Citylife has been hosting the northern chapter of the Junior Dublin Literary Awards for Thailand for 10 years. Each year we send letters out to as many schools as we can in the north asking Thai nationality students between the ages of 14-18 to send us an 800 word essay on a theme which changes annually. This year’s theme was World with No Boundaries. This month we are featuring the essay “A World with No Boundaries: Inferno or Paradise?” by 17-year-old Natanin Rachapradit from Naresuan University Secondary Demonstration School, who came second place in the northern regional finals. The winners from central and southern regions competed in Bangkok last month, with the national winner being awarded two return plane tickets to attend the Senior Dublin Literary Awards Ceremony in Dublin, Ireland.
A World with No Boundaries: Inferno or Paradise?
A thousand years ago who would have thought that we would have access from a single device to the world’s information from particle physics to Irish literature and we would take advantage of this to look at cat memes? A hundred years ago no one would have been worried about the possibility of global epidemics like Ebola. And fifty years ago, if there was an overflow of refugees due to a civil war in the Middle East this would not have been an issue for Europe or America. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the era of globalization, where humanity is more connected than it has ever been.
We all know that globalization brings about both pros and cons. For example, the upside of convenience in transportation brings about its counterpart of consumerism and global warming, as well as the increase in criminal enterprises such as human trafficking and drug dealing. And many claims that globalization is making the rich richer and the poor poorer. On the other hand, globalization has also turned what have once been separate groups of nations into a melting pot of culture. While some may fear it will mean the end of cultural identity, it has also made us reevaluate global values about things such as aesthetic beauty and pushes us to celebrate differences. An example of this can be seen in a recent move the toy company, Mattel, has made in the hopes of modernization. Mattel has announced that it is producing a new line of ‘Barbie’ where she is no longer presented as a petite, long legged blonde, but instead will come in various skin tones with different body shapes and hair colors. Or the protests against female genital mutilation, a practice that has gone on for decades but was not questioned until there was an exchange of cultures and people are forced to rethink about their practices. It is obvious that globalization has brought about changes not only in trades and politics, but intrinsic changes as well like beliefs and ways of life. This revolution has also enabled us to relate with people outside our race, our religion and our predicaments, pushing huge institutions to make decision that takes diversity into account to benefit everyone.
Whether or not globalization is bad or good is an endless debate but either way there is no stopping it. The important thing is how it connects us in a very powerful way. When I was younger, people told me that even the tiniest action could create a difference, and that one person will always be able to make an impact. As a cheesy romantic I accepted this without question, only to realize as I grow older how scarily true that was. Because in a world that is incredibly interconnected even the most mundane kind of actions such as choosing to buy fruits from a grocery store could be a decision to unknowingly support human trafficking. Now a days, the things that we choose to buy, the politician we choose to support, or the decision to keep silent about certain issues will shape not only the society that we live in — but the global community as well.
It is time that we realize we live in a world with no boundaries in which the littlest decision will create a butterfly effect. Globalization brings to light the one responsibility that truly ties all of us as a member of humanity — no matter what race, or religion, or gender — which is to simply take care of one another. Not as a member of one nation but as a global citizen. A thousand or a hundred of years ago we might be able to survive living as individual groups of communities but in the world as it is today we need a generation that looks outward not inward. We need to be aware that (according to the words of Bryan Stevenson during a TED talk) “all of our survival is tied to the survival of everyone else.” We are at the threshold of a community without borders and whether this is the start of paradise of equality and justice or the beginning of chaos and destruction depends on all of us and the decisions we make in all the roles that we play, as a voter, a consumer, an entrepreneur or even as a parent.
This connection has turned the planet into a smaller place and we need to use this advantage to build a bigger home. Globalization demands from us something that we already know: that to prosper we need to work together and not to satisfy personal agendas. We cannot go on living the same way that we do today — endless consumption with no regards to the environment or turning a blind-eye towards racism. We need to stop viewing ourselves as divided units because connection without unity will only mean we drown together. To survive, I believe we need to stretch our empathy to encompass the globe — a sense of compassion towards the environment, a deeper understanding between cultural differences, empathizing with people of different roles from people of power to people in need. I believe that empathy will be the key in this globalized world because it is where our best qualities lie — it is the beginning of selflessness, and of bravery to do the right thing because it allows us to see something greater than ourselves. But more than anything it enables us to see and care about the bigger picture — to fight for the same goal. The achievements in the millennial goals are enough proof of what humankind can do if we choose to cooperate and commit.
One of the most painful parts of growing up is how your beliefs learn to shed its skin. You learn to replace what your parents told you to be true with new cogs and pieces of how the world actually is. And one of the saddest thing I came to realize later in life was not how the tooth fairy did not exist, or the realization that my parents are deeply imperfect human beings — but it is the discovery that this world is a mess and no one really knows what they are doing. But as I have mentioned earlier I am a romantic, and on top of that I am an idealist. I still have faith in all of us because I believe that though globalization might bring about disarray, I also believe it can bring about empathy. And because of this, in this world with no boundaries I see hope for mankind.