Political Action and Social Justice

I don’t know about you, but I really hate politics. Such is my aversion I would rather do public speaking while have dental treatment on the top of a precipice surrounded by snakes and spiders than hand out a political flyer at a railway station. Having said that, I do feel concerned about the world and the people in it, and politics has a big impact on decisions that affect us so I feel some sense of responsibility to get involved in some small way.

I have managed to join a political party and put my name on a few email lists to take action on social issues.  I can sign an occasional online petition but can’t seem to get myself to meetings or rallys or anything overt like that.

My aversion to politics and public affairs in general began in childhood. As a child in the sixties I grew up thinking that the evening news meant war news. By the time I was 9 years old the Vietnam war had been going on my whole life, as far as I could remember.  I recall asking my Sunday School teacher if she thought it would ever end, because to me it had always existed. I still recall night after night of black and white images of soldiers in fatigues struggling through the jungle and bitter political debates about Australia’s role in the war. Ever since I have never wanted to watch TV News programs.

War and cruelty and injustice upset me, but for that very reason, I find it difficult to know how to engage with the issues, it seems so overwhelming. Nevertheless, I am not nine years old anymore, so something I want to do is find better ways to engage with the issues that concern me, without feeling overburdend by “shoulds” or overwhelmed by the immensity of it all.

One small thing I have done towards this goal is to set aside an email account for social and political groups and issues. We have an election coming up later in the year, and I am already receiving a lot of extra emails on pre-selections and other election related topics.I find difficult is going through my general email and being confronted with notifications of all kinds of social justice and political concerns requiring attention. The outcome is I get very distracted, and often don’t give them the attention they deserve because I am not in the right frame of mind to deal with them. So my idea is to have a place where I intentionally go to focus on the big picture issues, at a time when I am ready to think about them. There is a risk that I won’t check the email very often, but I’d like to give it a try because I think I can do more it if I do it in my own time and on my own terms.

Another thing I am trying to do is work out how I can use my strengths to make a difference, rather than focussing on my  weaknesses. Given my personality its likely I will never be comfortable to stand outside a polling booth handing out flyers, or carry a banner in a street march, but I am able to think and feel and write, so maybe I can use those abilities in a productive way.

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