Thursday, March 06, 2008
Politics as Usual?
Arundhati Roy is the female Indian author of “God of Small Things,” among many other best-selling books. I watched her conversation with Howard Zinn (author of “A People’s History of the United States”) last night. It was recorded after she delivered herself of a speech titled “Come September.”
Arundhati spoke of having been reared by a mother in a Syrian Christian village. Her mother had divorced, an act highly unacceptable to the social norms for a woman of her time and place.
Arundhati reflected that when one is born outside of the protections and rights afforded by a group to its members (in her case, her falling outside of the acceptable norm of Syrian Christians in her village), one cannot help but be political, that it is in one’s blood out of necessity.
That got me to thinking about our own society and the rights of life given by it to persons whom it deems fit for membership.
For us in America, at this time, the demographics for acceptance into membership are being middle class, heterosexual, male and white. If you fit that category, politics may or may not matter to you. Regardless, you are bestowed with all of the protections and benefits given at this time to the majority in power; you are born into being part of the establishment. If, however, you happen to fall into any other category, none of that is taken for granted. It is likely that you will be highly energized and interested in the politics of the day. It is a matter of survival.
Being myself one of those persons who was not blessed to be born into mainstream society (I’m white, middle class and male, but not heterosexual), I often fantasize about what it must be like to not be concerned one way or the other about current political events, what it must be like to feel that none of it really concerns me, that it doesn’t matter.
Perhaps that is what people mean by the phrase ‘politics as usual.’