Politics and Being Hushed

Many people squirm at the sign of a politically based conversation arising. I’ve been hushed, I’ve been tapped and and kicked under tables by former boyfriends. I personally find them to be the most interesting because I think they’re the most slippery topics and usually the most honest or hurdle inducing. They’re full of contradiction and I like to drill in on disagreement. I think my typical goal is to find some agreement on the “well shit, it can’t be both ways,” however experience tells me I’m usually trying to bull people over and feel proud of myself. 

This political season was one for the books and it was a great place to be if we were on the same side, same team. This election cycle I was very closely surrounded by others who actually were not, to my dismay and drunken rants, not on my side. I do agree that it’s such a closely held topic not suitable for anywhere nice or somewhere you should stay quiet and polite- but I really do wish politics was a topic more people felt tempted to put on the table expecting that it could get tense. 

Yuval Noah HararI (yes, I’m referencing his book again) provides a clear and overarching explanation of politics I had never considered and felt should be shared even if you’re not likely to pick up his book or get past the chapters involving physical and cultural anthropology. I’m not claiming to know the depth of most political issues by any means, but I won’t shy away from the opinion that I doubt most anyone besides career policy writers and educators have much scope on most issues either. 

I hated watching nothing be spoken about during townhall meetings, and worse to watch the presidential debates involve no true answers being provided regarding any political issue. Something I also find disappointing is the strategy of party identifiers to stick to the softball issues or rather easy to understand and party polarizing issues of guns and abortion. Even these topics in a true discussion have gray area that no one stance can throughly resolve, yet people react with knee jerk yes/no votes and I think that it’s embarassing. I’m guilty of this myself on the topic of immigration where I was staunchly anti-wall which then led someone to point out that maybe if I tried offering some other solution I might see that something needs to be done. I was pissed. Never would this be okay. Hi, here’s a big middle finger to our southern neighbors. No. I felt it was ignorant and ludicrous. What it hadn’t considered (follow me here, I’m not saying I’m for a wall) is that the issue involves the exploitation of cheap labor and our country is very divisive even on this issue. We need the cheap labor right? To keep food cheap. Migrant workers like living here over most places they’re coming from, right? America’s pretty great if you’re making money, right? I realized my views were flimsy and what I wasn’t addressing was thed issue that there are many thousands of people coming to America and they arent being provided a quick or ideal method to be accounted for, taxed and protected as citizens. Is that okay? Do we like it that way, deep down on an agriculture level? On a labor force level? On a health care or public school or social services level? Like holy shit, the onion keeps peeling. And that’s what I love about it all. Everything is so attached and if you say yes to this one thing but disagree with the resulting consquence or continued effect that it creates further down the line, then what? Are you a bad person if you support babies being aborted at the free choice of the mother and or/father whose life it actually affects? Are your irrational religious beliefs needing to tread on my own unreasonable but steadfast views? So clearly and understandably it can get heated especially if you scratch deeper than the surface or begin to point out false information or contradictions. Harari obviously explains this in a more concise which is why I’ll park the bus and share what he says.

“Unlike the laws of physics, which are free of inconsistencies, every man-made order is packed with internal contradicitions. Cultures are constantly trying to reconcile these contradicitions, and this process fuels change. […] Another example is the modern political order. Ever since the French Revolution, people throughout the world have gradually come to see both equality and individual freedom as fundamental values. Yet the two values contradict each other. Equality can be ensured only by curtailing the freedoms of those who are better off. Guaranteeing that every individual will be free to do as he wishes inevitably short-changes equality. The entire political history of the world since 1789 can be seen as a series of attempts to reconcile this contradiction.”

Altogether, what I’m trying to get at is that it should be enjoyable or at least a regular exercise to pull issues apart. I feel like we write papers in school in order to convince our classmates we are right with the intention of teaching balanced persuasion. This made sense to me until I was given the opposite side to represent on the issue of women in the miltary. Never would’ve looked into this issue. My thought process was “Yeah, that’s what equality means right? That’s our goal right? Separate but equal or don’t ask don’t tell, those strategies in other social settingsecurity were fugged up. Let’s not separate based on gender.” So I take the other side, I want Takeo win so I start bending my findingson to say somethingoodbye they dont. I convince my class enough to believe me that women in the military don’t want to be equal anyway. So who are we to tell them what to do. I knew it was bogus, but at the end of my debate I won by a landslide. It felt gross. 

So what are we doing here as a people and as a nation if we aren’t willing to discuss what affects our lives everyday? I would hope pondering something other than what’s for lunch- but we all gotta eat. 

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