Is politics the end-all, be-all of everything? That’s the question that is going through my mind today. Is politics so central to life that everything circles around it? Is politics a vacuum that sucks everything else into its orbit never to release it again?
Tough questions. This is on my mind for many reasons too numerous to explain here. It is my observation that many people would answer “yes” to the question posed. Some would try to say “no”, but when questioned further, they would probably reluctantly change their answer to “yes.”
And yet, I find myself responding differently – it’s the wrong question. Answering this question with either a yes or no only gives credibility to the notion that politics is the central theme of life. It gives credence to the notion that everything is black and white, right and wrong, 0 or 1. It is the belief that you are either with us or against us. It’s a belief that everything ultimately can be easily fitted into one of two categories.
I don’t buy it. I think there is more. I think there is a different dynamic.
When it comes to politics, labels are important. In fact, they are vital. I believe this is because if something can be labeled, it can be controlled. Remember politics is about power.
What if people either couldn’t be put into a political box or be given an accurate label? What if a person rejected the notion? What would happen? I imagine there would be a great deal of pressure to conform. I imagine there would be pressure to submit to the powers that be and to culture and society and to fit in to the norm.
This situation actually exists pretty often – just ask someone who isn’t liberal or conservative. Someone who doesn’t fit the normal left-right spectrum of politics. People want so desperately to put this person into one of the political boxes. It provides comfort. It provides us a known. We can then refer to our preconceived labels and definitions to know how to deal with this person. Are they a liberal, great, now I know where they stand on all issues (supposedly). Are they conservative, same thing. I know where I conflict with them and where we agree.
This isn’t just pure politics either. It is also true for other things – office politics, religion (are you a liberal/progressive Christian or a conservative/orthodox Christian?)
But what happens when you find a person who doesn’t fit the labels? What if that person refuses to be labeled? You are left uncertain. Those around the person are left wondering – “what do we do with this person?” Lots of unknowns, a lack of control. Yet intriguing. Some people find this situation interesting and use another label – rebel. And yet again, this isn’t accurate either, it’s just another label.
Is politics the center of the universe? That’s the original question. It’s wrong question. It’s the wrong focus, the wrong center point. The wrong starting point. The wrong ending point. Politics is about power and putting people into one group or the other. It is divisive.
What is the center of your universe? What is the thing that drives everything else? Why is it? Could it be something different?
I believe our center is different from this. Each person is different and has a different starting point. For some, it is politics. For others, it is self. For others, it is God. Who knows what else it could be. Our starting point impacts everything else about it. It shapes how we see and experience the world. It drives us to do things and not do other things. It shapes the questions we ask and the answers we seek. It shapes how we see others and interact with others. The center varies for each of us.
I’ll ask again – what is the center of your universe? What is the core of who/whose you are? Is it really, or are you just saying that because it is what you would like to believe?