Staying out of politics is privilege

Hey, I’ll be honest. I’m one of those for whom it would be very easy to just “stay out of politics”. To post snide remarks about how all of you can argue about politics, but I’m just not going to waste my time with the bother. To shrug it all off. After all, I’m a well-educated, 45-year-old straight white cisgender man, in a heterosexual marriage, in good health, within accepted norms of physical attractiveness, employed, and (even with the move back to the Seattle area and going back to apartment living) fairly comfortably middle-class with a healthy financial cushion in the bank. I have so, so much privilege, and could so easily use it to just “stay out of politics”.

But on very real, personal, ethical and moral grounds, I cannot and will not do that. I know far too many people, many of whom are very close to me, who do not have the privileges I do, and who stand to be — or already are — in very real, present danger because of where our country stands right now. They have no option to “stay out of politics”. For them, “politics” isn’t some esoteric theoretical concept to be debated in classrooms or over coffee (or booze) and cigarettes in the wee hours of the morning, but a very real, very present, life-or-death situation.

Women, minorities, the non-Christian religious or non-religious, poor people, people with medical issues, people whose sexuality or gender identities and expressions fall somewhere other than cisgender and straight, and various combinations of those identities and more. I have many friends and loved ones that fall into those groups, who do not have the option to choose to “stay out of politics”, and for me to do so would be callous, uncaring, and cruel.

So, yes. I’m going to continue to post the links, articles, and occasional profane rants. Because it is far, far better for me to use the privilege I have to call attention to the concerns and plights of those who do not have the advantages that I do. As I do that, I have been and will continue to make an effort to quiet my own voice in favor of amplifying the voices of those who are oppressed. Of linking to those who speak from a place of personal knowledge about experiences I have never and in many cases can never experience. Of recognizing when I need to listen, rather than speaking out about things I can never truly understand. Of doing my best to call out my fellow straight/white/male/privileged people when they overstep their bounds, and listening and learning when I’m called out for overstepping mine.

Because this is what needs to be done. Not just to ease my conscience, but to do what I can to let those people in my life who are struggling know that they’re not alone, that we haven’t abandoned them entirely, even if it so often seems like it. Because I believe that we can be better than we seem to be right now. Because I grew up on Star Trek and its vision of an optimistic future, and that’s the future I want to live in, and to do that, we have to work towards it.

And we can’t do that and “stay out of politics”.

(Originally prompted by the embedded photo when seen on Facebook, posted to Facebook, and then re-posted here. Very minor apologies to those who are seeing this twice.)

Published by Michael Hanscom

Enthusiastic ambivert. Geeky, liberal, friendly, curious, feminist ally; trying to be a good person. (he/him)