Recently, whilst discussing a future yarn bomb with some fellow crafters, the issue of combining politics with knit graffiti was raised. Without intending any flippancy, I made the off-hand comment that everything I do tends to be steeped in politics. I’ve been thinking about that a lot in the last few days, and I wonder if everything I do does have a political element.
That is, is everything inherently political to those more politically inclined?
Obviously, the things I do at home and outside my ‘day job’ are not necessarily political. Or not intentionally so. If that were the case, not only would I drive my husband and cat absolutely mad, I’d do my own head in (more so than I already have)!
Certainly though, because of my career choices, much of what I do for work tends towards the political sphere and can’t help but carry controversy amongst some. And, given how I work as well as where my ‘home office’ is, it’s difficult at best to separate work from everything else. But, did I choose my career because of my political interests? Or am I interested politically because of my own career choices? Does it really matter?
I don’t have any answer, and I’m not sure that it really matters. What I have noticed as I’ve bumbled along that merry-go-round called life is that I recognise the political in the mundane more often then not. Certainly, engaging in policy debates and discussions, working out how to make my own little corner of this gigantic world better and the outcomes of my own work all carry consequences, most often political.
But, perhaps more meaningful are the the products I consume, the small businesses I support, the news items and outlets I read and share, and the organisations and agencies with whom I work all of which speak more about my own ‘community’ and tend to reflect the sort of world I hope we can all eventually live in. If an agency has questionable ethics or a product was produced through less-than-admirable conditions, is it worth it? Not really, at least not to me. There is a human cost which has nothing to do with money in any currency, and recognising those costs is one aspect of the choices we make each day.
Perhaps that is political. Mostly, though, it’s more about hoping that each of my actions and those of my own small family have a positive impact on the world around us, and, in particular, support policies which are just and humane and place value on each individual rather than a particular class or ethnicity or gender. Or even place more value on one individual over another. We may not have all been given the same opportunities in life or born into similar circumstances, but we are all worthy and deserving.
If that makes everything I do inherently political, I’m okay with that.
If your country’s political system prevents you from expressing your political views and preferences, they would have to vent out in a different sphere. The pools that this fish has lived in are, for better or worse, characterized by everyday involvement in politics. Politics is pervasive in the US. If you are not a Democrat and not a Republican, you are not really a human being. You complain to somebody about something related to your health — you end up having to express an opinion on Obamacare; you discuss education — you end up commenting whether it is true that red states have lower average IQ; etc. Politics is pervasive in Russia. If you are not Putin or one of his closest allies… see above. You missed the worst of suppressed politics (кухонные посиделки интеллигентов) by about 20-30 years, though. Living in a relatively (by American standards) small speckle in mid-Missouri, I would love to shop in Whole Foods, but the environmental impact of a two-hour drive to St Louis will likely outweigh the benefits of doing so… thus I end up buying my organic milk in Walmart.
I wonder how politics works in Finland, and how my above theory may apply there :).
Interesting observations, Stas. I’m not sure if you knew it, but I grew up in a smaller town on the outskirts of St Louis (lived there from the time I was 3 until 18 when I left for university). And, I totally relate to *those* types of conversations. But, I wonder if for your experience, it has something to do with being in a ‘college’ town? Just a thought. I wouldn’t be surprised at all politics took over comments on the weather anymore! But, that’s just me. 😉
It’s hard for us to really understand how politics works here since we aren’t so great with the language (shame on us, right?), although we can now vote in municipal elections, which we did in the last elections. It was fascinating. At the same time that I was engaged in the US elections, I was also trying to figure out who to vote for here! Made me wish our system in the US had a greater range of ‘voices’ from which to support. So many more parties to choose from, and the one public debate we went to was mostly very civilised and free of drama (other than a True Finn candidate who was himself an immigrant but seemed to be against immigration, this in a room full of immigrants!). My sense is that politics is not so pervasive unless one is politically active and passionate about particular issues. I’ve been involved in one ‘protest’ action (a yarn bomb of the Parliament building in support of marriage equality) and it was also drama free. There was a quiet discussion about whether we had ‘permission’ for the action, a security guard quietly walked away to call someone else, and then came back and said, ‘ok’. This as we were finishing! But, it was incredibly calm compared to other actions in other countries. But, then, for many issues here in Finland, there is more focus on ensuring equal opportunity and equal access to services (health, education, etc.) on a societal level, which removes the controversy in my mind. If you start with the idea that social and economic justice are most important for everyone’s well-being, you’re already further along than most places.
Anyway….and no need to go to Wal-Mart or Whole Foods (which has its own issues as well!). Look for a local produce co-op. Most cities / communities have them and you’ll get a box of produce every week / two-weeks depending upon the production. They may require some volunteer time. I never had the extra cash in grad school to join one, but would occasionally get the goods when a friend / professor, etc was traveling and I house sitting! 🙂
Thanks for the thought-provoking comment, Stas!
Pingback: Let’s not talk about politics | A Tropical Fish Out of Water