By Holly Glen Gearhart, Contributing Writer
Thucydides, ( c. 460 – c. 395 BC) a Greek historian and Athenian general wrote “…the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”
Feeling like you are suffering decisions made by the powerful, whose concern is only for themselves? Here is your chance to empower yourself and influence world decisions and our country’s foreign policy.
The East County Senior Center is hosting a Great Decisions Discussions group beginning on Monday, Jan. 27 at 6 p.m. and continuing every Monday evening for the next eight weeks.
The Great Decisions Discussions program is part of the Foreign Policy Association and serves “… as a catalyst for developing awareness, understanding, and informed opinion on U.S. foreign policy and global issues. Through its balanced, nonpartisan programs and publications, the FPA encourages citizens to participate in the foreign policy process,” according to their site, http://www.fpa.org.
Founded in 1918, The Foreign Policy Association was first known as the League of Free Nations Association. One hundred forty-one distinguished Americans formed the LFNA and in 1923 the name changed to the Foreign Policy Association, with U.S. John Foster Dulles and Eleanor Roosevelt among the originators. The FPA remains devoted to the mindful study of all sides of international affairs.
Every year a panel of experts chooses the topics covered, then briefing books and DVDs are compiled so that the Great Decisions groups around the country have identical materials to discuss.
At the conclusion of the eight week program, “… participants are polled about their views on the eight topics discussed. The results are compiled in the National Opinion Ballot Report and distributed to the White House, members of Congress, the departments of State and Defense, the national media and participants in the Great Decisions Discussion Program. The report is a valuable way of sharing the informed opinions of citizens with the people who shape U.S. foreign policy.”
The topics are of considerable importance. Foreign relations determine trade, energy, jobs; in short, the future.
Consider the actions our government takes and think about how those actions affect trade with the rest of the world.
Thomas Jefferson referenced, in 1792, his wish for an informed citizenry but noted that “…they [citizens] cannot approve what they do not understand,” especially when it comes to legislation. Jefferson emphasized the citizen needed to oversee the actions taken by the government.
With that in mind, ask yourself how well do you understand our foreign policy on Turkey or the commitment between the U.S. and Israel. What is the government doing about climate change and food shortages? What is the effect of political Islam post-Arab Spring? How do you feel about U.S. defense policy with a focus on new technology, especially the use of drones? What is the potential impact of U.S. energy independence and how does that inform our foreign policy? Why should we concern ourselves with China’s foreign policy or try to understand the global economy and how that impacts our U.S. trade policy?
It is a lot to think about, overwhelming in fact, but you do have a chance to become informed on these issues and involve yourself in some real discussion with your neighbors.
You will need to reserve a space and buy the official briefing book for $20; materials must be ordered ahead of time. Contact Joan Brown at (206) 399-9994 for reservations and the book, or you may order a briefing book directly from FPA at 1 (800) 477-5836. The ECSC is located at 276 Sky River Parkway, Monroe.