When Good People Do Nothing

Warning: This post is about politics. 

politics

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there has been A LOT of political talk lately. In the last few months, it seems to me that all types of people have started to take an interest in our country’s upcoming election. Or am I the only person out there whose Facebook feed has been blowing up? I understand I am relatively young and have only been able to vote in three elections, but I can’t ever remember seeing this kind of response to our political climate. People are passionate. They are confused. And some are rightfully angry. But as I have seen the conversation surrounding politics in this country continue to grow louder, I can’t help but ask one burning question: where has all of this been?

Until recently, no one wanted to talk politics. In my experience, it was always one of the key things “polite” people just don’t discuss. I can’t tell you how many times I have stood as witness to a situation where one person in a group begins to journey down the road of political discussion and they are almost always silenced or diverted off course. Nobody ever seemed to care (or know) about what was going on and politics was seen as the quickest way to ruin most jovial social situations. Which, truthfully, isn’t completely incorrect. I know I have been guilty about worrying whether or not a heated conversation would “bring a party down”. Well, guess what, folks…the party is down. It is way down. And I can’t help but notice that all of my polite, level-headed friends who “never talk politics” are in a state of confusion. And honestly, I wish I could say I’m flabbergasted by our current situation, but the truth is that I can see how we may have gotten here. 18th-century Irish statesmen, Edmund Burke, spoke the famous words, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” And from my perspective, many good men and women have been uninvolved in our political process for some time. As I mentioned earlier, we have created a society where, in many circles, the “polite” or “nice” thing to do is to stay out of the political conversation. So many polite, nice people have done just that and now they are confused as to why they have lost their voice. I have been guilty of this, as well. I don’t tend to shy away from political discussion. I actually enjoy it as long as people aren’t being disrespectful. But there are times I DEFINITELY could have been more vocal on issues I care about such as women’s or LGBT rights, but… I didn’t want people not to like me. And that makes me part of the problem. Shame on me.

It has been suggested over and over again that our current political situation is an indictment of our society, and I would venture to say that is correct. I know I’m not the only one to experience asking a person I respect if they’d ever consider a run for office just to hear them say, “No. I can’t stand politics.” Can you imagine if every good, respectful person reacted this way to such a proposal? Too many wonderful, kind, bright, level-headed, peaceful people have remained silent and uninvolved for too long. Now we find ourselves in a position from which many are hoping and praying we can be delivered. And when they ask the question – what happened to American politics? I would suggest that part of the answer may just be that people on the polar ends of the political spectrum (who do still deserve a voice, by the way) started making decisions for everyone because they were the only ones left doing the talking. Their loud voices were heard by the power-hungry who began to slither their way into positions of influence. Good people didn’t care or want to be involved, so the corrupt took over. But it’s ok. The rest of us can still enjoy politely socializing  while feeling satisfied by the fact that even though our situation is tumultuous, at least people still like us.

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