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The Groundbreaker Roundtables 2: Citizen Of The World Edition

Welcome to the almost weekly series on The Mad To Live: The Traveling Philosopher’s Roundtable: Citizen Of The World Edition. Each week a group of hand picked world-traveling, life-inspiring, dream-pursuing bloggers from all walks of life will share their personal opinions, stories and insights based on a question stemming from a quote,  event, video, photo, etc. They get 150 words to share something brilliant, and they always do.


How do you answer someone when they ask you, “So, where are you from?” Do you tell them the location you’re technically a citizen of? Do you tell them everywhere you’ve been and lived? If you define yourself as a citizen of the world, it can become a much more complicated answer than the good ole, “I’m from (Insert 1 city, state, country)”.

Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we…

The merriem-webster dictionary tells us that “citizen” is defined as a “member of the state.” However, if we look atthe history of the word “citizen” we soon find that this word didn’t originally just mean we owe allegiance to a specific country. From Old French “citezein”, from Latin “civitas”, and finally from a Proto-Indo-European base *kei- “to lie, homestead.”

In essence, it derives from the word “home”.

Francis Bacon Sr., English philosopher of the 17th century, once told us, “If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them.”

Greek philosopher Diogenes told a story about a man whom, “when asked where he came from, replied ‘I am a citizen of the world.‘”

Socrates claimed, “I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.

The Discussion: Reflecting on what these philosophers said and what it means to be a “citizen”, what does it mean to be a citizen of the world in your eyes? How would you describe such a person? What kind of traits do they have and do they lack? And furthermore, what is “home” to you in your own personal experiences? How are you a citizen of the world?


Citizens Of The World Erica and ShaunErica and Shaun of Overyonderlust: 1 Awesome Couple, 2 Different Angles

Erica: I think the term citizen of the world has changed over time due to the introduction of social media and technology as a whole. There is an increased sense of connectivity that just wasn’t there before. We are looking beyond borders and making friends all over the world. As long as you can have good company, home can be anywhere!

Shaun: You can never truly begin to understand people until you have spent time living as they do.

The most important thing I have learned in our travels is the value of respect. Good or bad, the way we treat each other on a global scale can have longstanding effects. I believe that a citizen of the world spends their time doing everything they can to make the world a better place, one experience at a time.

Caz Citizen Of The World Caz Makepeace of yTravelBlog: Open Mind, Open Heart, Open Eyes

A citizen of the world is someone who is open to embrace what is wonderful and unique about each culture around the world and does not feel insecure or intimidated by this. They don’t allow their own limiting cultural beliefs to prevent them from visiting a new country, trying different food, or speaking to someone who believes differently to them.

A citizen of the world understands that we can all get along; there is no need to compete or try to outdo each other. They know the most important thing is the similarities that unite us, whilst celebrating the experience of the differences.

Home is not a physical place that I can define, it is a space I occupy where I feel most alive. One moment it might be wandering the busy Bangkok night markets, another chasing lions across the savannah, or another sitting with my Irish friends drinking Guinness.

Kim - Citizen of The WorldKim Dinan of So Many Places: Everything Is Connected

A citizen of the world understands how his or her actions affect the world. If you are a consumer of anything (and I bet you are!) you have a responsibility to understand that there are people all over the world that are working themselves and the earth, perhaps inequitably, to provide a product to you. Every single choice you make affects a long line of people all over the world. A citizen of the world understands that everything is connected.

I feel most at home when I am in nature, miles and miles from most humans. Wendell Barry said that the earth is what we all have in common, and I believe that. My connection to the natural world means that I can feel at home in many places on this planet. And because I need natural places to survive I am driven to protect the planet. That’s what makes me a citizen of the world.

Melvin - Citizen Of The WorldMelvin of Travel Dudes: Global Citizen = Respect + Accept

We are all citizen of the world!

We are living in the time of globalization. But not everyone realize and behaves like that, sadly. Global citizen shouldn’t just respect, but also accept others.

