Philosophy coffee explores meanings of citizenship

MRINALINI MITRA

Special to The Denisonian

Each year the philosophy department offers everyone the opportunity to enjoy warm coffee and stimulating conversations during the Big Red Weekend. The Big Red Weekend Philosophy Coffee is one of the several discussions held by the department each semester. Topics differ for all the gatherings and are selected by a student committee responsible for holding these events.

All the inquisitive participants of this year’s Big Red Weekend Philosophy Coffee met at Knobel Hall to talk about citizenship in a globalizing world. Amidst affairs like refugee crises, Brexit, terrorism and the coming up elections in November, citizenship is a contentious topic. It was no surprise that the initial problem faced by the group was, “How should we discuss citizenship?” Should they deliberate citizenship from a legal or a moral point of view? And should these views be different? The Friday afternoon was spent raising and attempting to address several such key questions.

“Citizenship should have a moral connotation. You should be responsible to your society” said Angelika Gritzka, a visiting parent. This idea helped the group probe into the issue of how the elite in our societies think of citizenship. Many furthered the popular belief that the rich are not as giving to their fellow countrymen and community as they afford to be.

It was proposed that the wealthy are truly global citizens. Several countries are now luring rich foreigners by selling their country’s passport for influence in the Maltese government. This concept further complicates the idea of citizenship.

The cure for lack of citizen involvement in national affairs was found in the movie Starship Troopers by a participant. Every citizen portrayed in the film served the military of their respective government. Serving the military made the citizens of different galactic governments more patriotic. This was seen as a way of inspiring people to believe that the state is greater than the individual.

Steven Zaris, a visiting parent, said that the event was “illuminating and confusing,” while Jake Ryan ‘19 said, “Engaging in the quest for finding answers was illuminating.” Though the discussion failed to reach any conclusions, it raised questions and inspired ideas for the further discussion on the topic.

However, it is not the conclusion or the discussions that are the only fascinating things about these events. It is the level of engagement they attract. The attendees were so involved and enthusiastic to put forward their views and engage in respectful debate.

“It is a good intellectual occasion. It attracts a nice collection of students and parents each year,” professor Anthony Lisska remarked.

The Philosophy Coffee offers people the opportunity to engage in similar thought provoking questions several times each semester, be on the lookout for notifications on the upcoming events from the philosophy department.