By: Michael D. Jacobsen
Staff writer at Fighting the Tyranny
Every time I turn on a computer and go online it seems that I see people posting about how trivial events generate the biggest reaction from people, while much bigger events seem to merit little to no response. People are having a tendency to not get upset over foreign policy, increases to our national debt, or the continued militarizing of our police forces. Yet the smaller things like what a celebrity writes on social media or the manner in which an athlete chooses to protest creates an enormous response. In the case of the latter example, people seem to have been more upset over how a person chose to protest more than what he was protesting about.
Think about that part, people were more outraged over the manner of protest, and were not really concerned about what the protest was about. It is a very telling point in how people view the problems in our world today. So, why do we seem more concerned with smaller problems and just ignore the larger ones?
Most people live ordinary lives. For some, they get up, have breakfast (sometimes), go to work, and come home. From there they might go out to eat, have a few beers with friends, or some just sit at home and watch TV and wait till the weekend to socialize. Others have to work two jobs just to make ends meet. They seldom have time to socialize and often look forward to the time when they can spare a night to be with friends. Others chose to spend their time between work and family and have dedicated themselves to that.
Regardless of the situation, most people are busy enough so that the thought of looking into larger problems is at the very least unattractive. With the pattern they have already established in their life it is very difficult for them to take the proper time to understand the subject. Most people feel that they are “too busy” to take time out of their lives to understand broader problems. While by and large, most of the broader problems do not affect their everyday lives. A foreign war might be terrible but if people are not involved with it directly, it is just an abstract issue to them. The national debt might be sky high, but a person may be content because their expenses are being met.
However, if something happens that interrupts their everyday lives, such as a TV show cancellation, or a change in the proceedings of their favorite sporting event this can cause great anxiety and even anger in a person. Most people are comfortable living their lives and having their routine unimpeded. It is the changes to their routine that have a much bigger (albeit temporary) impact on their lives. Imagine if somehow legislation was passed that canceled the Super Bowl? People would show up at the door of Congress with pitchforks. Yet a rise in the debt ceiling or a law allowing spying (as long as most people can’t detect it) and people just shrug and/or tune out that news as if it had no direct impact on their lives. The truth couldn’t be farther away.
Politics has become a dirty word to people and the reason being multi-fold but is rooted in the fact that we have been programmed to give that trust away blindly. We have been programmed to think that even if we did care, there is little we can do to change things. So how do we change the programmed response people have to politics and the political process?
The first step is to let people know that right or wrong, it is more important to at least have an opinion on it then to avoid it altogether. The way the media plays the right/left divide has done quite a bit to keep people uninterested in politics, as they are afraid to voice their opinion, lest they choose the wrong one. We need to stop attacking people for having an opinion that differs from ours, and while it is not easy it is important to do. People view their political beliefs as part of their identity. While we should discuss the need to try and bring about liberty-based change, if we attack someone they do not try to see your view but instead try to re-enforce their identity. If we really feel a person is wrong at times it is best to just state your case and move on to a different conversation.
The next issue to tackle is the idea that even if we care about politics there is nothing we can do to change it. This is actually the bigger issue as people who feel that they cannot change anything tend to tune it out altogether. I think the best way to approach this is to let people know that politics is (usually) a slow process. I have met many young people who get involved and do all they can for a year or two and then leave because they felt they accomplished little. Let me tell you firsthand if you have accomplished a little, that is actually a big accomplishment.
People need to understand you are not going to change the world overnight, or over a week, or a month. The immediate-results mentality is what burns people out of politics faster than anything else I have seen. While it is nice to see the fruit of your labor come to pass it does not happen in the way most people think that it will. The start is to bring politics back into the everyday conversation. In politics, time will tell. Just give it enough time.
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