Sunday, September 12, 2021

Let's Get Political

 More and more I hear the well intentioned phrase "I don't want to be political", "I'm not trying to be political", "let's not be political, no politics here, this is a politics free zone" and so forth. Why?

That's a rhetorical question obviously. I know why, it's because political discourse can be filled with anger and venom and most people don't enjoy the upset stomach that comes with that kind of bitterness served up for dinner.

Politics, however, are the real world application of our beliefs and values. Perhaps we value clean air and water and maybe we value pissing-off (aka "owning") those people who don't look like us. Whatever it is we really value comes out pretty clear in our politics and that's fine. When I hear someone say "I'm not political" I hear "I have no values, no beliefs and don't care about anything". 

Perhaps we fear knowing more than we'd like about our fellow travelers on this planet. Maybe we'd rather not know that our cousin supports white supremacist ideas, is a bigot and an idiot to boot. Can we know these things, or more accurately perhaps, believe these things and still be in relationship with someone?

The current experience of Covid-19 is a good challenge for us to navigate. You can make the simplified but rather accurate classification of those who are working to slow the spread of the virus and those who are working to increase its reach and its deadly consequences. Those who promote vaccination, wearing masks and altering social interactions at present are working to save lives by limiting the pandemic and those who oppose such measures are, quite simply, working to make things worse in terms of the death toll and the long term health of us all. 

Taking a stand against science, public health and saving lives is a political position because the Republican Party, one half of our viable political landscape, has taken the position against slowing the pandemic. One might argue that health concerns, or science is not political and they would be correct. Science, knowledge, objective reality are apolitical by nature but they become political when a political party refuses to accept objective reality as we know it.

I saw a recent announcement of a bluegrass music festival postponing due to the pandemic. "It's not political" they stated, but in truth it is. While I fully understand the desire to limit the fall out with some fans of the genre, there's no getting around the political nature and that's fine. What I read between the lines in their statement is "We're concerned about public health and public safety and feel it would be wrong to move forward with an event that we cannot have safely". That statement is political but only because one party is loudly proclaiming that they don't care about public health and safety. 

In this case, the intentions of the organizers are clearly on the side of concern for the audience and general well being. That will be considered political by some who choose to make it so. That may be uncomfortable but it is a loud and clear statement of everyone's beliefs and values.

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