Home for me is a place where I feel good. The place I was born, the places where I lived in the past and hopefully also in future.

I never thought of saying this someday, but it’s also the www, where you can meet and make new friends wherever they are.

For my part, I try to get travelers together and to share travel experiences via Traveldudes. I hope to encourage other, to travel the world and to crash barriers and to enjoy the world with all it offers.

It’s about treating your environment with respect every day. It starts with saving energy, buying fare trade products, supporting Greenpeace, WWF & other organizations and ends with sharing my opinion!

Jon and Andrea - Citizen Of The WorldJon and Andrea of Inspiring Travelers: Not Where Your From, But Where You Are

We struggle when asked where we’re from. John’s in the enviable position of being able to answer simply: Perth. We then both hesitate, because that’s not really an accurate answer regarding hometown. Andrea was raised in a place where she no longer has family and hasn’t returned to in 14 years. We’ve lived in Melbourne for the last four, but that isn’t really home either.

Instead we choose to be at home on whatever ground we are standing. As expats we’ve had to accept the challenges of language, acceptance and cultural differences. Part of being a citizen of the world is to see these things as opportunities rather than obstacles. The trick is to have an open heart. When travelling, we don’t feel a divide between ourselves and the locals. When the earthquake hit Christchurch, it really had an impact on us because we’ve been in New Zealand all summer.

Andi - Citizen Of The World Andi of My Beautiful Adventures: Home Is The World, Not Where You Pay Rent

Whenever someone asks me where I am from, my gut reaction is to say that I am a “citizen of the world.” Of course I respond that I am from the United States, although I have always felt that my home is the world and not the place in which I am paying rent. I think to be a true citizen of the world you must have the desire to explore every inch of it, however I think it is more than that. I think not only should you love traveling, but you should also love people and should want to contribute to making the world a better place. Even when I am not on the road, I make this a priority in my life.


We all have different stories, opinions, lessons and wisdom to share. So, what would you add to this roundtable discussion? What’s your definition of a citizen of the world? How are you one? How does one become one? And what does the word “home” mean to you?

Check out amazing past Roundtables here! And if you’d like to be part of a future one shoot me an email here and tell me what kind of discussions you’d be right for!

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About Lauren Rains

Life gets pretty f*cking nuts sometimes, doesn't it? Every day I wake up more to myself and more to this world. This website is an expression of that.

Space Travelers is multi-layered exploration of our existence here on this rock we call Earth. We're going to talk about the matrix, UFOs, and astral travel, and explore our awakening into the divine masculine and feminine. We'll discover our bodies both the physical and subtle body. We'll contemplate the sacredness of mother earth and the concept of who/what the hell made this place in the first place?

I also aim to keep this website rooted and grounded, referring to topics that are effecting us in the here and now, such as fighting against the oppression of women worldwide, pealing away layers of social conditioning greedy capitalists are using to turn us into consumers, and navigating this insane technological revolution before the AI take over. I can geek out on consciousness up in space all day, but life happens here on the ground and this is the time we were born into.

This website is about integrating into our full human experience, aligning with ourselves and with each other, shedding skins and transcending into the unfolding layers of ourselves.

My wish for you, and for myself, is to unfold and evolve into our highest selves. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. We need not sell our souls to the status quo.

I'm on the journey too. I write this blog to speak to others who are waking up, or who desire to wake up. Because we can't do this alone.

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  • First things first, Thanks so much to Erica & Shuan, Caz, Melvin, Andi, Andrea & Jon, & Kim – you guys rock and inspire more people with your stories & experiences than you could ever imagine! It is awesome to know such badass, wonderful, open-minded citizens of the world. There needs to be more of you out there!

