Readers Write: Ignorance of world a threat to this country

Readers Write: Ignorance of world a threat to this country

During a recent MSNBC morning news segment, Presidential hopeful and Libertarian Gary Johnson asked the question “What is Aleppo?” when the topic of the Syrian crisis was discussed. 

Apparently, he was not aware that Aleppo is the Syrian city which has been the epicenter of the Syrian civil war. 

Immediately, there was a sense of shock that an individual who is professing himself to be the next qualified commander-in-chief of the United States of America does not recognize the name of the Syrian city that has been in newspapers on a daily basis, and has been a topic of serious concern all over the world.

The shock and disappointment that followed was certainly justified. 

Although Mr. Johnson is not one of the two major party candidates this election cycle,  it is certainly unsettling, at the very least, that a prospective commander-in-chief would not know such a crucial fact about current world affairs.  

In light of this incident, one could argue that the best and brightest are not among our current presidential candidates.  

This may seem like a fair inference. 

Yet, Mr. Johnson’s question, “What is Aleppo?” is a symptom of a larger societal issue. 

Given the gravity of the crisis in Syria, and the world-wide ramifications it will continue to precipitate, Aleppo should be known not only by the best and brightest, but by the majority of the American citizenry. 

This lack of knowledge by Mr. Johnson is somewhat indicative of the value and importance we place on our citizens’ awareness of foreign affairs.

It is easy to become passive with our own education about foreign affairs, conferring with “experts” regarding international matters. 

Yet, the attitude that domestic matters are more important than learning about what is happening across the globe will not produce an educated citizenry, adequately equipped to make political decisions. 

After all, the world has become a smaller place. 

In this age of ever increasing globalization, the line between domestic and foreign affairs often becomes blurred. 

There are not too many domestic issues that are not somehow either directly or indirectly affected by what is happening somewhere else in the world.  

Securing borders and changing immigration policies will not change the fact that we live in a global, interdependent world.

We do not all need to be foreign affairs experts, nor would that be useful. 

Yet, prioritizing the teaching of global affairs and allocating enough resources to make sure the younger generations understand the importance of this education is necessary for a healthy democracy. 

Justifiably so, we want to advance the studies of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and similar fields. 

Yet, we need scientists and technological experts to understand history and current world affairs so that they can place their work within a greater context.  

Otherwise, history is bound to repeat itself and new, modern challenges may be met without a proper global context.  

Incorporating the effective pedagogy of   global/social sciences into our educational system cannot go to the wayside.

Similarly, our adult citizenry should not collectively agree to close the newspapers and focus only on more personal and domestic affairs.  

The images of scores of displaced families in Syria and elsewhere are not only cries for humanitarian help or sympathy. 

It is a reminder that while we may be American citizens first, we also need to be citizens of the world, able to understand and recognize what is happening around the globe. 

It is with that knowledge that we are better able to put our domestic issues in a broader context and choose leaders that understand the complexity of our interdependent world. 


Diana Poulos-Lutz


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