Rotary has had an interest in increasing global understanding, and Pat’s Cookeville club started a World Affairs Council. They wanted to increase American’s understanding of the rest of the world.
The council was started in 2007 after we’d been in Iraq/Afghanistan for four years. Polls indicated Americans didn’t know much about the world, including that most Americans could not pick out Iraq on a world map. The world is more complicated today. NATO is now at the brink of war with the Russia. It’s not just Russia, but China, who has moved to a more aggressive stance toward the United States through the threats against Taiwan. We have a hard time taking with their diplomats. Continuing issues in the Middle East with Iran enriching uranium. Threats across the world are strong. North Korea is testing ICBMs. Those missiles can reach the US and they probably have a hydrogen bomb.
The nuclear genie is out of the bottle. Far more countries have them Israel, Pakistan, and others have them. Computers also are seen as a threat. AI could pose an existential threat to humankind. Calamity is possible. Regulation can be drafted but China would not join into that regulation. Supply chain issues during Covid showed the world how quickly our societies can break down. Russia is stopping grain shipments out of Ukraine. That grain feeds the world.
We are having today our 18th consecutive hottest day on the planet in history. On the current pace, Middle Eastern countries will be uninhabitable by 2040. (That’s only 17 years.) Migrants from Central America often are running from climate change as well.
What is most important to focus on right now? Some of these are existential threats. Americans need to understand these issues. TWAC is an educational program, a 501(c)3). They are a non-political organization based at Belmont University in Nashville. They were named the 2022 Council of the Year. They are a member of WACAA, the World Affairs Councils of America Association.
Their mission and the mission of Rotary are similar. They want the community to think critically about the world and the impact of global events. Hence: education. They have many distinguished speakers and conduct webinars, including David Patreus. They also host cultural events. A recent webinar was on Saudi Arabia. TNWAC.org carries those webinars. A speaker from the Doomsday Clock will be giving one soon. They do an academic quiz bowl. They give a global scholarship. (Check out the web site; it’s very strong.) You can take a What in the World quiz there every week. The high school contest is great. Winners compete nationally at a contest in Washington, D.C.
Rotary clubs can get involved by getting teachers to run a WorldQuest game. You can serve as a coach or mentor for those games, and our club could choose to recognize those schools who participate. We need more people to understand international affairs. We need youth who can lead in international affairs.