Be Smart, Talk Politics
« No politics here. »
Appalling words spoken in houses, universities, offices, schools, in many a place and for many an occasion. Words that, in some cases, have contributed to where we are now: oblivious and distressed.
« No politics here. »
Our lives are made of politics! Everything around us is politics.
No more bread? That’s politics. You can only buy local potatoes? That’s politics. A man with no insurance died at the doors of a hospital? Politics. Your child is traveling away to work in another country, on another continent? Politics. Bags of waste are covering the streets with their obnoxious smell? Politics. Gas stations are closed? Surprise, surprise… That’s politics.
By retrieving politics from the casual discussion, we forbid an understanding of the mechanisms that govern our day to day life. And when that happens, we plunge in the dark. We trade an enlightened indignation with forced acceptance, because we fear the unknown, we avoid what we don’t understand and we prefer the comfort of our habits and limitations. At least we know what they are, right? But we end up complying to the laws of what’s on the stage of everyday life, because we don’t know what happens in the darkened rooms behind the scenes. And so, we relinquish our ability to make change.
Politics are not about blind allegiances.
To all who limit politics to parties, the reality is much larger. At the end of the day, it’s the “science of the government” or the “affairs of the city.” It’s about the policies that translate the management of a city. About decisions taken in the name of the people, in your name. It’s the upper management running the different departments in the life of a country: education, health, social services, culture, sports, municipalities, public transportation, communication, etc. And the upper management is as accountable as any other employee in that company.
“No politics here.”
BEYOND THE ECHOES
By entrapping politics in the skin of the taboo, because of division in opinions, we obliterate dialogue, forbid argumentation and ban free thought. When there’s no room for exchange, knowledge cannot enter. And in the absence of external intellectual stimuli, in our little bubble of the known, we fall in the trap of our biases. We can orbit away towards the large outer space of indifference. We can also become vulnerable to manipulative practices and unfounded extremism.
Politics should be discussed. Everywhere. Anywhere. Without boundaries.
In the silence, we find ourselves, at best, caught in the net of ignorance. But there’s more to it. In the stillness of our own thoughts, we are easily primed by our environment. And more often than not, we are trapped in the echoes of similar opinions in a close circle of familiar faces, where argument is not needed, where only the emotional connection with people matters. Because we know these faces, more likely our parents, we trust their judgement. They have their reasons, anchored in a specific context in space and time. But their reasons are their own.
In a room full of similar echoes, we become an echo ourselves.
What we need is divergence, an opposing opinion, a friction to spark thought, an opportunity to reason with arguments and facts, a space to discover reality from a variety of perspectives.
We need whole system thinking rather than close-minded inductive reasoning.
“No politics here.”
THE ART OF OPPOSITION
Why are people so afraid of confrontation? Why do we carry within us that compulsive need to reach agreement on everything?
Opposing opinions are enriching. They help you question what you know and confront your own limitations. Sometimes, they come with information; you can test the truth in them and accept them or discard them in light of facts. A stream of thoughts issues in the presence of friction: you build rational arguments instead of emotionally complying to the norm of the habitual.
Opening up to otherness, in both thought and identity, is a marvelous experience. Without it, there is no hope for progress.
No hope for intelligence either.
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
Be smart. Talk politics.