How to Handle Politics?

I’m not interested in politics. I’m not really a big picture person. As long as things are ticking along smoothly I’m happy for other people to handle the details of how the country is run. Fortunately I live in a country where democracy works well and I enjoy a peaceful and stable society in which I can pursue my own thing.

One reason I don’t like politics is that it tends to be negative and conflictual. I am not someone who enjoys a good argument. I my mind, there is no such thing as a good argument. Thats the nature of my personality. I tend to think  “everyone is entitled to their opinion”, and I don’t like to create tension by highlighting differences. However because I tend to hold minority views, I sometimes forget to include myself in the “everyone” who is entitled to an opinion, and keep mine hidden.

Although I am in an introspective phase personally, I do occasionally take a peep outside my bubble and there are wider issues that concern me.  I am not interested in the mechanics of politics, but I am interested in values and how they determine our behaviour collectively and individually. I have solved this conundrum by joining a “greenish” political party which aligns with my values, and then keeping my membership a secret. I am also on the mailing list for a variety of social action groups and sign my name to petitions for various causes, although I never take the next step of passing them on to my Facebook Friends.

In two weeks Australia will be holding a Federal Election which will determine our national government. It seems like political pendulum is swinging towards a more conservative government, and thats a concern for me because issues that I care about like social justice and protecting the environment are likely to suffer.

If the election is close, then the smaller parties could have a strong influence in policy formulation, and I would prefer that influence to be held by a party that advocates for the environment and tolerance of diversity. I am going to feel bad if Australia ends up with an ultra-conservative government and I did nothing to speak up for my point of view.

I have been asked to hand out “How to Vote” cards at polling booths. I sat on the request email for a few days unsure about how to respond. I don’t want to say Yes; I don’t want to say No. I want to use my influence on strangers, but I don’t want to put pressure on my friends and family.

Rather than adopting my usual strategy which is “when in doubt do nothing” I have decided to do the smallest active thing I can possibly do and see how that goes. So I am planning to try handing out How to Votes at the pre-election polling booth and see what it feels like. Then I can decide if I want to do it on the main polling day.

I am still researching material on muliti-potentialites, scanners and renaissance souls ie those of us who have a variety of interests and like to move between them. People with this tendency often want to try things out and see how they feel before committing to a course of action. We tend to get very involved in things for a time, but then move on to other interests. What I am learning is that you don’t have to be the backbone of an organisation or the leader of a social movement to be able to make a significant contribution at a critical time. I am thinking that maybe I can engage in two weeks of my own style of political activity leading up to the election, then shift my attention back to other concerns.

My own style of politics is still forming, but I think it would be characterised by thinking out loud and allowing others to do the same. This gives me a little more scope for expressing my concerns, so that at least others know what I think and I am taking some responsibility for shaping the values that drive my community.

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