“Politics affects our everyday lives more than we can imagine.”
It is not uncommon to hear people say, “I’m apolitical.” Or, “I am politically neutral.”
But more often than not, it is difficult, if not impossible, for one to be apolitical. This is for the simple reason that political neutrality is a privilege that many of us could not afford.
Man, Aristotle famously said, is a political animal. In fact, society itself cannot be politically neutral. We are governed by law, and ruled by politicians. The entire social apparatus of our everyday life—what and how we believe society should be—will always have political interest. Our schools, businesses—and even churches—cannot escape living a political existence.
The truth of the matter is that politics affects us more in our everyday lives than most people realize.
Some people think it is possible to always stay on the sideline, trying to ignore the prevailing political issues of the day.
But sooner or later, politics will always be personal.
Ask that of a father who recently lost his job. Or a mother who continues to worry where the next meal is going to come from. Or the children who were forced to stop going to school.
Or a landless farmer, the abused OFW, the wrongly accused or the helpless PWD.
None of them will ever have the privilege of ignoring politics. Whether they know it or not, their plight requires a political solution.
That is why to be neutral in politics is simply impossible for many. Not only will our choices matter, making a choice is of fundamental importance in building the future for our families and in creating society as a whole.
Even those who may have the luxury of detaching themselves from politics—the moneyed and the powerful—mustn’t do so, for their own neutrality could impact the lives of the people around them.
For example, the employer in reference to their employees. Artists and writers with regard to their craft. Even the Church in connection with the common good.
Politics will affect us, even if we deliberately detach ourselves from it.
Sooner or later, when the economy begins to hit the workers, it will be a matter of time before business is hurt badly.
When artists and writers are repressed from expressing themselves freely, sooner or later, their craft will turn hollow and empty.
If the Church fails to attend to the bodily welfare of their faithful, how can they convince them that it cares for their souls.
We may have opposing political and moral views, and may disagree on how the issues of the day would be best resolved, but making a political choice is crucial in identifying what the problem is, and recognizing that in many ways it requires a collective solution.
Our choice of leaders, for example, will always be the primary criterion in the quality of our political governance. The actions of these leaders will then inevitably determine the course of our nation’s future.
It is not possible to escape the political consequences of our everyday decisions by simply ignoring politics, because it will always redound to our own individual rights.
People will always tussle on delicate issues such as divorce, or reproductive rights. Some people will agree to uphold it, others would think otherwise. But no matter the side of the debate you stand, realizing that your way of life—or your conscience is on the line—should be more than enough reason for you to consider making a political choice.
People try to ignore the important part of our lives that politics play just to avoid conflict. Some think that political discussion only ever brought division and debate. But the sad truth is, while avoiding politics may be bliss for you, your inaction could be detrimental to others. After all, as it is often said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel said it right: “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
In fact, it is our responsibility that we inform ourselves about politics, learn as much as we can about all sides of the issues of the day, and in the end, develop our own opinion and take action. Fence sitting cannot be not an option. In fact, choosing not to have a political choice—simply put, is in itself a political choice. But unlike those who stand on opposite sides of the divide, the unquestioning and the hypocritical shamelessly hide behind their privilege. It is a political choice that in the end benefits no one.
There is no neutral gear when it comes to the important things in our lives. We cannot slide sideways into a rewarding career, a lasting relationship, or a meaningful sense of self. There is similarly no coasting into a thriving future for our communities.
There are really only two gears: Forward and reverse. In the end, if we are not pushing forward on the things that really matter and keeping close and constant watch over our path, we are always at risk of slipping into reverse. When we choose to be neutral, or so to speak, “take our feet off the gas,” we do not only deny a lasting cure to injustice and poverty, we allow inequality and oppression to become part of the normal state of things.
In eight months, our nation will cast the votes for the next leader of the nation, possibly the most important political decision that we will make for the next six years. We cannot afford to stay neutral, not when the lives and welfare of our people is at stake.
“Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” – John Stuart Mill (1867)