Are You Political?
“I’m just not that political…” an acquaintance says, as I casually bring up a recent news story. Not political…how does this work exactly? After much thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that not being political is truly impossible. Are you a living, breathing human? Your very breaths are political. Are you educated at any level? Definitely some government there. Do you drink coffee? Buy clothing? Pay taxes or own property? Eat?
Whether it’s a conscious knowing or not, nearly every choice and move you make every single day is political. In everything you do, the government is involved. If this sounds terrifying to you, let it be even more reason to get involved.
When the entire world is moving at the pace of a hundred news stories before lunch, politics can get overwhelming. An election cycle can be especially tiring. The takedowns and back-and-forth jabs can leave you feeling jaded, aggravated, and – frankly – worried. Is this how a responsible adult vying to be leader of the free world should behave? Even worse, the more you indulge the circus, the harder it is to see things factually and level-headed. This is how Americans (and many other global citizens) find themselves divided, hovering further in the corners of their political party, ready to attack at the sound of an opponent’s intentionally triggering words.
Examining how and when and why the world got to this point requires much more than this essay. While it’s important to understand our country’s history in order to prevent us from repeating those same mistakes, it’s of the utmost importance that we act. That we do something, anything to change this behavior while we still have the chance. It may be hard to believe that one person can actually make a change in the world. The very idea may feel exhausting and impossible. But look further. Examine your basic, everyday habits. What are you doing all day long? What are you buying? Where are you spending your time? Whom are you speaking with? Feel power in knowing that all your waking breath is political. That you can fight for a change with your wallet. That you can liberate yourself from the day-to-day news cycle by being present in your community.
Start with a small issue – like a neighborhood community garden – and hear about the challenges affecting those who live around you as you plant tomatoes. Take it a step further and think about where those tomatoes originated. How the neighborhood procured them. The transportation you took to arrive at the garden. What the blistering sun feels like on your back as you plant. This is politics.
Or start big and join a march. Feel the energy of the crowd, the vibration of voices chanting in unison. Let yourself be empowered. Empowered by knowledge that even the steps you took to get wherever you are, are political. You’re awake. You’re aware. And just by understanding, you’re making a change.
Senior Writer Isabella Walker works as a consultant and Senior UX Writer for federal government projects in the Department of Defense and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. She previously served as the Digital Director for Illinois State Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza. Her freelance work has been published in Refinery29, The Everygirl, Chicago Social Magazine, and The Chicago Sun-Times’ Splash. In her spare time, she sits on UNICEF’s Next Generation Steering Committee board, travels, and practices yoga.