?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Contemplating "Politics"

I rarely post about politics. I enjoy talking about other topics that many people find stressful, private, and/or volatile, especially religion and sex -- but I shy away from political conversations, especially in this forum.

This afternoon I had an insight about why that is, and I have to credit blessed_harlot's posts about Christian Anarchy for a significant amount of the thought leading up to it.

When I talk about sex and/or religion, it tends to be from a very personal, individual perspective. I talk about my own beliefs, my own experiences, always with the explicit or implied disclaimer of "Your Mileage May Vary." When I talk with another person about these topics, the focus is almost always about individual beliefs and experiences. We may have significant differences of opinion, but hopefully we can each honor the personal experiences that shaped those opinions.

The point at which it stops being about personal experience and starts being about other peoples' behavior is where politics begins. The conversation becomes political when it starts being about what each person thinks is best not just for him- or herself but for others as well. It's the point at which someone goes from saying I think it's wrong to ___ and becomes If I had my way, no one would be able to ____.

I am not saying that political conversation is bad. We live in extended communities, and we need to have political discourse -- preferrably conducted with a high level of thoughtfulness and civility. But it's not something I want to engage in in this space. This is a space where my friends and I share personal experiences, not where I debate which set of values should be dominant in the region or nation. It's not that I don't have opinions about such things, it's just that I don't usually want to air them there. (Please note: I have no problem at all with my friends holding such discussions in their own journals. That's their space, and I am free to take part or scroll down as I please.)

I don't know where this contemplation is leading. I wish I had more to say about it now than I do. But this insight felt significant enough to note.

Tags:

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
9thmoon
Jun. 14th, 2009 11:09 pm (UTC)
There are political beliefs that specifically eschew the idea that believing a certain way means that one also believes one has the right to force those beliefs on others in the form of government or law. It's a huge pet peeve of mine, that people think politics is "forcing other people to live by your beliefs". It isn't all that way. That's all I'm going to say because you said you don't want to talk about politics here. I hope I haven't offended by bringing it up, but maybe it's something to let simmer in the back of your mind.
qos
Jun. 14th, 2009 11:20 pm (UTC)
No offense at all!

And of course you're right.
It's a position I'm coming to adopt more and more myself.

The topic is far more complex than I could do justice to in my brief post.

But you're right to suggest that I not fall into the trap of allowing the dominant system to define or limit the paradigm for my reflections in this area.
amqu
Jun. 15th, 2009 07:13 am (UTC)
I think people have different things that interest them. Not that you couldn't be interested in politics, just that it is far down your list of importance. I could be wrong, but I don't see you as an avid follower of cable news.

Just like your religion is personalized to yourself, your politics probably are as well and I don't imagine you'd be a perfect fit in any mainstream political thought.

I am interested in politics while having absolutely no involvement in it. It's fascinating to me. Things have been unraveling for a while, and I like to keep abreast of how fast we're going to hell in a handbasket. ;)

The conversation becomes political when it starts being about what each person thinks is best not just for him- or herself but for others as well. It's the point at which someone goes from saying I think it's wrong to ___ and becomes If I had my way, no one would be able to ____.

I don't know if I agree with this definition. It is too broad. For example, that would mean if you were discussing somebody being raped or murdered and said, "that person should go to jail," you are having a political discussion because you are saying that if you had your way no one should be able to rape or murder.

Of course, now that I write that paragraph and think about it, perhaps you're right. That is why people enact laws and once you start doing that, you have political action.
qos
Jun. 15th, 2009 06:04 pm (UTC)
Yes, it would be a political conversation according to my definition.

I do have an interest in politics, one that's been growing over the past few years, but I get easily frustrated by what seems to be a lack of authentic discourse and true focus on the collective good. Obviously I have my own prejudices about what that "good" looks like, but even so. . .

That is why people enact laws and once you start doing that, you have political action.

Exactly.

And while I don't pretend to be exceptionally well informed about rape or murder cases, it's clear that there are many different values in play regarding how such crimes are defined, how the cases are tried, and what kind of punishment is imposed. There are issues of selective enforcement, definitions of "consent" and "self-defense", and etc. I think that everyone on my friends list could agree "rape and murder are bad" -- but I'm also sure that there could be some lively debates about how such crimes are defined, how they should be punished, and etc.

I want to reiterate that I don't think such conversations or debates are necessarily bad; I just prefer to engage in them in a different space than this journal.

Of course, if I make a post about a political topic then everyone is free to share their own opinions unless otherwise requested or I turn commenting off. ;-)
athenian_abroad
Jun. 15th, 2009 08:05 pm (UTC)
I wonder if the essential difference between the two kinds of conversation you're talking about -- political and non-political -- is whether the conversation needs to arrive at a result.

If we are simply exploring personal experience, the fact that personal experiences differ is a non-problem. We expect difference and, more importantly, we don't have to do anything about it, except perhaps to observe and appreciate.

A political conversation, on the other hand, is aimed at producing a result, usually a choice which will have consequences for many people. And the need to reach a result turns difference into conflict. Conflict need not be vituperative or even unfriendly, but it is a difference that needs to be resolved; to observe and appreciate is not sufficient.

None of this is to say that it's not a good idea to have a low-conflict space. (Nobody ever says, "The problem with the Internet is that there's not enough conflict!") There's plenty of politics on the Internet. I only bring it up to suggest that how we think about and handle (or avoid) conflict might be something to include in the contemplative process.

Of course, your mileage may vary! :-)

qos
Jun. 18th, 2009 01:09 am (UTC)
A political conversation, on the other hand, is aimed at producing a result, usually a choice which will have consequences for many people. And the need to reach a result turns difference into conflict. Conflict need not be vituperative or even unfriendly, but it is a difference that needs to be resolved; to observe and appreciate is not sufficient.

I like this. Thank you.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

Profile

QOS
qos
Queen of Swords

Latest Month

November 2018
S M T W T F S
    123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930 
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Lilia Ahner