    If there is one thing that connected all of your answers it was to simply be open – be open in terms of where your home is, how you view differences and similarities, the way you react to challenges and obstacles, the outlook you have on the “right” way to live life, etc.
    Thanks so much for sharing! See you across a few borders one day! 🙂

  • Great Discussion Laur 🙂

    I think a citizen of the world is someone who can make a “Home” for themselves no matter where they are at the “present moment”.
    It’s not something someone aims to be but simply something that is born within your soul. You either have it or you don’t.
    It goes hand in hand with what your values are and what you deem as important no matter where you rest your head at night.
    It means caring enough about the environment everywhere you find yourself, to leave it the way you found it or even better when you leave.
    It means caring for and wanting to help those whom you randomly come across, human or animals that need it.
    It means being humble enough to fit into any society or way of life and learn from it.
    A citizen of the world is simply a “passionately curious” individual who accepts early on that his mission in this world is to follow his dreams while leaving a small environmental footprint behind and leading by examples of kindness and awareness.
    A citizen of the world sees the beauty in every moment and knows how lucky they are 🙂


    • Jessika you officially have one of the most awesome definitions of a citizen of the world. And rightly so being you are one of them! 🙂

      There is so much I could say in response to this and I feel we could talk forever about it! I especially like the part you wrote about it being “born within your soul”. Being a citizen of the world is just who you are, ya know? Because you’re right, it does go hand in hand with our values, and our values are located at our root. They’re really what ultimately drives us. And its our values that make us citizens of the world.

      And I think the other part about being a citizen world that is so important is what you said in terms of feeling the natural responsibility and want to make the world a better place. And we do that not just be helping the environment and those around us, but my following our dreams so we can be the best person we can be.

      Thanks so much for sharing Jessika, fellow citizen of the world 🙂

    • Hear! hear! to the passionately curious!

  • I also ALWAYS answer this question with “a citizen of the world.” I very strongly believe that you can not qualify to answer this question in that manner unless you have traveled a bit. You have experiences life outside of where you are from to get this. Of course people can empathize and support other peoples of the world from their living room, but I don’t they are truly living the definition. You have to be open to the fact that there are problems and issues in every country, in every society, in every government, and you have to rise above that and see the good, embrace the positive, and possibly evoke change without arrogance, without “knowing better.” You have to go some place and leave better and you have to leave the stereotypes behind!

    • Andi, your definition of “a citizen of the world” is amazing! I love it 🙂
      It seems like many people think that every other country, or society, or government, or religion is so much worse off and unstable than their own, but when it comes down to it, we all have issues: big and small there are problems everywhere, and there always will be.
      The trick is to recognize it and to see the positive, try to improve the negative, and accept what you can not change / what does not want to change.
      THank you so much for sharing Andi! You are awesome 🙂

  • Amazing roundtable, and some really great answers, but I really have to applaud Kim’s, as it really stuck out and spoke to me about what being a citizen of the world means to me.

    So in love with this series Lauren!!

    • Kim

      Thanks Dalene. It was really fun to think about what being a citizen of the world means to me (and so many others- like you)!

  • Continue to love this series Lo! First of all, you chose some of my favorites. All of these travelers are peeps I’ve enjoyed following on Twitter and their blogs.

    I always find it difficult to tell people where I’m from. Especially now when I don’t have a home to go back to. I liked what Lao Tzu said when he stated: “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” I see this not so much as the concrete term of “arrive”. I think a citizen of the world doesn’t see things through the eyes of the media, stereotypes, and so on, but sees things for what they are. In that sense, there’s never a feeling of having “arrived”. That is, there are always opportunities to experience something different and do some good in the world, all the while seeing change take place in yourself.

    • Hey Spencer!
      There are many things I can rely on you for, including an awesome comment!!! 🙂
      That Lao Tzu quote is one of my favorite ones out there. Short and sweet but has so much meaning behind it. So much of life is just BEING in the NOW. And to be a real traveler and a real citizen of the world we have to understand that and embrace it.
      Even on the most uneventful days, like taking an 18 hour bus trip from point A to B – it’s not about arriving at B, it’s about what goes on in your mind, what you see, the people you happen upon, the ideas you come up with on the way to point B. That’s the journey!
      Laur 🙂

  • I absolutely love this! I am traveling with my son with the intent of raising a global citizen and I have seen how this concept has broadened his perspective of the world. Your panel is brilliant and their thoughts are expanding my consciousness.. Thank you for this form and the introduction to many new travel bloggers.

