This may be one of the most politically charged times in our history. Resurgent Nazis, nuclear threats, incompetent and greedy rulers, obstructionist legislation: all of that and more comes around on a daily basis. It’s understandable to want to get away from it.
I don’t mean the larger politics in play. I mean politics in general. We humans are social creatures, and with society comes hierarchy. It’s been that way for millennia. We are only just now starting to look for inherent value in others as individuals, rather than pushing others — and ourselves — into specific socio-political strata. It’s common to worry about how we are perceived by others when we make decisions and take action. The more people who can observe these things, the more that fear can drive the decisions we make in turn.
This leads to uncomfortable questions. Do you choose what is right, or what is popular? Which matters more to you, your reputation or your integrity? What, or whom, is worth sacrificing or destroying in the name of your advancement within the power structure in question? Do you help another, or do you pursue your own ends?
When we step back and examine decisions we’ve made, it can be difficult to see which are “right” and which are “wrong.” It’s a cost-benefit analysis that involves human lives, relationships, and decisions rooted in anxiety and fear of isolation or abandonment. None of these things are easy to examine. Even resolving to make better decisions, to be a more inclusive and compassionate person in lieu of popularity and social standing, is painful. We remember what, and whom, we’ve already lost. We fear the shifting web of allegiances we may alter with future decisions. At what point does your desire for better personal integrity finally outweigh the politics of a social circle? When do we finally decide that we’re fed up with a system that obliterates one person for another’s personal profit?
“Mostly, I’m tired of people being ugly to each other.” — John Coffey, “The Green Mile”
I won’t stop wanting people to do better. It’s what I’ve wanted others to want for me. To believe in others as I’d want to them to believe in me. It pisses me off when people let me down — they make selfish decisions to preserve their station, or worse, cloak those selfish decisions in compassionate words, or do what they do in the name of a nebulous “greater good.” It’s the very definition of hypocrisy.
To paraphrase Shakespeare, my gorge rises at such utter bullshit.
We’re surrounded by injustice. We’re trapped in a world corrupted by politics and selfishness. We’re responsible, in measures large and small, for the mess we are in. We’ve made decisions that have contributed to the shitpile, and we’ve even tried to ignore the smell because it’s warm and familiar.
You can stay there, if you want.
Or you can break out, take a shower, and realize just how much it fucking stinks.
It’s your choice.
On Fridays I write 500 words.
Spider Jerusalem created by Warren Ellis and Darrick Robertson.
For a more in-depth examination of politics, watch CGP Grey’s “Rules for Rulers” here: