I’ve been fascinated with politics most of my life. When I was eleven, I remember following the 1987 New Zealand parliamentary election very closely, and cheering National Leader Mr Bolger on as he took on the charismatic, but almost asbergically awkward Labour Prime Minister Lange. At the time my knowledge of policy was limited to the fact that Labour were driving farmers off their land, and ignoring massive petitions to stop dudes from legally being able to hook up with dudes. I barely knew what that entailed, but I knew I didn’t like it. Lange had to go!
Most people never quite move beyond this juvenile sort of analysis. In the United States it is practically a point of pride to indulge in this shallow sort of discourse. I am fortunate to be one of the few who has realised life is a little more complicated than that. And there’s the rub: People like me will always be in a minority. And guess what? The minority in a democracy always loses. To get anywhere in a democracy, one basically has to lie and pretend one is as stupid as one’s potential voters.
This very fact is what has completed my disillusion. If you were to examine my political views alongside people like Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz, there would be very little daylight. But I cringe whenever I hear them talk, because they are dumbing themselves down all the time. Calling Barack Obama a socialist and saying he violates the US Constitution may play well with the bulk of ig’nant voters, but I know both those statements are not true. Don’t get me wrong, I loathe Obama’s politics, and I dearly wish this great nation had not been cursed with his Presidency. He is vain, he prevaricates, he is himself shallow, he is a poor leader… but a socialist and a violator of the constitution he is not. And I feel awkward when the people who are supposedly “on my side” are essentially making hyperbolic or false statements about him. I can’t participate in that. And look, I’d love to see President Ted Cruz, or President Rand Paul, but I can’t condone saying that stuff, because if I said it, I couldn’t look myself in the mirror. That’s why I’ve never seriously tried to be a political activist in my time in the United States. Too many rats to swallow.
On top of it all, my political philosophy is starting to change. I’m not really sure if I’m a libertarian any more. I struggle with the valuelessness of a libertarian viewpoint. To me it encourages a vacuum in values, which those with bad values (ie. Muslims) are all too eager to fill. And frankly, while I agree that people should be able to do whatever they want if they are also prepared to take responsibility for it, a large part of me also asks the question “If an action is universally bad, and has universally bad consequences, even if it doesn’t cause direct harm to others, why shouldn’t it be illegal? What good purpose does it serve to be legal?
All this led me to unsubscribe from all my political Facebook feeds a couple of days ago. I don’t want to read that crap any more. I feel that world is not going to change with my participation any time soon. I prefer to leave it in the hands of God. And I don’t want to be angry any more. Anger leads to hate, and hate leads to the Dark Side. It doesn’t seem very compatible with my spiritual journey, and with the Orthodox faith, where I am called to love.
Does this mean I will never furthermore engage with the political world? Not necessarily. If called, I will serve. But if I have anything to do with it, I couldn’t care less. Politics is of the World, and if I am going to engage with the World, it had better be for a bloody good reason. I’d rather focus on the spiritual life, and if the spiritual life leads me back there, then well and good. If it doesn’t, so much the better.