I have been attending a group, Great Decisions, that reads and discusses foreign policy. Our curriculum is written and provided by the Foreign Policy Administration. It has been an enlightening and interesting group. (If you are interested in sponsoring or finding a group in your area, Click here. Even if you don't join a group the site has wonderful articles and current reference materials.)
This semester contains 8 sessions about current affairs, mostly those things taking place in the Middle East and Asia. We've discussed or will discuss the Middle East alliance, Islamic State, The Kurds, Migration, The Koreas, United Nations, Climate Change and Cuba.
In all these topics that we discuss there are many issues. They all have complexities and nuances that require Solomon's wisdom. But it seems to me that underlying many of the issues is that a group of people- doesn't matter their nationality or race- feel unrecognized and obscure. They are feeling that they do not belong, that no one is listening and that there is no recourse except for violence towards those whom they consider "lesser" than themselves.
I am reminded that most people desire a sense of belonging, a sense of knowing and being known by others and a sense of purpose. For the heavy conflicts in the East, how do you get them to stop long enough to be known? How do you have them treat each other with decency and respect? How can they recognize and listen to one another without feeling that they have compromised themselves?
It is not just " another country's" problem. Our country may not be in a physical civil war with guns and ammo, but we have the same tensions between those who feel unaccepted and unrecognized and those who are not listening. It seems as if these same issues rise up whether one lives in the Middle East, Korea or downtown Baltimore.
What about you? Do you feel disenfranchised by your government, unrecognized by your religion, unknown by your neighbors, unaccepted by your family? Or if you are honest, is there anything in your own behavior that might be causing others to feel that same way?
I love the name of this 97 year-old series- Great Decisions. I keep thinking that it should be called, Great Discussions because the topics do evoke wonderful discourse but great decisions is more appropriate. I think that everyone needs to make some type of decision- will I just let things happen around me or will I, in whatever small way, participate? This class has been a first step in starting to grasp what goes on in the world. The more I learn about others and our "differences", the more I learn at the core of all of our being is just the same; we all want to be known, to have purpose and to have a sense of belonging.
My prayer is that each of the groups we study will find that. To some degree the fighting, the loathing, the bickering will not end until those desires are met. I can only pray that each person might experience it personally, with the thought that our longing of belonging and purpose is our internal pull to be drawn closer to our Creator, whether we want to recognize that or not. I think that is the great decision.