I often hear people say the reason they don't vote is because: "I don't like to get involved with politics," or, "politicians are corrupt."
Politics isn't something we can choose to do or not. Nor is it the root of all evil. To the contrary, politics is an inherent part of our existence. Human life is political. Our bodies are political. A good example of this is the pro-choice and pro-life debate. When is it right or wrong for a woman to have an abortion, if at all? Who decides? Another example is China's one-child policy, which stipulates when families can have one or two kids, in order to prevent overpopulation.
As you can see, long before exiting our mothers' wombs, we were all political objects as ova (egg cells), sperm cells, zygotes, embryos, and fetuses.
Aristotle said it best—"man is by nature a political animal." Yes, human beings are political animals. We are political animals, because we need each other to live the best life possible.
In fact, that's why humans instinctively and consciously form communities. A community is a group of individuals who inhabit a geographical area and, to varying degrees, consent to interact and cooperate with each other. Communities come in different forms and sizes. Villages, cities and nations are communities. Some might ask: "hey, is living with my family political?" I say, absolutely! A family is a small community with a collection of related individuals whose interactions affect each other's well-being.
Here's what we need to remember: politics involves the totality of ethical and social interactions among people. And just as I mentioned in my previous post: "Politics is the result of people interacting with one another on matters that affect their individual and collective well-being. Politics arises when our individual interests clash, and when we disagree on what's good or bad for our communities." Therefore, any human act that directly or indirectly affects the well-being of another person is political.
Presently, we use the word "politics" in a specific way. It is reserved for those interactions that are directly involved with establishing and enforcing formal laws and codes of conduct. Laws are a community's codified "dos and don'ts." And they are enforced by the community in one way or another. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, for example, is a law that American citizens subscribed to (or are supposed to). It reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." How many "dos and don'ts" did you see?
Laws, of course, can be bad or good. (What makes a law bad or good is another discussion.) Some people voluntarily subscribe to laws they think are good. But, you and I know that some people are forced to obey bad laws. The point here is that laws, whether good or bad, regulate human actions.
All the laws affecting the quality of our lives are born from people's needs, wants and desires. That means laws exist, because politics exist. Politics exists, because people are political animals.
Unless you're a supernatural being or some other kind of animal, there is no escape from politics. So, we must face two important questions. Are we going to be responsible for our own political choices and consequences? Are we going to be aware of political choices that other people make?
You can certainly choose to ignore the political consequences of your own and other people’s actions and inaction. You can choose not to speak out or stand up for your own well-being, including your family's and your community's. It’s your choice not to vote and participate in the negotiations of power. In every case, however, you are still doing politics.
You might ask: "Is it really a big deal if I choose not to pay attention to politics and not get involved?"
Yes, it is a big deal!
To be involved with politics, especially in America, is to negotiate with other people about what should and should not be a law regulating how you live. When you do politics you help determine who should be invested with political authority. When you pay attention to politics you will know who should be held accountable for negligence that threatens a community's health and safety—such as the lead-contaminated tap water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
As a political animal, you have a right and responsibility to help build the best political society for yourself, your family and community. Embrace your political nature. Don't be afraid to be political. If you are afraid, that’s too bad because politics is in your blood.
You got politics, I got politics, everybody got politics. How do you choose to use your politics?
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