    My favorite quote from this article: “A citizen of the world understands that we can all get along; there is no need to compete or try to outdo each other. They know the most important thing is the similarities that unite us, whilst celebrating the experience of the differences.” -Caz

    Thank you!!

    • Hey Lainie!
      I admire and respect you so much for raising your son to be a global citizen. I hope to do the very same when I have children in the future. Growing up my best friend was a true global citizen and it was him and his parents that really introduced me to the concept of travel and being a “citizen of the world”. Your son is surely going to do some amazing things as he grows older. He is a lucky guy.
      ANd I loved what Caz said too. She is a true traveling pro and is one of the most wonderful citizens of the world out there 🙂

  • Great insight from all. This line is my favorite: “Home Is The World, Not Where You Pay Rent.”

    • Hey Scott!
      I couldn’t agree more! That line from Andi totally resonated with me and I’ll never forget it!

  • really good and interesting discussions you’ve started here — keep up the good work

    • Hey Michael!

      Thanks so much I really appreciate that! It’s a blast to put together soon 🙂 And I also have you in mind for an upcoming one so expect something from me soon! I have a feeling your 150 word answer will pack a really good punch 🙂

  • Kim

    Hey Laur. Thanks so much for including me in this series. I love the questions and the inevitable thought and discussion that they create. Keep it up lady!

    • Hey Kim!
      It was my pleasure! Thanks so much for being a part of it! I absolutely loved your answer as well 🙂 We often forget the distance our choices go, not just on a small scale, but on a global scale. Thanks for putting that into perspective!
      – Laur

  • I loved love loved being a part of this awesome and interesting discussion. I enjoyed reading everyone’s responses. I hope that lots of people read this and decided to become “citizens of the world.” 🙂

    • Hey Andi!
      I definitely think many people will read this and be inspired to become and dive deeper into being citizens of the world! Thanks so much for contributing and I absolutely love the way you phrased what it means for you to be a citizen of the world. It’s not about where you’re currently paying rent, it’s about where you are at that moment or where your heart is in your memories. 🙂

  • Lauren,

    Thank you for including us in this round table! You got us thinking AND got Shaun to write his first bit of writing in months! <3 Great discussion going on!

    • Hey Erica!
      It was my pleasure! Thank you! And that is awesome that it got Shaun to write his first bit in some time! I hope that this casts some momentum for him 🙂 I’ll be sure to track you guys down for another roundtable in the near future to keep him on the right track haha 😛
      Your answers were awesome and I also loved that you both had something different to share. I dont typically talk about relationships on this blog, but it’s good to have yoru own opinions and insights on things…too many people out there just become ONE and that’s it, but that’s a totally different topic all together haha.
      Thanks so much for sharing! You two are some of the coolest travelers out there!
      Laur 🙂

      • Well, we’re quite a different couple than most – keeping our lives separate except for our so our opinions on things vary quite a bit.

        Now that Shaun is close to putting in his 2 weeks, he is looking forward to writing more. Thank you so much for getting him on that road! <3

  • You’ve chosen some great people to respond to your question this week, and it shows in their insightful answers!

    I think that a citizen of the world has to do their best to see what’s around them, no matter if it’s good, bad, scary, crazy, etc. In order to understand the vast cultural difference in the world, you have to allow your eyes to be open to the way other people have grown up and what makes them who they are. Also, in small moments to realize that even across these vast differences, we are all still human.

    I also think that it means always trying to see the best in people, always trying to learn to trust people and always trying to make the world a better place even in the face of feeling completely helpless.

