A Global Village: Why We Are All Immigrants in a Village of 196 Citizens

First of all, let me be clear. This is NOT a post about Donald Trump or the recent American Election. To me, in many ways, that situation is small potatoes, a mere symptom (among many) of a much larger problem. Ask, Kalpana, my long-suffering wife, and she’ll tell you that this has been simmering in my brainpan for a very long time.

And, I apologize for not being a more regular correspondent lately, but, frankly, I’ve been waiting to see how things play out on a global scale (Syria, Brexit, etc.). But now, I find I have to say something. It probably won’t be very eloquent as I’m shooting a bit from the hip and the heart here. In all likelihood I’ll probably do a bit more research and revisit this subject and clean up loose ends at a later date.


The notion of a “global village” has been around for years. It most often refers to the idea that telecommunications has made it relatively easy for any individual on the planet to be in contact with any other individual on the planet. Imagine being able to call/Skype, etc. Kosovo from Kansas as easily as ringing your friend on Elm Street from your house a few blocks away. But I think we’re moving into a phase where the citizens of our “global village” are not the billions of humans walking the planet. I think the village is shrinking and now contains just 190 to 196 citizens (depending on whose count you trust). The United Nations has 193 member states. Other sources list the number of countries in the world at anywhere between 189 and 196, depending on what qualifies as a “country”. The border between those 189-196 countries is miniscule. It’s measured in microseconds.

Thanks to social media, 24-hour news cycles, and ubiquitous cellular communication, we instantly hear about anything and everything from every corner of the world,. As a result markets respond to events that heretofore had no effect on them. Outrage over hate crimes and atrocities is felt on a global scale. Are we too sensitive? Yes, probably. But as much as self-preservation and greed are base human traits, so is empathy.

Now when you couple global outrage with a world population that can’t sustain itself in the manner to which it would like to become accustomed, the attendant scarcity of everything from oil, water, food and housing, to jobs, flat screen TVs, the latest iPhone, and Twix bars, has countries scrambling to protect what’s theirs. And, everyone hears about it instantly, and starts hoarding Twix bars. Then, presto change-o, seemingly overnight we have the rampant tribalism of Right Wing xenophobia, and talk of walls and refugee exclusion, or exclusion of anyone who ever ate a Twix bar. Like it or not the world is now hopelessly interconnected.

I’ve written before about discovering just how globally aware other countries are in comparison to America and the ways in which American elections affect other countries. But in recent months the need for a global awareness and education on a range of issues, that previously need not concern the everyman, has become critical. From Brexit, the Syrian conflict (and the refugee crisis), to the American election, it’s become clear that all of our fortunes are linked.

In the last week I’ve been amazed that, here in Ireland, every conversation between an American and anyone from anywhere else begins with, “So, Trump….(pregnant pause)…..”What do you think”. And, here in Ireland, where Trump’s promise to bring jobs back to America could very well scare a few major employers back to the U.S., or at least cause a serious downsizing, the implications are very real, and potentially devastating. Everyone is watching and waiting. And, at the same time, we’re still positioning ourselves for the local fallout from Brexit.

But even with those uncertainties floating around, I was heartened to see that Ireland announced this week that it is still actively welcoming refugees, and is counted among the countries most responsive to the refugee crisis.

We now live in a world where small “local” decisions have global implications. In our village of around 190 citizens when somebody has a cold, we all rightly worry about catching it. Yet we also have the capacity to quickly effect great change. But we must educate ourselves, and be willing to forego the tribalism of scarcity for the empathy of our humanity.

Glenn K.
Dublin, November 2016

About Glenn Kaufmann

I'm an American freelance writer, photographer, and web publisher. I specialize in writing about travel, food, arts, and culture. I also write dramatic scripts for stage and screen. I'm based in Ireland.
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5 Responses to A Global Village: Why We Are All Immigrants in a Village of 196 Citizens

  1. Dan Price says:

    You can increase the number of residents in that village by one; the entity formerly known as the United States is actually two countries now. Perhaps we should rename ourselves the Disunited States.

  2. Sue says:

    Does Ireland seem to be fending off this nationalist fervor? I’m concerned about France’s election in 2017. I found your page while looking around, trying to figure out what to do. My husband works in software and I was thinking we might look at moving out of the US for a few years. We have very young children and it’s very scary here right now. I only worry that I would feel guilty about not being here to help, but most of the things I can do to help I can do from afar. Like many Americans I’m of Irish descent, so I feel a connection to Ireland.

  3. Lois Farley Shuford says:

    Thank you, Glenn – thoughtful post as always. Ireland is what gives me hope. I have been embarrassed to call my Irish friends. It is incomprehensible what has just happened to the US. So we’ve learned that those states are not so united after all. We are coming over again in the spring – our every other year visit. I’m tempted to get a one-way ticket.

  4. Emma Kimenhour says:

    Good Evening Glenn,
    My friend and I happened across your blog when researching Dublin, and the nuances that come along with moving there. We have been enamored with the country and the city itself. We have been playing around with the idea of moving there and have a trip planned in Jan. to feel everything out, and see if we vibe with the city. Any pointers/places when visiting? Interested in meeting up with us Philadelphians, and showing us a knowledgable hand? Any and all information would be more than appreciated. Hope all is going well!
    Emma (friend is Erin).

  5. JG says:

    Not everyone in the US is a liberal and many, as can be seen by the election are fed up with the direction of the country. Trump, with his many flaws has a sense of direction that many have found to be refreshing and are not opposed to needed change. Give the man a chance to see what his policies do and what the results will bring. Being an financial subsidizer to the the planet, finding an alarming increase and infiltration of gangs. drugs, terrorism, anti-assimilation and corporate greed along with a continuum of “sewer” politics at the highest level (follow the money) has caught up with the American “Joe” and what he/she sees as a path leading to more continued distress within the psychic and the economy of the US. It was time for a shakeup and a change-let’s see what happens with the current leadership and offer reasonable support since the public has spoken out loud and clear on what it is they want to see happen.

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