to live wholly within Canadian borders?

The idea that Canada showcases its capacity to welcome travellers from across the globe is vague and deters from a cosmopolitan agenda.

A global citizen carries with them pieces of the world — fragments of everything they have come to know.

Expecting people to squeeze neatly into one culture and truly experience what it means to exist within a subset of the global population is incredibly difficult, if not completely idealistic.

As students, can we associate with one culture thoroughly while simultaneously considering ourselves cosmopolitans? Dare I ask you what it means to be Canadian and what it means to be a global citizen?


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Serving the Waterloo campus, The Cord seeks to provide students with relevant, up to date stories. We’re always interested in having more volunteer writers, photographers and graphic designers.