Thursday, April 23, 2009

Citizen of the World

''If what philosophers say about the kinship of God and man is true, then the only logical step is to do as Socrates did, never responding to the question of where he was from with, 'I am Athenian', or 'I am from Corinth', but always, 'I am a citizen of the world'. After all, why say, 'I am Athenian'? Why not just identify yourself with the exact spot your sorry body was dropped at birth? Clearly, you prefer the higher designation because it includes not just that insignificant spot, it also includes your parents and all your ancestors before you; and it is on these grounds that you characterise yourself as a Corinthian or an Athenian.

''But anyone who knows how the whole universe is administered knows that the first, all-inclusive state is the government composed of God and man. He appreciates it as the source of the seeds of being, descending upon his father, his father's father- to every creature born and bred on earth, in fact, but to rational beings in particular, since they alone are entitled by nature to govern alongside God, by virtue of being connected to him through reason. So why not call ourselves citizens of the world and children of God? And why should we fear any human contingency.''
-Epictetus, Stoic philosopher of the second century, A.D.

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