Be­ware of pol­i­tics


IT IS im­por­tant to be aware and con­scious of our in­ner movements amidst the in­creas­ing po­lit­i­cal tem­per­a­ture brought about by the elec­tion fever.

Pol­i­tics is di­vi­sive and we should have the abil­ity to man­age it be­fore it would con­trol us.

Po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tists have been telling (or bet­ter say con­vinc­ing) us that, “ev­ery­thing is po­lit­i­cal.” This as­ser­tion came from the Greek philoso­pher Aris­to­tle who con­tends that “man by na­ture is a po­lit­i­cal animal” and un­less one is a beast or a god, there is no other op­tion ex­cept to live in the “po­lis” (city-state) where one finds full­ness in hu­man­iza­tion. In the face of all the mess that is due to pol­i­tics, we can­not but ask whether there’s still sense or truth in the said as­ser­tion.

True, pol­i­tics is in all prac­ti­cal as­pects nec­es­sary and un­avoid­able, how­ever, we must not be­lieve with­out qual­i­fi­ca­tion that ev­ery­thing is po­lit­i­cal. The word “po­lit­i­cal” is im­por­tant but also dan­ger­ous. It is a word, which if at­tached to a cer­tain re­gion of hu­man ex­is­tence, may either make one’s life bet­ter or bit­ter.

Part of the prob­lem, I be­lieve, is the overem­pha­sis of pol­i­tics as a “prac­tice” or “technique” rather than a means to a good life. We need to re­trieve a lost as­pect of pol­i­tics and that is the con­cep­tion of good life not merely in terms of struc­tural or so­cial ar­range­ments. A good life is in­sep­a­ra­ble from good will, i.e. in the end the abil­ity to deal and re­late with peo­ple in and with greater free­dom.

If un­der­stood in the light of the fore­go­ing, pol­i­tics is an im­por­tant as­pect of liv­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, such is not the case with pol­i­tics to­day. Re­duced to a mere mech­a­nism of power, it has more to do with so­cial con­trol rather than “good life.” We need not won­der why even ordinary peo­ple in the streets are as divided as their politi­cians. More un­for­tu­nate is the re­al­ity that re­li­gions have to be turned into ide­olo­gies in order to ad­vance po­lit­i­cal con­vic­tions.

“Politi­cians do not know us per­son­ally.” Ex­cept for a few of their sup­port­ers who are their rel­a­tives and close friends, these politi­cians re­ally do not care about our daily trans­ac­tions. They do not know our chil­dren and their needs, and nei­ther do they care about our ori­gins and all. Ba­si­cally, they want our votes and that’s it.

It is im­por­tant to keep these hard facts in mind oth­er­wise we shall be mov­ing back and forth into the same dark cave full of frustrations which we call pol­i­tics. The bit­ter pill that we should swal­low is the truth that pol­i­tics is not, can­not, and will not save us from all our problems. The prob­lem be­gins when we cre­ate grand nar­ra­tives about pol­i­tics that make us delu­sional.

There is dan­ger when peo­ple would start turn­ing to­wards po­lit­i­cal idols in the be­lief that their per­sonal problems would be solved di­rectly by fight­ing for an “all out par­ti­san so­lu­tion.” While grand scale analy­ses may give an ex­pla­na­tion as to why we live the way we do, it also shuts our senses and dis­ables us from see­ing that as hu­man per­sons we sim­ply have the capacity to rise over and above a politi­cized life. Life may be lived within the con­text of a po­lit­i­cal lo­cus but this does not mean that all of our be­ing should be crip­pled or par­a­lyzed be­cause of our anger, ha­tred, and frustrations that are all due to pol­i­tics.

We may be bound, to some ex­tent, to par­tic­i­pate po­lit­i­cally but we also have the choice not to be swal­lowed up by politi­ciza­tions. Of­fice work, for ex­am­ple, need not be ham­pered by po­lit­i­cal al­liances, and friend­ships need not be bro­ken just be­cause of differences or di­ver­gences in par­ti­san align­ments.

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