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Cafe Society to discuss how to make voices heard on important issues

By Staff | Jan 8, 2016

The Cafe Society, a part of Shepherd University’s Life Long Learning Program will conduct its next session on Jan. 12. The topic will be: “Alternative ways that concerned citizens have to make their views know and influence our political process, policies and procedures.” This topic is a direct follow on to the engaging discussion held last Tuesday on the effectiveness of the U.S. legal system. These informal weekly discussions are held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. in the Rumsey Room of the Shepherd University Student Center each Tuesday morning. Pre-registration is not required and there are no fees or charges.

Mike Austin, one of the Cafe Society facilitators commented, “At the conclusion of last week’s exchange of views, which was greatly enhanced by active participation of a Shepherdstown volunteer who works closely with the prisoners in the Maryland Correctional Institution in Hagerstown, there was a strong sense of frustration that little was being done to address the issues raised. It was readily agreed that a review of alternative means that citizens have to make their concerns know would be timely, particularly as none of the numerous problems with administering justice in American had emerged thus far in the current political campaigns.”

He continued, “When it comes to making ourselves heard, we have the advantage of working from a position of strength in that our community has a dynamic base of well informed and engaged citizens who participate individually and collectively in a number of mutually supportive organizations and activities. Consequently if after due consideration, we decide to influence some situation that we believe is unjust or simply wrong, our efforts will be seen as credible and very likely receive due consideration. We saw that play out in the recent school levy vote when there was a spontaneous upwelling of support to correct malicious misinformation that had been intentionally disseminated in an effort to defeat the levy extension. Our political decision makers can’t and don’t attempt to operate in a vacuum. However our political system was designed to provide multiple channels of information and viewpoints in the ferment required by our democratic process. Despite the dominant role played by lobbyists and special interest groups, there is ample evidence that cogent, tempered expressions and concerns that reflect understanding of the issues and offer credible approaches and constructive solutions will be heard. We won’t always prevail, but will have the satisfaction of having made an honest effort. So our discussion will focus on how to identify these various channels and how we might make more effective use of them. I hope that more members of the silent majority out there will decide to participate and join us.”

If you have suggestions for future Cafe Society topics or want more information about the program contact Austin at 304-876-0598 or michael.austin@frontiernet.net.