Hailing from the UK, Mac Salman of Maction Planet classes himself as a Tokyoite, opening up Japan to his clients. He also believes strongly in the importance of global citizenship and how it can benefit all of us.
Mac Salman grew up in the UK but views his real home as Tokyo, where he has made his life and intends to remain.
In his Dear Global Citizen letter, he speaks passionately about the need for the world to rethink the way it works along more beneficial, global lines. He also discusses the dangers in the concept of a national identity and how we can reconcile that identity alongside our global identities – these types of solutions are sorely needed today.
Take a look at his thoughts below.
Introducing Global Citizen… Mac Salman
- What do you do? I run Maction Planet, a travel company based in Tokyo specialising in bespoke tours and experiences across Japan, and a Tokyo knowledge and travel website, Tokyo Authority
- Years Abroad: 14
- Home? I consider myself to be of every place and no place. I am ‘from’ the UK, but to me that is just a function of my birth and where I grew up before I was able to make my own decisions. I live in Tokyo
- Languages: English, Arabic, French, Spanish, Italian and Japanese
- Where will you be five years from now? Tokyo. It’s without a doubt the World’s Greatest Metropolis.
And Tokyo Authority here:
Dear Global Citizen…
I am a global citizen, simultaneously being of both every place and no place. Having journeyed to over 100 countries, it is my profound belief that this ideal of global citizenship represents the future of humanity.
Global citizenship is a concept that is open to diverse understandings and broad interpretation, as it should be, given the complex world in which we live. A global citizen is a person who has an appreciation of the wider world and their place in it. A person whose identity transcends genetics, geography, politics, creed and citizenship. A person who values diversity and whose responsibilities are to the human race as a whole. This ability to understand different perspectives can be achieved through many means, be it through international travel, social activism, social media and / or interacting with people of different nationalities and beliefs.
I find it bizarre that in the 21st century, people are, and still choose to be, defined by their birthplace. That we are so wedded to the piece of dirt that we popped out on, and of someone else’s choosing.
Having a fixed idea of identity leads you to view all new information as either a threat to that identity, or confirmation of it.
What is global citizenship?
I understand that people naturally form communities based on geography, shared interests or beliefs and may feel a duty to others within those groups more than to those outside of them.
However, this doesn’t need to define our entire world view. Having a fixed idea of identity leads you to view all new information as either a threat to that identity, or confirmation of it. The first step towards meaningful change is awareness. It may be a genetic predisposition to gravitate to those like yourself, but that we understand this allows us to rise beyond it.
We live in an age that favours the global citizen. Today, billions have more tools, more access to information and more capacity to influence current conditions in our society than ever before. Every single voice can be heard. These changing dynamics are in large part due to the internet as well as the affordability of international travel. The world has evolved, and those of us who are part of this evolution will be on the right side of the future.
We live on a planet whose systems, both natural and manmade, are inextricably linked; complex and interdependent. Implicit within global citizenship is the recognition of this interconnectedness – respecting diversity and human rights, advocating global social justice, and feeling a sense of responsibility for the planet. Choices made locally can have global repercussions.
Connecting with people around the world allows us to see that we share more similarities than differences. All humans seek the same basic necessities, and ensuring that others have access to those is more important than the prosperity of your own country or your personal prosperity alone. We need the understanding of differences to lead to positive actions of inclusivity rather than discrimination.
Reconciling nationalism vs. globalism
At every level, the state of the global society in the age of globalisation is not being adequately addressed. People can easily move countries, buy goods from everywhere, and build businesses and personal relationships across the planet. And yet, regulations, both national and international, have not recognised the new world we all operate in. Digital streaming services abound, yet many media are still bound by archaic regulations originating from a time when their distribution was physically based.
It is often the law that is the last to catch up with major social upheavals, and it certainly has not caught up with the acceleration of global mobility of people and finance. Protectionism abounds. Advances in space technology and astronomy are progressing at a much faster rate than other branches of science due to the higher levels of international openness and collaboration in these fields. One wonders how quickly we could find a COVID-19 vaccine if we were able to do away with the ‘viral sovereignty’ that is impeding progress?
Part of being a global citizen is the fight against nationalism. We have long been taught to be patriotic at the expense of others around the world. Parochialism offers a false choice of isolation or assimilation. We need to stop seeing life as a zero-sum game. The entire planet is our home, and global leaders who bombast otherwise are mired in outdated doctrines and attitudes. Nations have used political, economic and military strategies to maintain control of society. Now it is time for another metric — basic decency and morality — to guide international relations.
For those concerned this means the end of international sport – don’t be! A sense of duty to your motherland can coexist with ethical commitments to the rest of the world. Good-natured competition with other countries can thrive alongside the fight for global equality. You do not have to abandon your political ideas or support for athletes at international competitions. Celebrating diversity is essential, as is recognising our shared beliefs and history.
Now it is time for another metric — basic decency and morality — to guide international relations.
With more global citizens active in our world, every single one of the major challenges we face — poverty, climate change, gender inequality, racism, pandemics — become solvable. These are global issues, and they can only be solved by global citizens demanding global solutions from leaders and locals alike. International treaties often address some of these issues formally. However, as global citizens, we have a responsibility to uphold them at a micro-level (a local level within our own communities). And on this halcyon global playing field, there is no room for blaming and shaming tactics: one world, one team, one goal.
The positives of global citizenship
Global citizenship can have far-reaching benefits for individuals and consequently, humanity as a whole. As travel increases, responsible tourism can grow employment, increase resources for education and health, reduce inequality while contributing to national economies at large. By making responsible consumer decisions, we can contribute to ensuring fair pay and fair work conditions for all.
I view global citizenship as akin to vaccination or education. The higher level of both benefits everyone in society – wellbeing and protection not at the expense of self-interest alone. Schools, families and the media can play an important role, helping to cultivate open-minded individuals who are curious and discerning about the world around them, who strive for environmental sustainability and the eradication of social wrongs, making it a better place for all.
Where our Global Citizen has called home
I am a British citizen. I am an Exonian. I am the child of immigrants. I am a brother. I am a businessman. I am a scientist. I am a linguist. I am a world traveller. I am me, with all the complexity that entails.
I am a Tokyoite. The declining population of Japan means the country needs foreign residents. Japan has a deep-rooted history of isolation and protectionism. However, many Japanese words have foreign origins and Tokyo is a melting pot of food cultures. Watching the city transform over the next few decades will be fascinating. I want to help Tokyo be at the forefront of the growth in global citizenship and the enlightenment of humanity.
Wishing peace, love and prosperity for all.