    • Hey Annie!
      Your definition of a citizen of the world is awesome and I couldn’t agree more! What you mentioned there I strive to do each and every day whether I am traveling in a foreign country or simply coming across new people in the town I grew up in. It’s definitely about having an open mind towards everyone and not judging but learning form the differences.
      And as we learn more about these differences and similarities and how they work together, well, then we can really start to help to make the better. With greater understanding comes greater action, appreciation, respect, and decisions.
      Thanks so much for sharing! Your insights are really wonderful!
      Laur 🙂

  • These were really great to read and I love how everyone’s is so different yet true. Thank you so much for including us in this awesome roundup

    • Hey Caz!
      Thank you so much for contributing to it! I loved your answer and a big part of this roundtable was inspired by a post you wrote about it! You are a true citizen of the world and I feel lucky to have crossed paths with you!
      -Laur 🙂

  • Andrea and John

    Awesome topic and responses…loved reading what everyone else had to say. It was tough to answer in so few words! Excellent series =) well done! Thanks so much for including us

    • Hey Andrea and John!
      No, Thank you! It was a pleasure to feature you guys on t his and read your answer. I absolutely loved it!!!!! You can’t go wrong asking this kind of question to a couple of inspiring travelers 😛

  • Kick-ass collection, Lauren.

    Especially LUV Andi’s approach – “Home Is The World, Not Where You Pay Rent”.

    That’s how I ALWAYS felt too – belonging to the spot that I’m currently standing on. The world is so global we have to go beyond borders and feel like a child of the earth, no matter how FUCKING cheezy that sounds.
    (And it sounds pretty cheezy 🙂
    Luv the banner, luv the message. Feels like a site for the world.


    • Hey Mars!
      Thanks so much man. It was a blast to get this series going. I loved the topic too )
      What Andi said was one of my favorites too. It really puts things into perspective.
      Oh and don’t worry about the cheeziness haha. I can be so cheezy you don’t even want to know – sometimes it creeps its way out in my blog but I try to tone it down. I think I’ve watched too many chick flicks or something haha.
      Your mentality is awesome too – right where we are standing, being, eating, thinking, talking, connecting -that’s where we’re at. And be it we’re from the city or the burbs or a little nasty ass town in some redneck corner of America, it doesn’t really matter.
      And thanks for the kind words about The mad to live! I really appreciate that so much!!! 🙂
      – Laur 🙂

  • I was just thinking about this the other day! I always feel ridiculous when people ask where I’m from, because there’s no good answer. I usually say I’m from the U.S., give the name of the area I grew up in since I lived there longer than anywhere else and leave it at that, but if I get further into conversation with the person, things get confusing, since I haven’t officially lived there in about 7 years.

    I think being a citizen of the world is a state of mind, much more than a physical resting place: a curiosity about the traditions and beliefs of the person sitting next to you on the bus and a person living halfway around the world whom you’ve never met, an open-mindedness about everything from current events to food, and a sense of adventure that extends from new music to hiking trails.

    I love these roundtables, Lauren, keep up the great work!

    • Hey Jessalyn! Fellow Roundtable Alum and Citizen Of The World! 🙂
      I KNOW exactly what you mean and I relate so much! Your answer is awesome 🙂 I’ve had some of my best experiences just sitting on a bus getting from A to B and it was honestly the ride that was the best part of it, be it the wonderful person I was tlaking to or the view I got to see fly past me as I got there.
      It is so much about the journey.

      And in terms of saying where we’re really fun – well, I konw it’s tough to answer, but I love that our answer is so unique! Yea, I grew up in New Jersey, USA – but that’s not who I am. (And I am not like most ppl from NJ in how they are portrayed haha). I love being a citizen of the world! 🙂

      Thanks for sharing Jessalyn!
      Laur 🙂

  • Loving the responses here. It’s so easy to say that you are a citizen of the world but truly difficult to act upon it and understand what it means…the collective consciousness is essential to any travel journey. Great topic and choices all around!

