The Global Schoolhouse

Globalization University: Time to Pack Our Bags

moving up?

People can have several layers of loyalty. You can be loyal to your family and your community and your nation. So why can‚Äôt you also be loyal to humankind as a whole? Of course, there are occasions when it becomes difficult‚ÄĒwhat to put first‚ÄĒbut, you know, life is difficult; handle it.

‚ÄĒYuval Noah¬†Harari, ‚ÄúNationalism vs. Globalism: The New Political Divide‚ÄĚ (2017)

The world is changing. It‚Äôs moving from a patchwork of individual nations to a collective mix of nations, corporations, and power brokers. It‚Äôs moving from nationalization to globalization. People may argue that this shift has been going on for decades, which it has, but now the excitement has worn off and the reality of change‚ÄĒthat daunting task that underlies any big move‚ÄĒis setting in. We‚Äôre graduating¬†from The Global Schoolhouse of the 20th Century and enrolling in the Globalization University of¬†the 21st.

For some this transition is fraught with anxiety. Others see it as an exciting time full of opportunity and a better future. Regardless of our feelings, the actual transition can be painful. There are costs to change.

Think of the last time you moved: There was the time-consuming packing process, where we boxed everything up; the moving process, which left our backs sore and our muscles achy; followed by the unpacking process, which felt like deja vu after packing in the first place. Where do the boxes go? Where does the stuff inside the boxes go? Why do we have so much crap?! But possibly the hardest part of the whole moving process is the initial step: We must first decide what stays and what goes.

From my vantage point, this is where humanity finds itself today. We are trying to determine what to keep and what to throw out. This is an extremely difficult task for a world where we‚Äôve accumulated enormous amounts of “stuff”‚ÄĒvarious different languages, religions, and cultural identities; unique customs, clothing, and holidays; separate currencies, laws, and governing bodies; and often differing political wills, motivations, and priorities. A global world requires that some of these historical accumulations are thrown out, some are kept, and most (if not all) are restructured, repurposed, and relocated.

The world is moving house. We‚Äôre going away to college. We‚Äôre moving into a crowded dorm with all sorts of people from all around the world. This is Globalization University, where navigating our own national heritage is just as awkward and messy as 18-year-old co-eds trying to “find themselves” at a Freshman kegger.

It is certainly an exciting time to be alive, but that doesn‚Äôt mean that it‚Äôs an easy time. We‚Äôre merely in the packing process‚ÄĒjust getting started‚ÄĒand already there is global backlash. Much of this outcry¬†comes from a combination of what psychologists call the¬†endowment effect and loss aversion. Respectively, we put more value on things that are ours simply because they‚Äôre ours (endowment effect). And consequently, we perceive a more significant loss when our stuff is¬†taken away.¬†This includes ownership of concrete entities like factories and jobs becoming¬†“redundant,” as well as abstract ownership like specific ways of life or cultural identity. When our way is in jeopardy, emotions run high, objections flow freely, and we fight like hell not to avoid loss.

It’s important to remember, however, that while packing and moving are difficult, we’re not alone. When we show up to Globalization University on move-in day and look around at all the other students unpacking in front of our dorm, we should remember that all those fresh faces went through the same process. They’re going through it now. Our global peers are struggling with this move too. Whatever nation we come from, global dorm life is something none of us have ever experienced. It’s not nations that solely cause globalization; technology stretches beyond political and geographic borders. We’re in this together (for better or for worse).


Harari, Yuval Noah. ‚ÄúNationalism vs. Globalism: The New Political Divide.‚ÄĚ TED. Feb. 2017. Lecture. (Source)

*This essay is a¬†follow up to¬†the series, “The Global Schoolhouse,” originally published on December 2016. You can read Part 1¬†here.


The Cliff of Care

too muchImportance is the worst thing to put on art, comedy‚ÄĒcreativity of any kind. […] If you think this is important, you’re screwed before you write the first word.

‚ÄĒJerry Seinfeld,¬†Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee with Lewis Black

What is the difference between caring too much and not enough? Sometimes it’s just one last straw‚ÄĒone final incident that pushes us over the edge. We see this at our workplaces, contrasting an excited¬†intern with the embattled veteran clocking in and out like a robot. We see it with new parents who trade fashion for durability. And we see it in politics when the news creates such a piercing noise that we simply go deaf to the din.

Like eating or drinking too much, our care has a breaking point. A gluttonous night out can force our stomach from too full to completely empty in an instant, and it is this momentary purge that exemplifies the Cliff of Care. With so many names‚ÄĒoutrage fatigue, clarity, burnout, calm, apathy, patience‚ÄĒit can be difficult to know whether the valley beyond the cliff is a safe place to be. As with any journey, it depends on how we got there and our attitude along the way.

Once we reach the cliff’s edge, we can either walk off gracefully, landing softly on the ground below, or get pushed, kicking and screaming, breaking bones on the way down. This is the difference between coming to peace with our situation or becoming apathetic in our resentment. The graceful among us land on their feet through the power of perspective. These are the people who after battling illness, divorce, violence,¬†bankruptcy, discrimination, and many other hardships, still find the positive in each challenge, putting them into perspective. They are calm and kind despite every reason not to be. And they serve as inspiration to “get over” whatever small annoyances we face in life.

Unfortunately, the less gracious cliff jumpers‚ÄĒthe ones who bitterly or hopelessly give up the will to care‚ÄĒalso exist. Fortunately, the Cliff of Care is not a standalone phenomenon. We may tumble off the cliff and become apathetic to the politics of our world¬†but safely detached at work, no longer wrapping our self-worth¬†in¬†what our boss thinks. This is where awareness can be helpful. Just by knowing about the difference between being on the cliff and being in the valley can help us safely navigate our way.

Detaching emotionally is not something we can will ourselves to do (at least, not immediately). Stepping off the cliff allows us to leave behind our emotional baggage, but first it requires a¬†gradual climb of frustration. This is why telling someone they need to just “get over it” rarely works. Seeing the cliff for what it is can make us come across as callous or cold-hearted when dealing with those who have not yet moved on. Brushing off¬†their emotional concerns as unimportant is seen as dismissive. Rather than pushing them off the cliff to a painful, bitter landing, we must try to remember what it was like to be atop the cliff, empathize, and help guide them down safely.

Conversely, when we‚Äôre stranded on¬†the peak¬†of care, pulling our hair out, and wondering why no one else gives a shit, it is difficult to see our position for what it is. We don’t have the perspective. Holding on to what feels important can be blinding. Whether it’s the cleanliness of the kitchen, quarterly sales at work, or death¬†of a loved one, not everyone is going to understand our level of care.¬†And while intense care can motivate us to act, we shouldn‚Äôt expect others to follow. When we find ourselves in isolation in a sea of seeming apathy, it may be time for self-reflection. It is immodest to think that we are the only sane people in a world full of crazies.

cliff of care_graph