They Call It “Political” But What Is It Really? GDN Exclusiveby Daron Davis, Contributing Writer November 22, 2021
This is something we hear often, “I’m not political.” What does one mean when they say this? I suggest what they really mean is that they are unsure of what they do know or don’t know about politics, or they are unaware of how impactful politics are on their everyday lives. As a matter of fact, politics is in all of our lives, each and every one of us. One definition you can find for the meaning of “political” is an adjective describing a person that is “interested in or active in politics.”
If this narrow definition is their only understanding of the word, they would be correct. There is another definition for “political.” It is an adjective that states “relating to the government or its public affairs.” This definition is more salient. I suggest we scrutinize this definition for its exact meaning. I believe more understanding will bring clarity to the point of whether or not you are into politics; they are into you.
Let’s assume we have all been to more than one school. To be clear, which schools we go to is determined by your address. Districts are decided by elected officials. Which schools you have access to can have a huge influence on one’s future. Is that political? A parent that wants their schools’ districts changed gets a vote. They can contact an elected official with their concerns. They can even run for office to have a much stronger voice and influence in this clearly very political process.
Does the school have enough funding? Are there enough teachers? How is that decided? If you think it’s an elected official that ran for a seat on the school board, you’d be correct. Every decision made that makes a school what it is ultimately is the epitome of “political.” Whether a student, former student, parent, teacher, administrator, or just a community member, we are all stakeholders. Politics affect us all.
That is just one of the many aspects of politics that affect our lives. There are also your rights, your health, where you live, where you go, what you can afford, and what you do.
I don’t talk politics
Sometimes we hear this, “I don’t talk politics.” Could they really mean that they are not comfortable talking about their values or views? Could it be they are not only turned off by the discomfort that can come from expressing political views, but the bickering that sometimes ensues, or the promises not kept by politicians?
Let’s examine some of these suspicions I have presented. First, what about the bickering? Yes, expressing your views may offend some. Is it right that someone is offended by another’s views about things involving politics that affect us all? No, that is not right, but some hold their views close to heart and they can be very defensive when it comes to pushback. We should strive to have civil discourse, especially with those that don’t agree with you.
Another reason is the promises not kept by those running for office. The feeling that “all politicians lie” so, “why bother?” This reasoning, I suggest, is why some say, “I don’t like to talk about politics.” or say, “they aren’t political.” They are very “political”. I suggest they are keenly aware of the state of politics. They don’t see any value in discourse, and they are averse to the idea of talking about anything that may cause pointless conflict without any advancement of solutions. I think we all get that, and I believe we have all felt this way before, but our engagement is their test and that accountability comes with consequences. We un-elect those that make promises that go unkept.
Discourse should be sought with folks that have different views than our own. It should be kept civil. If you have discourse solely with folks that agree with you, you are basically in an echo chamber. You will only hear what you like. You won’t see your blind spots and your blind spots will grow. Discourse with someone that does not hold your views can give you a different perspective or at least more understanding. The point of the discussion is to learn. I would highly encourage that.
We are all political. We may be unsure of our positions. We may be uncomfortable speaking about our views. We may lack understanding of politics or the implications they have in our own lives and everyone’s life. We are all political and politics are an enormous part of our lives. So, let’s embrace this power. Let’s not be afraid of engagement or discourse. Let’s use our power to influence our world to make it a better place for everyone.
Daron Davis is a Fayetteville State University alumnus, writer, and community organizer.
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