    • Hey Charu!
      Right on – it is so much about the collective consciousness. It’s funny how being a citizen of the world is almost more of a feeling or a way of being, rather than a strict set of actions. A lot of it is just about who you are as a person, the way you view the world and people, and what your values are. 🙂

  • A great discussion which gives a lot of room for thought. One can be a citizen of the world without really having left their home country. We are all interconnected in such a way that we never dreamed possible.

    • Hey Natalie!
      I totally agree with that. Just because one hasn’t crossed hundreds of borders doesn’t mean they can’t do their part nor does it mean that they can’t understand the world. We can do many things form our own backyards 🙂

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  • Interesting post! I love reading the perspectives of different travelers. I would say American instead of “citizen of the world.” I mean, that’s what they’re REALLY asking– where did you grow up? Where is your family?– and it sounds less pretentious 🙂

    • Hey Leslie!
      Wow for some reason your comment got placed into my Spam box! But I just approved it so YEY! 🙂
      Yes I know what you mean, I do say American as well. But I think here I was talking more about where do you FEEL like you’re from, ya know? What place(s) FEEL like home? 🙂

  • Interesting subject Lauren!

    Loved how all your contributors and commentors had their own points. We especially enjoyed reading Caz and Andi’s thoughts on the matter.

    We also do believe that with the presence of technology, everyone can be a citizen of the world. Not everyone has the opportunity to travel but they might be able to absorb more knowledge and information through new media. Being aware of global issues and acting upon it from your living room is still better than traveling and living in your little oblivious bubble. Nevertheless, we do quite agree with Andi who commented that experiencing it and traveling a bit makes your proclamation as a world citizen more legit.

    Looking forward to more great posts Lauren!

    Tariq and Shaheera

    • Hey T&S!

      You make such a great point there and it’s so true. You can really be a citizen of the world from anywhere. You can help someone a million miles away from your computer. And you know what? There are still those that do travel and stay in their little bubble haha. So, it definitley isn’t all about WHERE you are physically, but WHERE you are in your mind as well 🙂
      – Laur 🙂

  • Mark Mauthner

    Hi Lauren,
    Just signed up and am loving your blog. This bit about world citizens got my fingers to the keyboard though….

    Kim, your thoughts resonate. I think being a world citizen is more about perspective than about pins on a map indicating one has been. The corollary though, is that that perspective often, but not always, developed in part by traveling. I have learning many things traveling “abroad”, but I also had the pleasure of working with a trail boss in the Canadian Rockies one summer who is, bar none, the most connected person in the bush I have ever met. Not sure if he has ever been to Europe, Africa or Asia, but wisdom applies anywhere. The connection port to the universe does not require a wide geographic footprint.

    A friend once told me he is a vegetarian because he feels humans have lost touch with where food (meat in particular) comes from. We were designing exhibits for a new mineral museum at the time and explained to him that that was a major message I wanted to get out about minerals…I think we have lost touch with where EVERYTHING comes from, not just food.

    A world citizen has respect for the world, and understands that the world is bigger than his or her surroundings, and that for every cause or action, there are effects: intended ones and unforeseen/distant ones.


    • Hey Mark!
      Wow what an awesome comment. Thank you so much for sharing those stories. And you make SUCH A GREAT POINT in your final paragraph to tie it all together. It’s insane what we do to our planet and more than ever in my life I’m starting to pay attention. I have to say that even a year or so ago I didn’t quite feel connected either. I didn’t really think about my food or the land I was standing on. I mean, I cared and I wasn’t reckless, but the connection – I will was a bit more oblivous to it.

      But I have changed so much. I’m paying attention now. I’m thinking. I’m considering. I’m seeking out answers. After I moved to China and I saw the pollution there, it opened my eyes. I saw just how terribly we can treat this world, not to mention each other.

      If we as individuals can learn more and more that our actions, be they big or small, have an affect on the entire globe, than this connection will grow among the masses even more, and maybe one day we’ll all as individuals, groups, nations, and a world make better decisions due b/c we finally do GET IT.

      Thanks for sharing Mark! This was really great to read.
      – Lauren