In having the opportunity to voice my opinion every other week on matters relating to politics, I know I’m incredibly privileged. As Canadians, we’re similarly fortunate enough to have voices in democracy and vote for our leaders.
Refusing to engage or being disinterested in politics is a very privileged position to have in society and in my opinion, being politically complacent is a huge problem and something we need to talk about more.
So let’s talk about complacency — more specifically complacency in politics, why it happens, how it happens and why it’s such a problem today.
Since I can remember, there’s always been a ringing in my ear when I talk to people about my political views and leanings. I think we can all remember a time where we were told, “it’s impolite to talk to people about their political and religious views”.
But that seems so backwards to me. Isn’t the whole point of politics and religion to talk, share and discuss them with others to gain understanding and awareness?
I mean, really, do you know what’s more impolite? Not talking about politics. Not talking about the impacts of Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulting countless women or the problems with Trump’s twice-failed Obamacare repeal and how it completely disregards people living with pre-existing conditions.
I can honestly say that while in high school, I was always interested in politics, but it wasn’t until university that I truly started to form my own beliefs and opinions on a lot of issues.
I wasn’t exposed to politics, at least not real and relevant politics, and no one really talked about it.
Why is that?
Policies that are passed every day in the House of Commons affect present and future Canadian citizens. Learning about politics shouldn’t just be in the form of a one-time civics course in high school; it should be part of our daily conversations as students beginning to establish ourselves in society.
While there’s definitely a problem with people being politically complacent, there is someone who’s started getting political — Jimmy Kimmel.
By using his influential name and television spot to inform viewers across the world about the intricacies and nuances of political decision-making, Kimmel is doing something amazing. Is he covering every issue? No, of course not. But to have celebrities and late-night talk show hosts discuss and break down very serious policies is a big step.
Remember when Sean Spicer was at the Emmys a few weeks ago? Every celebrity who took a picture with him or laughed at his jokes was, in my opinion, politically complacent.
These are people who talk a big game about politics. Some even use their time to express their dissatisfaction with the current White House administration. But laughing and taking selfies with Sean Spicer totally validates the Emmys decision to bring him in the first place.
It’s hypocritical, and people sitting in those very privileged seats should’ve used that chance to speak out immediately about how problematic his presence was.
All this being said, engaging in politics doesn’t have to be time-consuming. It doesn’t have to be hard. If you’re lucky, politics can be as simple as reading a few news articles every week, listening to a podcast or taking three minutes to scroll through Twitter as opposed to going on the Instagram explore feed to see the same Homecoming pictures one more time.
Now, I say ‘if you’re lucky’ for a reason. At the beginning of this article, I talked about privilege. Political complacency is a form of privilege. If you’re not engaging in politics, it could be because you simply don’t think you need to be, or that it doesn’t affect you.
It’s important to remember there are people who have no other option but to fight for their life and their rights. For them, that means being constantly engaged in politics.
People of colour who aren’t given the same opportunities as white people, the Dreamers (re: DACA) in the United States who could be kicked out of the only country they know any day, women who don’t feel like they get to choose what they do with their bodies, trans people whose legal protections are rolled back more and more every day.
The list is long and the issues are deeply embedded within our society.
If you’re privileged enough to be politically complacent, don’t be. Start educating yourself, take up a cause that’s important to you and fight as hard as you can for what you believe in.
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