A little bit of love, resistance and political activism
In this post I wanted to discuss political engagement. I think it is something that is missing from so many peoples’ lives an it’s difficult to be thoughtful and engaged citizens all of the time. Even as a student who, for the past five years, has been learning about political issues on a daily basis, I have never been to a protest or written a letter to any level of government and I have never even volunteered for a party during an election campaign. And it can be overwhelming keeping up with all the news that is happening out there. The amount of information is infinite, and it’s intimidating. Sometimes I honestly feel I am a terrible and lazy political science student, but over the years I have come to develop my own notions about politics, my own goals, and my own forms of activism.
By definition politics is about the struggle for power. The who, what, where, when, why, and how of power. This can be the power that is possessed by the ruling political party of a country, the government, or even the power differences between a man and a woman. All relationships are political. However, something else my favorite university teacher taught me is that politics is fundamentally about human psychology. Every decision, every person’s perspective on an issue or their reaction in a certain situation is based on their experiences and the chemistry in their brains. Politics is about the differences between individuals and between groups of people; how we can best live peacefully with those differences.
Take radio for example. I love radio and choose to work in it because I enjoy it and am good at it, but also because it has an inherent ability to bring people together; to create a sense of community. I have met so many people working in radio, extremely genuine people who, despite the fact that we hardly know each other, are very kind and open. Radio is a very local form of media. While it is about providing the community with local information, it also about sharing stories and about human interaction. This to me working in radio is a form of political action.
Not all political action is harmonious and loving though. An extremely important concept to learn in politics is the simple phrase “Where there is power, there is resistance.” The state is never the only thing that exercises political power. For example, many fashion trends used to be political statements made against the mainstream. Tattoos and piercing used to be a form of resistance and opposition.
My relationship with my best friend puzzled me for quite some time. We have substantial differences in our beliefs and values and I sometimes wondered if I betrayed my own beliefs and values through the relationship. I was in a Feminist Theory class last year and we talked about media adds targeting women, about what kind of messages they give, what does being a woman mean, how if femininity socially constructed. My best friend is exactly that girl we were talking about; she doesn’t think about the mainstream depictions of women and buys into everything she is sold. But I realized just because she doesn’t hold all the same beliefs I do, doesn’t mean we cannot be friends. In fact, I have learnt a very valuable lesson from this relationship. It’s actually a very positive thing that we can have such difference and still respect and care for one another. One thing that was not taught in my Feminist Theory class, was that women need to love other women. Girls especially are quick to judge one another. I am no different if I degrade other girls because they choose to wear makeup all the time, and I choose not to. My relationship with my best friend is something I consider a form of resistance. There are things in life that we are expected to do, whether it’s dying our hair or forming our relationships. In any situation when we stop and think and discover the ways our decisions are affected by the outside world, this is a form of political resistance.
So even if we aren’t all the poster-child for political activism, I urge you to think about your own ways you try and make a difference in your day to day life. What your goals may be, whether they are using all local ingredients for supper tonight, or working to strengthen your community.