Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Of Course It Is Political

I am used to religious folk saying their actions are not political. And I expect it. This is part of how society has relegated religion to the private sphere of life and insisted it has no legitimate voice in the politics of a liberal democracy. That I get, dislike, but I get it.

But... today on the radio there was talk about taking elementary school kids down to the Supreme Court to sing and give speeches contesting the disparity between their education privileges and what is afforded to the First Nation's children. I think this is awesome to get kids politically involved. However, when one of the organizing teachers was interviewed she said, "I don't think this is political," before outlining the form of social action and judging the situation as systemic racism. She even said that part of what they have been teaching this year is how democracy is all of us, our right to stand up and be heard. So what part of that is not political?

What disturbs me is that it is quite possible that the term political is changing meaning in the modern usage - and becoming something quite useless. Political seems to only mean partisan involvement and not the whole sphere of public discourse that shapes society. And if we let politicians have exclusive domain over what is political then do we not abdicate our democratic responsibility? Oh wait, that explains why we have a Harper government instead of a Canadian government. It all becomes disturbingly clear now.

Seriously, what we do in the public that is meant to critique or shape the public is political.

More than being political, this is exactly how it is supposed to work. It is what makes our social structure different from totalitarianism or monarchism or even communism. All words that seem to strike terror in those same people who are letting go of their right to be politically engaged - yes, to do politics. And to do politics unabashedly from their own religious perspectives (even, and especially, from those I disagree with) because that is how it works. When we lay this down then we have a relativistic blob that is easily subverted by the ruling regime while we follow along like the proverbial lemmings.

I dare you. Be political. I know I am.

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