Personal Politics

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“So, has your group been talking about CAB/NRC?”

My tone is mild. My ears, however, are alert, straining to hear nuance amidst the words. It is a letdown, however. Saathi deflects and turns the spotlight on me for wanting to talk about things divisive and ugly.

I turn away, the warmth of the hot stove matching how I feel inside. I tell myself there is no point in outrage. There really is none. Armchair activism feels good but does nothing. Unless I am out there in the streets making my voice heard, there is little that I can do to effect change. Even that, possibly an exercise in assuaging the self that we are indeed making some noise.

Since 2014, I have seen a steady stream of people I count as friends lean farther and farther right. The few I know who are progressive are shouting hoarse where they can. I follow both. I tell myself to be objective. I try visiting conservative news portals.

I realize I am biased. I truly hate sexism. I hate bullies. I might call myself fiscally conservative but in all things that matter to me at this point in my life, I am a raging liberal. After weeks and months of pontification, I realized the only thing I can ever do that is meaningful is to vote. Exercise my franchise and make sure that my voice is one of the many that is heard and counted. I have been trying to follow local issues, read up on candidates who stand for each board and township. I have shown up each election day with my children to ensure they see that voting matters.

I see my home country burn. I ache in a way that goes beyond nostalgia. I gave up my right to vote willingly. I tell myself my opinion on what is happening there does not count as there is little I can do about it. I meticulously unfollow voices that trigger me. These are people I have known since my childhood. I flinch when I see forwards on Hindutva on my Whatsapp groups. I leave groups. I isolate myself.

I have learned engaging with people who are convinced about their right-wing politics is just as pointless as trying to make me see good on the other side. I ignore politics and engage with people instead, compartmentalizing the personal and the political.

As the world around me burns, I am conflicted. Politics is personal. In one country, my ilk makes others out of neighbors. In the country I am in, I am othered. Reconciling what is happening worldwide seems impossible. I have chosen to stay silent. I have chosen to speak only with my vote. I have also chosen to state on record:

I am against hate.

I am against homophobia.

I am against gendered violence.

I am against misogyny.

I am against organized religion.

I am against unregulated gun rights.

I am for equality.

I am for humanity.

I am for love.

I am for women’s rights over their bodies.

Most of all, I want an inclusive, peace-loving society. To those speaking up, I am with you. To those marching for justice, I am with you.

 

 

Laksh

Author. Parent.

8 thoughts on “Personal Politics

  1. I am with you. I wish I had as strong opinions as you do on matters that matter. I do but it is not borne from the conviction that you have because I am not as informed. One thing I want to do more of!

  2. Truth is…
    I see my home country burn. I ache in a way that goes beyond nostalgia. I gave up my right to vote willingly. I tell myself my opinion on what is happening there does not count as there is little I can do about it. I meticulously unfollow voices that trigger me. These are people I have known since my childhood. I flinch when I see forwards on Hindutva on my Whatsapp groups. I leave groups. I isolate myself.

  3. Well said. I am also a bystander listening to both sides. I want love and peace and harmony before anything else. I vote for humanity like you.

  4. Oh this feels so good to read – for this is how I feel, so often. I have never been one to make political or economic arguments with ease, and I find it is easier to see if there is warmth in the person I am engaging with, compassion that I can see, and block out the political – what I cannot see.

    Dum inter homines sumus, colamus humanitatem
    As long as we are human, let us be humane – Seneca

  5. Thankyou so, so much for this. I am so disgusted to see the right wing nasty politics flourish, but now it’s not even about who is doing it- whether right wing or left wing. I want the country that India has always wanted to be. Secular, sovereign, democratic. Not just in the great bundle of pages written 70 years ago, but in practise. I want to see people practise what they preach. This is very well written.

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