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.’

1 comment:

Eric said...

It's very similar to the idea in NLP that some people are motivated "toward" something (like a goal) and others are more motivated "away from" something (like suffering or discomfort).

When people are comfortable, why bother "fixing what ain't broke." So to them, the system isn't broken, and needs no adjustment. People who are comfortable may simply not be as motivated because of their comfort.

Remember Linda from our class? She's a political science professor, and she was telling me about some of the more controversial things our founding fathers wrote or said. One of them (I don't remember who) said that America's governmental system required outright violent revolution by the people every few generations to purge the government of corruption. But why revolt when things are fine for you and people like you?

It reminds me of a conversation I had with Jeb Bush in Florida sometime around 1994. He honestly told me that he didn't think discrimination was still a problem in America - back then! Well, that's because he lives in a private gated community with Madonna and Gloria Estefan as neighbors. He was awfully insulated from reality, so America was the land of opportunity for him - a rich white Christian man living the American dream.