August 2017. Originally copyrighted and posted in "Type for Life" by the Center for the Applications of Psychological Type, Gainesville, FL. Used with permission.

Is looking at nationality and citizenship (synonyms in the dictionary, by the way) the same as looking at a personality typological system like the Myers-Briggs® theory?

When I used to teach the MBTI® Certification course, we'd always search for real life examples of typologies (versus traits). A typology is a category, like ESTJ (my type) or INFP. Traits are distinguished by measuring how much you have of a particular characteristic, such as dominance.

And then there's nationality and citizenship — a typology. Are you an American or a Brit? Even though we all speak English, there are differences! Perhaps some might argue that they are more American than another American. Both people would be in the same category and the "more" or "less" label is irrelevant. (And yes, I know there are dual citizens, but bear with me, please)

In the present political climate, the issue of citizenship has come to the forefront. Many of us, including me, take citizenship for granted. We are born into it. My Father was not — he was a German immigrant in 1923, but he was awarded citizenship as a minor when his parents received their citizenship papers.

I volunteer in an ESL (English as a Second Language) class and occasionally the topic of citizenship comes up, although that is not our focus. We often have discussions like this to encourage the use of language.

Once we were talking about why people volunteer and one student piped up, "because it makes you look good for the citizenship process."

Another time we were discussing famous women in the world, including Susan B. Anthony. Those who had recently taken the U.S. citizenship exam knew that she was an early leader in the struggle to gain equality for women, including the right to vote.

Recently some European friends of mine looked at their citizenship status and decided to make some changes. Both were British and both really liked and were proud of being part of Europe. With the European Union, they could easily go between different countries and work anywhere in Europe. They felt comfortable being Europeans!

That feeling came crashing down the day after the Brexit vote, when Great Britain voted to leave the European Union (EU). Suddenly that comfort was gone.

Patricia held British and Canadian citizenship papers, but she wanted to be part of the European Union. She found a way to gain Irish citizenship which keeps her in the EU.

Ki is a British citizen married to Guenther, a German citizen and they have been together nearly 30 years. In fact, one of their first dates was in Berlin the day the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989.

Ki decided to apply for German citizenship; she wanted to remain a European. She had lived in Germany for at least eight years, she knew the German language, and she knew the German legal system and society. This past Spring, she was awarded it.

Here is what Guenther wrote about this momentous occasion and I include this with their permission:

Greetings from a truly European couple:

Against the dark background of both our parents' countries' history I feel especially thankful that Ki, myself and our children have been privileged to enjoy more than SIXTY years of relative prosperity and peace in Central Europe.

And happy that our continuing love for each other has proven that there is a different way to hatred, division, war and bloodshed that our parents had to go through!!

Let us not take any of that for granted,
Let us fight to preserve what has been achieved,
Let us work for improvements where changes are needed.
Without destroying and betraying the ideals!

Perhaps the typology of citizenship is not what is important here. What is important is the peace that is achieved when differences are overcome. As I.F. Stone wrote, we look for "… the hope of someday bringing about one world, in which men [and women] will enjoy the differences of the human garden instead of killing each other over them."

The typology of personality type may help us understand what is in that garden and the importance of those differences.