Before a world of passports and border controls, there was a genuine world of global citizenship. Where history was written and carved from rocks, nations formed, lands claimed and lost in what in my view was true tourism unlike what we see today as manufactured experiences for the masses; There is very little in the way of discovering new things.
The making of the modern man was predicated on a world of open borders and actual free trade.
Whether by Tapa cloth, woven sailcloth, Cotton sails and hemp rope the halcyon days of global exploration and first encounters of mankind are distant memories.
You often hear stories of the final frontier on various social platforms of first engagements in countries like Papua New Guinea and in the Amazon Brazil. Rarely if ever is this true, it's more than likely the first outside face they have seen this week. In a modern, an uber-connected world even the most remote of villages can give you the score of the latest game or commodity price of Coffee or other tradable's on the New York Stock exchange
What got me thinking was watching one of my favorite youtube shows Sailing La Vagabond
with Riley Whitlam and his partner Elena on the latest leg of there global exploration of ocean highways on there trusty Catamaran La Vagabond.
As they prepared to cross the Atlantic, Riley made the cheeky comment as they sailed of there last European port without clearing customs "we will tell them in our next port we are global citizens."
It's a simple an innocuous comment but when explored shows how much the world has changed in the last 100 years.
The below info pulled from Wikipedia shows how fast the world has changed the meaning of global citizenship. For many of us, this is within our grandparent and great-grandparents lifetime.In the latter part of the nineteenth century and up to World War I, passports were not required, on the whole, for travel within Europe, and crossing a border was a relatively straightforward procedure. Consequently, comparatively few people held passports.
During World War I, European governments introduced border passport requirements for security reasons, and to control the emigration of people with useful skills. These controls remained in place after the war, becoming a standard, though controversial, procedure. British tourists of the 1920s complained, especially about attached photographs and physical descriptions, which they considered led to a "nasty dehumanization".
In 1920, the League of Nations held a conference on passports, the Paris Conference on Passports & Customs Formalities and Through Tickets. Passport guidelines and a general booklet design resulted from the conference.
Think about this for a minute. For most of humanity the idea of a Government document required to travel was laughable and intrusive, yet today we take it on the chin as a given that it is necessary, just to set off from your shorelines.
If travel documents had existed in earlier times would the great adventures and stories of history exist? The rush of migrants to the USA, most undocumented migrants from Europe, the rush for land and Gold by convicts and farmers from Europe in Australia and New Zealand would never have happened.
The settlement of Polynesia by the great Polynesian wayfarer navigators and their exploration of the globe, would that have happened? With World War One came a culture of fear and mistrust that has gripped the world tighter and tighter since.
The spread and connectivity of humanity are what made us thrive. The drive for adventure, to see and explore required a ship or waka and some crew who were as hearty as you and the world was yours.
So many people around the world are restricted from traveling and exploring. Gone are the days of walking down to the local shipyard with your duffel bag, finding a berth on ocean trader and sailing the world.
A question I have that has steemed from writing and discussing this blog is, are we more mobile? Or are we more isolated and less mobile masked by the connection of technology? Border controls isolate many and restrict access for millions.
In a world where we are lead to be satisfied by virtual connection, despite the fact that our physical isolation provides an ominous disconnection between reality and perception, we fail to ask has technology truly freed us.
Are we living on the precipice of the next dark age? This dark age defined by control of borders, trade and restricted communication.
What will the Native man pursue when he is taught every explorable path has footprints, when every ocean highway and mountain pass has been explored.
So, regardless of whether you're an Icelandic surfer, a Hong Kong sky dweller, a Pacific Island fisherman, a New York Native or a Kiwi at the bottom of the world, dare to cross borders, ask questions and never accept the status quo. What we are told is normal and has always been may not be what it appears.
To be genuinely connected, all nations should be able to explore equally not restricted. Bring back the days of provisioning and seeing the horizon, and stars from your vessel as the only prerequisite to exploring the world.
Maybe, then we will see the world as its meant to be, ever-changing and diverse filled with color and culture.
So, to Riley and Elena, sail on my friends as global citizens, riding the ocean currents of the worlds. Always inspired.