Being Political is a Duty

Like with recycling, people think being political doesn’t makes a difference. So nobody does it, and the world becomes garbage.

There is no meaningful caring about the world that doesn’t involve politics. I’m sorry, there just isn’t.  Yes, politics is unpleasant, it’s frustrating, it’s grueling, it takes immense time and energy –  and no, no you can’t get a free pass and not do it. Who said being good was pleasant or easy?  Yes it would be great if we lived in a world where we didn’t all have to be political, but we don’t get to choose what reality we live in. Most people in the world would happily trade places with someone who had the luxury of thinking that “maybe politics isn’t for me.”

Reading the news is like washing your hands

When I say you should be political, I don’t mean following red vs. blue. I mean that you should be reading the news (global through local), and that you should stand up for what is right. In the total space of global politics (governments, militaries, economies, climates etc.) the donkey vs elephant duel is no more than an act in a circus show. The only reason it matters is because it passes for politics in the most powerful country in the world. And thus, what the clowns say actually ends up defining the planet’s trajectory.

It’s not that you aren’t interested in politics because American politics is a joke. It’s that American politics is a joke because you aren’t interested in politics.

If all Americans started reading the news, then our political system would fix itself. The problem isn’t corruption. The ignorance of the American people is what has allowed our government to corrupt. The problem isn’t evil either. Most Nazi, KKK, and ISIS members think they are doing good. It is their ignorance that makes them misguided. 

Ultimately, good intentions do not have much to do with good beliefs or good actions.

The problem is disinterest and apathy. If you aren’t stopping the spread of bad beliefs, you are aiding their dissemination. When bad beliefs go unchallenged, they are validated. This is how bullying worked in middle school – this is how politics works in adulthood. The best protection against bad beliefs is knowledge. Your good intentions are irrelevant.

If you aren’t informed, you can’t know right from wrong.

If you think doing good is giving gays conversion therapy, think again. If you doing good is donating to the Red Cross to help Haiti earthquake victims, think again. If you think doing good is preaching abstinence for teens, think again. If you think doing good is fighting all GMO’s, think again.

If you think you can do good without being steeped in politics, think again, odds are you are doing more harm than good.

It is extremely difficult to do real good. The world is just too complex. You need to know how the world functions to know how your actions will affect it. Limiting your political knowledge to just the industry that you work in isn’t enough – everything is interconnected. Problems do not exist on their own. All problems have their roots in other problems, and one of the most fundamental problems is widespread ignorance.

To be a real citizen of the world, you have to learn about everything. This is a lifelong process; it never ends. But don’t let that discourage you. The worst thing you could do is not start. It is never too late to immerse yourself in the world and treat everyone else’s problems as though they are your own (which they are).

Just read the news every day. Reading the news is like washing your hands. It’s basic hygiene that helps prevent the spread of diseases. 

I don’t believe that for people to do their political duty they need to change jobs or start protesting in the streets. All you need to do is read the news every day (5-10 minutes is enough) and then participate in discourse. Participating doesn’t even require arguing with people. You could just like and share articles on Facebook. That is enough.

The way to change the world is to change people’s minds. American politics isn’t broken due to corruption or evil; it is broken because of ignorance and apathy. So please, for your sake and for mine – please start reading the news. Start caring about politics. Start caring about what happens to everyone else in the world. Caring isn’t a feeling or belief; it is an action. So act. Make politics a habit in your daily life.

4 thoughts on “Being Political is a Duty

  1. Hey yoshi, I got an email that you wrote this article, and then I read it 🙂

    It is a good call to action for me, as I’ve been starting to think more about transitivity of information, and how small actions create larger trends eg how my daily conversations and online presence is important, and how I probably shouldn’t just say “I’m uninformed” with regards to politics.

    I really like the basic hygiene quote.

    I wish you would take part of the article, or write a 2nd article, explaining why you could “just like and share articles on Facebook” and that makes any difference.

  2. Yay! – I will definitely think about writing a part II. The short answer to why liking and sharing articles on Facebook is enough is basically:

    Consider that when it comes to most issues in American politics, we are at a stalemate, and change takes decades. In the past few years, there have been 2 issues that have seen a radical transformation in American politics: gay rights and marijuana. Consider that while both of these two issues have large campaigns behind them that have taken decades to gain a footing, that virtually every other issue that is in a stalemate also has these properties. The real reason that change is happening for gay rights and marijuana and not in other issues is that a large swath of the population has changed its mind about these issues. If you look at charts of public opinion over the past decade, you see a dramatic shift in opinion on both issues.

    So why is that? Well first, there have been a lot of TV shows and media over the previous two decades that have been about these issues and have socialized them with the American people. But that doesn’t explain why we see this sudden drastic spike in change of opinion. The reason we have had this spike, in my opinion, is because over the last 5 or so years, there have been tons and tons of conversations about them. People are constantly posting and liking articles about gay rights and marijuana. I think it is the fact that people have been talking about these two issues, and so much, which is why people’s opinions are changing on them and not on other issues. Gay rights and marijuana are two political issues that even non-political people have gotten behind and in favor of them, and I think this is what makes them different from the rest.

    This is part of why I think just liking and sharing stuff on Facebook is enough. The political system reflects the will of the people. When suddenly you have the entire mainstream, non political America talking about and caring about two issues, you get rapid changes like this.

  3. Makes sense to me. The way you wrote this also made me think “when you talk about something it can’t help but get better / gravitate to the truth”

    If we ‘zoom out’, we might be able to analyze change just in terms of what is getting attention. If certain topics get attention, then people will be thinking about them, and our brains will process the information and change our minds about it. I’m not sure about how I’m phrasing this, but I’m imagining a “guns germs and steel” interpretation of history, but instead of being about technology or geography, it’s just analyzing what got attention in the media and using that as the model of the cause of all things.

  4. Yessss!!! (We just can’t forget in the short term that what gets attention is frequently incredibly wrong)

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