The look and sound of the word somehow seems contemporary and very smart. Of course cosmopolitan is a quite ancient term. We can trace its origin to the Ancient Greek word “κοσμοπολίτης” (kosmopolitês). Kosmos or cosmos refers to the world and universe while politês is a person or citizen of a locale. Connected as one word, kosmopolitês or cosmopolitan is defined as citizen of the world.
When I fact checked the word by looking it up in my college dictionary, I found this entry:
“1. Pertinent or common to the whole world: an issue of cosmopolitan import.
2. Having constituent elements from all over the world or from many different parts of the world: the ancient and cosmopolitan societies of Syria and Egypt.
3. So sophisticated as to be at home in all parts of the world or conversant with many spheres of interest: a cosmopolitan traveler.
4. Ecology Growing or occurring in many parts of the world; widely distributed.
1. A cosmopolitan person or organism; a cosmopolite.”
To be cosmopolitan is to embrace positive, all-inclusive attitudes, ethics, planning, and the practice of equanimity. It is a beautiful way of thinking and living to which wise people aspire. It is also an imperative for our modern world.
In times of trouble, humans traditionally or instinctively “circle the wagons” and become xenophobic or fearful of strangers. We require a more inclusive mindset in order to survive and thrive in our contemporary, hyper-connected world. As we encounter and try to cope with the raft of difficult problems, we need everyone on board as we search for and implement wise solutions. This is a rational, logical, intelligent attitude. Seen in that light, cosmopolitan people have a leg up when it comes to problem solving.
Just as the word, cosmopolitan, has ancient roots, so do the desires to solve the big problems of war, poverty, and ill-health. Philosophers, spiritually minded people, and wise leaders have been cosmopolitan thinkers and doers.
Cosmopolitan people are found in every nation around the world. They do not think provincially, but embrace a universal benevolence that is extended to people of all ancestries, ethnicities, creeds, genders, ages, and so forth.
Cosmopolitan living is not an ideology; it is an attitude that is cultivated by deep, honest thought and contemplation. When a person finds the courage to jettison conventional thought and ideology, the mind opens up to new, positive possibilities.
More and more people are cultivating cosmopolitan attitudes, even if they do not use that term. An encouraging sign of the times is that more people are mindful of the wide variety of life and the importance of respecting all aspects of it. They are letting go of narrow-minded beliefs and indoctrinated attitudes. They understand the shortcomings of anger, misinformation, greed, and self-centeredness.
It is in the culture of cosmopolitanism that the current social practice of mindfulness has taken root. This mindfulness has led to deep empathy. There is the realization that all creatures are subject to suffering and that all beings deserve to have that suffering diminished. In turn, this leads to humane treatment of all living things and human beings.
When intolerance and fanaticism subside, cosmopolitan thinking grows. This shows the positive, life-affirming seed we have in our hearts.
When we carefully analyze cosmopolitan attitudes, we find thoroughly modern wisdom that has the most ancient roots.