Everything Is Politics
I get it. More often than not, the news is depressing. The thought of keeping up with horse-race politics and listening to endless stuffed shirts talk a lot without saying anything is also far from exciting. Well, I have good news and bad news. I’ll give you the bad news first: like it or not, you are already involved with politics. The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to listen to any of those speeches if you don’t want to, and you can still change things for the better.
Here’s the thing: politics is really just human interaction. Did you help your neighbor today? That was a political action, in fact, it’s an example of what we call “good praxis.” Did you support a local business instead of Amazon? That was also a political action. These may be small examples, but if you consider what you’re really doing when you partake in these kinds of actions, then extend that to society and the world at large, you may begin to see why we say that “everything is politics.” If you further consider exactly why you’re taking these actions, and the conditions that led to their necessity, you may see why it pays to get more involved with politics in general.
If that isn’t enough motivation for you, let’s consider the implications of ignoring politics, briefly. Make no mistake, doing nothing is a political action as well. I have previously elaborated on the problem with trying to remain “neutral,” as have others before me (who also did it better). I would also point to the famous words of Martin Niemöller, though it almost seems like I shouldn’t have to. You know the ones, the last bit is “Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Note that when I say “get more involved,” I’m not necessarily talking about elections. Electoral politics may have their place, but direct action is at least as important, if not more so. As George Lakey wrote in a 2019 article for the Waging Nonviolence website:
“Direct action campaigns provide the power that can drive successful movements to grow and win bigger goals than each individual campaign focuses on.”
We’re getting into some bigger picture, and more ambitious, stuff here, but the basis of all of this is community. You can’t really build a movement without it.
Now we’ll get to that bit about the news. I’m using that term in a broad sense here, but I think my meaning will become clear, if it isn’t already. A sentiment that I often hear expressed is that people don’t know which information to trust, and/or that all news sources are equally untrustworthy. I assure you that the second part is definitely not true. As for the first part, a good place to start is Carl Sagan’s “Baloney Detection Kit.” Media literacy is important because, much like politics, you can’t just avoid information. You’re going to pick it up from somewhere.
As we did above, let’s consider the implications of ignoring the news, or attempting to. This is where it all ties back together, because this seems to leave you in one of two equally unpalatable positions. Either you take part in politics without being informed, and leave yourself open to easy manipulation; or, you ignore it all, and leave everything in the hands of others, likely the ruling class. Our current situation is beginning to show what happens when these positions are the norm.
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