The world entered the 21st century only a couple of decades ago with the goal of global integration, equal opportunities, and multicultural integrity.
We left behind the old conservative values, the gender and race inequality, and the cultural divisions in the past century defined by the mistakes of our grandparents.
A new generation rose and declared with certainty that the new millennium will see the creation of a better world for everybody defined by one word: globalisation.
And here we are now: almost 20 years into the new millenium. Does the world we live in today reflect what we considered to be 21st century values?
Or are we, in essence, setting ourselves up for failure with a word as flashy and big as ‘globalisation’?
I was born in Bulgaria with a strong sense of belonging somewhere else.
I moved to London only to realise that, in my nature, I am not and never will be tied to one place: I am a child of the earth, I belong to the 21st century, to a global, integrated and—not existent world.
In my pursuit to feel a sense of belonging, I moved to China and Hong Kong; I am ignited by the strong passion to travel the world and learn for myself the definition of ‘home’.
In my small home-town in Bulgaria, I imagined the world was exactly that: globalised. I can move anywhere and feel at home, I thought.
When I moved out and started exploring the world first-hand, I realised that this is merely an idealised image of the world. This is how we can dream of the world to be; but in fact, the 21st century of globalisation has proven itself to be the exact opposite.
A free movement of goods, people, religions, ethnicities, beliefs, and philosophies – is that not what a 21st century world is supposed to be?
In reality, there is one big obstacle between this perfect world and the one we live in now: sovereignty. Sovereign states governed by 20th century political values are simply threatened by such ideas.
People hold onto national, ethnic, and religious identities like their life depended on it, like we still live in a world of the past.
We are presenting ourselves to be a very progressive and diverse world, but in fact, as long as we hold onto fear of the others and ‘their’ identity and values taking over ‘ours’, there never will be a global world.
Until the separation between ‘them’ and ‘us’ still exists, no integration is possible.
Anti-globalisation has become a trend in the 21st century. Walling ourselves up, defending ourselves against the ‘others’, ‘us’ against ‘them’: a strength in numbers.
Trump building a wall is much equivalent to the UK leaving the EU. It might not be a physical wall, but it’s a reinforcement of borders, a desperate attempt to grasp the remnants of sovereignty and a call to the rest of the world that free movement of anything is unacceptable.
It’s closing off of one state and its people from the rest of the world, it’s a reaction against globalisation.
While the western world is having a last-century crisis in the modern world, China is picking itself up from the dust and inconspicuously taking its place as the next world power.
Hong Kong: a centre of the world, the perfect blend between east and west, tradition and modernity—in theory.
Globalisation is a phantom actor here as much as it is in the rest of the world. It’s not a blend of ‘us’ and ‘them’; it’s Asia against the world.
As a child of the 21st century, I went out into the world and realised that in many ways, we are still living a century behind.
I don’t want to identify myself as ‘us’ or ‘them’, and I refuse to be categorised. I want to build a world that lives up to the expectations of it.
As a transitional generation between millenniums, I can already feel we are going to experience the weight of a world, a product of failed expectations the most, but it’s also up to us to turn the trend of anti-globalisation around.
We have the power to mould the world in any way we want: it all starts with a shift in mentality. It’s up to us to build a world of the future.
It’s time we did.