When someone announces they are a Citizen of the World, it is usually in response to an off-colour remark by a knuckle dragger in the saloon bar.
For many years I regarded this particular pronouncement as the preserve of the student politician. But now I get it. Despite the fact that I am immensely proud to call myself an Englishman, I really don’t understand the flag-waving chest-thumpers who believe that our small island is the centre of the Universe.
But patriotism isn’t exclusive to Little Englanders, as millions the world over subscribe to the view that their nation is the cock of the walk. Clearly this is not new as international and cultural differences have been at the heart of conflicts throughout the centuries, but you would have thought that in the 21st Century we would have learnt from the painful lessons of history.
But over the past few weeks the world, and in particular Europe, has appeared to be as divided as at any time in living memory. Our Government has been involved in a stalemate with its French counterparts over the heartbreaking migrant crisis, which is in danger of dividing our continent. There have been claims and counter-claims from both sides, with each accusing the other of creating a situation which has seen a tide of migrants head for northern France in a bid to reach our shores.
These are people who have put themselves and their families into debt to make a treacherous journey across the Mediterranean with the vain hope of making a better life in Europe and, in many cases, this nation of ours.
Personally, I subscribe to the minority view that these desperate folk deserve a safe haven based purely on the basis of the dreadful journeys they have undertaken. Politicians call these poor souls economic migrants when the fact is that many are refugees.
Last week, we were told nearly 60 million people are now exiled from their homes, with 19.5 million of them officially classed as refugees. Those are figures that anybody with an ounce of compassion should be appalled at, yet we still get the cries of “we don’t want them here”.
Rather than turn our backs on fellow human beings in their hour of need, we should put aside our own petty concerns and present them with an outstretched hand. It has taken me a long time to realise that being a Citizen of the World doesn’t mean I am a Leftie student, it simply means that I care about my fellow man.