Diamond Light
Newsletter of the Aquarian Age Community
2005 No. 4
Back Issues
The Tao of World Citizenship
"When the Lords of Compassion shall have spiritually civilized the Earth and made of it a Heaven, there shall be revealed to the Pilgrims the Endless Path which reaches to the Heart of the Universe. Man, then no longer man, will transcend nature and impersonally, yet consciously, in at-one-ment with all Enlightened Ones, help to fulfil the Law of the Higher Evolution, of which Nirvana is but the beginning."1
René Wadlow

World Citizenship is based on the knowledge that behind and above the wide variety of national laws, which reflect changing politics, cultural modes, and the momentary relations of power, there is a universal higher law. This higher law is the working of the Tao for balance and harmony with the aim of the full development of each person and of the world society.

Understanding the nature of balance and harmony owes much to the Tao Te Ching attributed to the 6th century BCE Chinese philosopher Lao Tsu and to the work of Greek philosophers at the same time concentrated in the Ionian city of Miletus and the Greek cities of southern Italy. These Greek philosophers stressed that the law of redistribution of energy and balance was the ruling principle of the world. Heraclitus (circa 504 BCE) of the Ionian city of Ephesus stressed that under the world of apparent flux was a principle of measure and order, based upon harmony created by opposite tensions.

Lao Tzu and the later Taoist thinkers gave the name of Yin and Yang to these opposite tensions and saw yin and yang as the governing principle of the created universe. The balance of Yin and Yang within the individual and within all nature is the source of harmony. Lack of balance between Yin and Yang is the source of disharmony and disorder.

Contemporary movements that stressed the need for world citizenship started on the eve of World War II when the spirit of aggressive nationalism was at its height in the policies of Germany, Italy and Japan. There was a need to develop balance by stressing the unity of humanity and the interdependence of the world. These concepts of world citizenship were articulated by a leading professor of international law, Quincy Wright of the University of Chicago who held that states must shape their domestic laws and foreign policies in such a way as to be compatible with the tenets of international law. Quincy Wright was the leader of a first Association of World Citizens founded in 1939.

Unfortunately, the strength of the nationalistic tide was already too great, and a balance by stressing world unity could not be recreated in time. The Second World War broke out in Europe shortly afterwards. Japanese nationalism had already brought violence to China, but too few people reacted. Japanese nationalism continued in an unbalanced way, leading to the attack on the US base at Pearl Harbor, which by provoking US entry into the war, led to the defeat of Japan.

Another important contributor to the concept of world citizenship was Russell Davenport, the editor of the US business magazine Fortune. Davenport was the chief strategist of the presidential campaign of Wendell Willkie, the Republican candidate in the 1940 election. When Willkie lost the election to Franklin D. Roosevelt, Roosevelt asked Willkie to go on a round-the-world trip, meeting world leaders to demonstrate that the USA was united in its opposition to Nazi and Japanese aggression. On his return, Willkie, with the help of Russell Davenport, wrote of his experience in a best-selling book: One World. The title of the book became a key concept for world citizenship and for some time world citizens were called "One Worlders".

Russell Davenport was a student of the theosophical ideas of Rudolf Steiner who stressed the existence of the higher law behind the flux of events and the need to constantly re-establish balance and harmony.

Again today, we see a growth of a violent and narrow nationalism and of exclusivist religious movements. Thus we need to re-establish harmony by mobilizing the energies of inclusiveness and the sense that we are all essentially citizens of the one world.

This mobilization is becoming a strong tide expressing itself in education for peace, in respect for universal human rights, for overcoming poverty through ecologically sound development and establishing a just economic order within and among states.

A nationalism, which takes pride in the best tradition of a state and its people, is a necessary aspect of world order, but it must not become a narrow nationalism, which preaches hatred of one's neighbour.

Today, we must assiduously seek the way of the Tao, working to develop world citizenship, thus reflecting the higher universal ways of balance and harmony.


1 Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines in Esoteric Astrology by Alice Bailey, Lucis Publishing Co., c1951, p. 556.
René Wadlow is the editor of the on-line journal of world politics www.transnational-perspectives.org and the chief representative of the Association of World Citizens to the United Nations, Geneva.