What does it mean to be non-political in today’s sociopolitical climate? To start with, it means choosing to not care about issues that don’t affect us personally.
With news broadcasted on every medium from television to our phones, it is hard to go a minute without stumbling upon one bad news after another. Deportation, climate issues, or feminist struggles, it might be tempting to close off from the harsh realities of the world and demand for non-political conversations and non-political spaces. However, being non-political does not equate to being an optimist who views the world through rose-tinted glasses – it makes us oblivious and privileged. The ability to choose to be non-political, and to demand conversations or spaces be non-political is evidence of an invisible privilege not accessible by all.
Being in this sphere of privilege means topics such as losing one’s family due to change in immigration policies only occur in everyday conversation, and are not faced in reality. It is also the power to change the conversation from such ‘uncomfortable’ topics, using one’s advantage granted to them by society’s preference of that gender, ethnicity, sexuality, age, and/or class. While privilege by any means does not mitigate hardships, it essentially awards the privileged the luxury of a life with struggles that do not stem from sexism, racism, bigotry, ageism, classism, and other forms of discrimination.
Although privilege shields us from such worries, it also deepens the divide created by society. The choice to be non-political in today’s world means to be apathetic and complicit, and it amplifies inequality. The idea of ‘politics’ being a dirty word makes it hard to remember that these issues are situations of life or death to those identities who do not fit into the ‘privileged’ mould. Despite all this, being privileged can be an asset in balancing the scales of justice, and it starts with changing the perspective of what being ‘political’ looks like.
The simple awareness of what’s happening around us is political. Every choice we make is a political statement, from who we vote for to where we shop – so in that sense, being non-political is a political act too. When we choose to be non-political, we choose to be oblivious to the countless number of people facing issues in their everyday lives which we may never encounter, all to avoid uncomfortable conversations in social settings. But why should talking about politics bring discomfort? There is a distinction between taking all the information provided to form political opinions, and being opinionated without basis – and it all starts by having these conversations in the first place.
While one person’s actions cannot abolish laws or save our planet from climate change, it is a cumulative effort of the actively political. It is the slow progression of raising awareness, and using one’s privilege to influence and affect change that matters. Being actively political comes in all shapes and forms.
– Supporting local businesses trying their best to be sustainable and ethical
– Saying no to single-use plastics
– Buying from ethical brands, second-hand stores and sourcing for sustainable materials
– Doing research about the meat we buy, and where it comes from
– Fact-checking any misinformation proliferated by social media before forming an opinion
– Intervening or reporting instances of casual harassment or inappropriate behaviour
– Signing petitions, attending protests, or even keeping track of policy changes
Whether we choose to be discreet about our politics or shout out our beliefs and values, what matters is that we can bring about the change we want to see in our community. Even the simple act of reflecting on society’s progresses and shortcomings, helps us understand how change can be made for the better, and takes away the stigma of political talk. The motive behind discussing politics should not be to attack, offend or change someone’s mindset, but rather to gain perspective. It is about making well-informed decisions to end the perpetual oppression of certain groups, and collectively work towards a more open and equal society.