In 2015, I wrote: “I was recently told that I’m too political, which is ironic given how strong the temptation always is to disengage from politics. However, doing so might be as dangerously unwise as trying to eliminate politics altogether. That said, the present political gulf seems to be widening to that point where it becomes unbridgeable, destroying friendships, dividing families, and ruining nations.” Unfortunately, the situation has only grown worse.
Despite my own confidence in language and the written word, there is apparently nothing that I can write or say that is going to change anyone’s mind … or even sway perceptions away from preconceived positions. Instead, everywhere I look, the political vitriol seems to be increasing. There is less and less interest in dialog or discussion—and the few who do call for reasoned discourse with political opponents are often ostracized or attacked by their own factions. The “other side” has simply become evil … something that must be destroyed by any means necessary.
The implications are unsettling. There are only two ways to resolve any dispute. We can reason with each other, relying on rational conversations to discover mutual benefit … or we can apply force, whether outright violence or mere coercion. In the current political climate, the opportunity for the former option appears to be diminishing rapidly. Differences of opinion have become existential threats … as it were.
Much of my own political motivation has been about avoiding violent conflict. We live in historically exceptional times, so the conflicts shaping up around the world threaten to be catastrophic beyond any previous experience. Furthermore, violent revolutions rarely accomplish whatever noble goals their leaders may espouse, even when they succeed from a military standpoint.
Violence is inherent in current political systems. It may be veiled or controlled, but it is always there, lurking within governments, no matter whether they are corrupt or benevolent. How can I change that fact? How can any one of us?
In truth, I think there are very few who want to change this situation. State power is seductive. The temptation to apply force when you have overwhelming amounts of it at your disposal is undeniably strong. Just a little coercion here or a little violence there … Couldn’t that solve any perceived ill? Even generally non-violent people aren’t willing to give up that option … especially when they can exercise it by proxy.
In light of this, violent conflict seems inevitable. If nothing I can do will change any of it, then why subject myself to the anguish and frustration of political vitriol?
… This piece has been in the hopper for over a year now. Obviously and unfortunately, some of my primary worry has come to pass. Cities have burned, and good people are alarmed as we approach another election in the supposedly United States. This piece was supposed to announce my political silence …
I didn’t publish it … until now … which is probably good, because I failed in my goal to be silent. I had to speak out at a certain time and place … and we’ll say that it didn’t go well.
Properly chagrined, I will admit that there is only one socially acceptable choice in the upcoming American election …