Apolitical By Instinct
Like Henry David Thoreau, I have always wanted to adopt an apolitical view of life. But also like Thoreau, I have been forced to abandon this attitude when politics impinged on my personal life in strongly negative ways.
I think politics as practiced is a gutter profession, which tends to make me apolitical in order to avoid the stench. Thoreau felt that intelligence shouldn't be wasted on the trivia of political rumblings, that we should only be vaguely aware of politics at all, as we are virtually unaware of the workings of our digestive tracts until dyspepsia sets in.
But politics has a way of causing dyspepsia in our daily lives. Thoreau was jailed for refusing to pay a poll tax which robbed poor people of their right to vote. As much as he tried to emphasize how little effect the incarceration had on him, Thoreau couldn't resist taking a shot at the whole experience in his famous essay "Civil Disobedience."
My own personal life was nearly derailed more than once by political treachery when all I wanted to do was rise above the "din of government" (as Thoreau phrased it) and take a philosophical view of things.
Neil Young, my favorite American musician, was another instinctively apolitical person -- until Richard Nixon's hate-filled legacy caused the deaths of four young students at Kent State University. Young came out of his shell and wrote the angry song "Four Dead In Ohio."
Like Al Pacino's character in The Godfather II, we apolitical people try to stay out of politics, but it keeps pulling us back in.
Perhaps Thoreau had the best advice. If you encounter a petty injustice, let it go and chances are it will be corrected sooner or later without your help. We are born, after all, to enjoy life as it is and not to spend our whole lives fighting every injustice we stumble across.
But if the injustice requires your participation to harm other people, then use the full force of your life as a lever against it. And, as Thoreau pointed out, no one will fight this kind of injustice more than a person who has experienced something of it in his own personal life.
That's my only reason for paying any attention to politics when I know it goes against my grain.
"The earth was made round so we can't see too far down the road and know what is coming." -- Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa