Saturday, September 19, 2009

Movement and the Transit Lounge

Pico Iyer, in his essay about transcontinental tribalism, "Living in the Transit Lounge", wonders what, if anything, the new Global Citizens feel strongly about. What are the passions we would live for? He asks. What are the ideals we would die for?

Once one removes nationality, patriotism, cultural and religious affiliations from the human equation one is left with ... not indifference, exactly, but an unusual degree of objective evaluation. It is incomprehensible to the nomad, Iyer writes, to want to die for one's country, for example. It is incomprehensible to the cross-cultural person to believe so strongly in any one culture as to willingly sacrifice oneself to it or for it.

But there is something we would die for, live for, something Iyer points to but does not recognise as the essence of the global existence.

It is Freedom.

Freedom to travel without due regard to borders. Freedom to live and work in many countries, freedom to interact with various cultures in their own language, freedom to get up and leave when the itch begins again.

Getting on a plane, for the global nomad, is coming home to all that is most familiar in the transnational life. The airplane, the transit lounge, these no-man's-land non-geographical spaces are the identifiers of our culture.

And we would fight to the hilt if anyone prevented us from continuing to move across the world. Because that movement is the essence of who we are.

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