I have never drafted anything that decisively addresses the topic of politics, and depending on how you choose to look at and think of the state of our world, my timing couldn’t be more interesting. I am admittedly and until now somewhat purposefully inexperienced when it comes to discussing or debating politics, and so as I take more time to educate myself, I will stick first to establishing my concerns and beliefs–ironically both products of my education. So this post will not serve as a sounding board to offer opinion on current political figures and policy; instead, this entry will examine and outline the emergence of my own politics. In some way, I view this as the premise for my understanding of others and politics at large. Now, if I sound a bit Romantic, philosophical, or ambiguous in my words, let it be known that much of my sociopolitical development has long been influenced by ancient philosophers, Transcendentalist thinkers, and Civil Rights Movement leaders of the mid-twentieth century.
Perhaps I am more interested now than ever in our world’s political well-being because I now find myself more invested in life than ever before. If you read my blog entry from yesterday, then this comment may come with little surprise. Yet despite the immense undertaking of thought that I am intentionally undergoing, I am inclined to believe that a process of maturation that shifts a man’s concern beyond his own being to that of his family, community, country, and therefore world is an inevitable force that captures any and all that actively seek growth. Sometimes we know not our intentions until they present themselves with undeniable and inescapable fervor. This phenomenon has proven to show itself in the form of understanding myself, how I wish to live, and how that may impact my community and those beyond my immediate reach. And therein possibly lies the premise for any political understanding, as politics itself is defined in most dictionaries along these lines: The activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power. Take a moment to digest that. As a language educator, I am immediately drawn to the words “governance,” “debate,” “conflict,” and “power” (among others). Moreover, I am compelled to recognize their most obvious common denominator: people.
And what is at the heart of people? Among many possible answers, I find the individual. And at the heart of the individual exists the fundamental truth that most young adults have likely heard in various forms: It’s hard to affect change beyond yourself if you are unwilling to affect change amid your own life. In considering this thought, the teacher in me quickly races to themes of credibility and personal responsibility. Would Romantics far and wide have followed Emerson and Thoreau had they not challenged the Age of Reason and industrialization? Would oppressed minorities and even some oppressors and white moderates have followed or been swayed by the words and actions of Martin Luther King, Jr. had he not literally stood on the front lines of protests with great courage and demands? So will my family, community, and places far reaching look upon me with favor and admiration should I not embody what I know to be right and just? This is what I think of when I think of the aforementioned terms that help define “politics,” for my politics consider my ability to govern my life, engage in healthy debate, invite, embrace, and resolve conflict, and do everything in my power to empower myself and those around me. While all of my ramblings may defy what you expected to read when politics made today’s headline, I cannot help but recognize the inherent nature whereby man must know and grow his own soul should he wish to help others do the same. This brings me to family.
How is it that my wife and I will govern our home? How will we demonstrate and promote growth and fairness? These, among so many others, are questions that I believe any person must wrestle with. These ideas are not new in nature, but I believe they reveal themselves at various and different points in life for all people, and perhaps more importantly, they likely mean vastly different things to every single person–and that is fine.
I cannot yet–or maybe ever–define my politics as they may relate to those mainstream. I have long hesitated to do so, but as I grow, I find myself less hesitant to confront that which bears confrontation. And that which needs confronting, as much as anything else, is how we build ourselves so that we may help build others. Maybe the greatest thoughts we have endure, evolve, and find no better way of existing than to challenge everything we think we know.
I hope that this reflection made some sense and resembled cohesive thought in some way, shape, or form. Like so many other things, examining my thoughts has left me with more questions than assertions. And maybe, as any writer hopes for, I’ve left you with room to challenge mine and consider your own.
A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.