Global citizenship: Civis Mundi Sum is a thirty-year project to empower a movement for positive global activism.

Author:Parkinson, Jack
Position::Interview with Matt Foster - Interview

AS I APPROACHED Matt Foster's house in a Cambridge suburb, I realized that it didn't look like the house of a political revolutionary.

In fact, it was an altogether unremarkable Cambridge house: quaint and nicely maintained, but not doing much to stand out against the backdrop of the neighbourhood surrounding it. When Foster answered the door and invited me inside, my thinking continued this way: nice furniture, an expansive kitchen, but not the hubbub of activity most people associate with political movements. Foster himself was a friendly man well into his senior years, very soft-spoken and polite. Despite this, he had a firm handshake -1 got the impression there was a lot beneath his surface, and I was about to be proven right.

We said hello before Foster and I walked upstairs to the room where he had been working towards world citizenship for three decades. Like the rest of the house, it was plain. Two desks, two chairs, two moderately old computers. A filing shelf filled with books and binders of notes. From this room, the organization Civis Mundi began.

Foster's idea of a world citizen is more or less what you'd think it is. There are many problems with the world, and many of them affect the entire world. Thus, if the human race wants to effectively fix these problems, we need a way of reaching out to each other and working across national borders.

"All change comes from the bottom up," Foster told me, paraphrasing one of his favoured quotes from Chomski.

Foster's goal is quite literally to change the world--most people would scoff at the Idea, but he gave me an example which helped translate It into practical terms.

There are many international activist groups, Foster reasons, but there are also many groups who also work within a single country only. National focus can help a lot of groups in terms of narrowing down their actions, but it can also mean a lot of repetition is necessary for worldwide progress.


"It's all fine and noble, but they're working within a single nation, within a single legislative process," Foster said.

If Canada wants to outlaw the production and sale of an environmentally hazardous substance, for instance, then all the effort to get that through Canadian legislation will need to be repeated for dozens of countries around the globe. It only makes sense for the world's people to have some common banner under which to unite and speak up in favour of positive change.

That's where Civis Mundi comes in: the...

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