Think Globally/Locally, Act Globally/Locally
By: Ben Boruff
I was sheltered as a child. As far as I knew, the world didn’t extend far beyond my Cocoa Puffs and Garfield comics. This wasn’t a case of overprotective parents; in fact, they were fairly lenient with my curfew since I was the youngest of three children. Instead, as an introvert, I tended to steer away from a number of cultured experiences as a child.
In college I am beginning to recognize my continued unawareness of global issues that never crossed my mind as a child. The global nature of environmental concerns never truly entered my thoughts, nor did my young mind grasp the concept of the diversity of cultures.
Though I certainly don’t claim to be cultured today, I am beginning to see myself on a global scale. I am beginning to understand the great benefits of travel. I am beginning to listen to the stories of strangers from other places. I am beginning to see the responsibility I have to the world. I am now beginning to understand why it is important to view the world and my responsibility within the world through different lenses. Here are three such lenses through which to see the world.
Lens One: Think globally and act locally. This combines a heart for global justice with the knowledge that every smaller community must do its part. To think globally means that we see the big picture; we think of humanity as a species with complex problems that must be solved as a whole. Acting locally, while thinking globally, requires us to see our local communities as a part of this whole. In a local church, this means being aware of the larger, global Body of Christ. It also means knowing how the needs of the world match the needs of the local community.
Lens Two: Think locally and act globally. This method insists that we remember our roots. I was educated in a public school in Indiana, and that influence will remain with me throughout my life. As I become more globally aware, I still remember my roots in Indiana. I still remember my roots in a suburban neighborhood and in my local United Methodist church. These roots impact the way that I interact with others.
Lens Three: Think globally and act globally. This perspective is large in scale. Imagine floating in space, looking down at the globe, and asking yourself, “What does the world need? And how can I fill that need?” Or, to give another image, imagine sitting in a room in which the walls and ceiling are filled with pictures of every individual on the globe. Now ask yourself, “How can I help them? What legislative action, activism, or global movement would benefit them?”
Ministry to the world requires all three perspectives. No perspective one better than the other. As I grow older—I am now twenty—I have learned that I can better understand my local community when I know my global community; I can better help my global community when I use resources from my local community; and I must consider and have compassion for all people in order to help all people. This means that I must understand others and our connection to the whole.
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