I’m retiring from politics. I’d managed to avoid engaging in the political quagmire for months on end, largely because I publicly pledged to do so after the media and politicians created an extremely volatile, self-fulfilling prophecy of racial discord, hatred, distrust, and violence, all in the name of advertising clicks and other ulterior motives. I knew dipping a toe in that toxic cesspool would be sheer masochism. Anything you say about politics, any position you take, is going to be controversial and make you a target of hatred, even if you are resisting extremism or trying to bridge the gap between binary belief systems. In today’s political climate, when you advocate, root for, oppose, or resist whichever political position, or candidate, you become a front-line grunt fighting in the culture war, rushing headlong into the roaring slaughter.

But you must participate! It’s your civic duty! You must vote! White silence equals violence! You are either with us or against us! All art is political! If you are not political, you are supporting the status quo! All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent! And yet, if the tyrants themselves stayed home, there would be no tyranny. You only want people to get out and vote if they are going to vote for your candidate. What if there was a war and nobody came?

Recently, I succumbed to anger and indignation at the outrageous hypocrisy, forehead-slapping-worthy inanity, and gratuitous violence and destruction that are the tragicomedy of American politics. I’d say the dominant emotion was anger. I went to sleep angry, and I woke up angry.

I vented my spleen in a couple long posts about how we’ve given up on truth in favor of narratives, and how this is not the time to crush our political adversaries. I spent an entire day, and late into the night, crafting that last one, with edits the following day. And that means I didn’t do art, or exercise, and otherwise derailed my routine. Maybe it did some good to combat the narrative. Maybe it was a waste of time.

I noticed what it did to me, and how it made me feel. Suddenly I was in the fray, fighting in the international political culture wars. It was doing more immediate damage to me than any good I could hope to achieve. I knew this already, and it’s why I didn’t engage in the voting season, which is the season of anxiety. But here I was reminded again, because of the stark contrast to my general mental and physical state before I chose to put myself on the battle field. Politics are toxic shit. Or is that, “politics is toxic shit”? Ah, you say, “his politics are toxic shit” but “politics is toxic shit”. In that case it’s grammatically correct to say, “Politics is a shit sandwich”.

I didn’t do the art, just added the text.

If I don’t write about politics, than it has much less of a deleterious effect on me, because I don’t feel as compelled to research it, understand it, get all my facts right, and I’m not busy honing interior dialogues in my head. I’m not waking up in the morning with a realization I need to type up.

I had altercations with family members who strongly support one end of the political spectrum, or are at least fervently against the other. I shut down someone who made a comment on my blog that I found highly offensive. I’d have been better off playing computer games.

We’ve reached a fever point of competing, one-sided narratives, so that any divergence from allegiance to this or that set of conclusions can pit you against your neighbor, or family members. This is partly due to the wild accusations, exaggeration, and the most inflammatory adjectives used to demonize the opposing elite politicians jockeying for a seat at the table of power and influence. If people demonstrate and break windows for your team, they are exhibiting unrest. If the other side does it, it’s domestic terror!

We are meant to take it onboard as our own life and death struggle which elite politician in the ruling class will be crowned king or queen of the prom. That would be more absurd, if the media and politicians hadn’t used the country as a toy, fomenting hatred out of thin air, in order to conquer political territory and claim the bounty. If nobody took the bait, most the problems that make it onto our dinner plate would vanish.

Even this post is political, because people will obviously insist that whichever is their political or ideological opponent really is all that horrible, that there’s no exaggeration, that there aren’t words strong enough to convey the horror! They might say that the media and politicians didn’t create the problems: it may have inflamed them a bit, but surely they didn’t manufacture them out of thin air. They may insist it’s my duty to fight for their cause, or I’m part of the problem.

2021 is starting off even worse than 2020. But part of what made last year suck so hard was internalizing the conflicts, getting angry about this or that idiotic behavior, worrying, debating, and creating stress. In order to do my best to salvage this year, and not have a repeat, I’m going to try not to post anything about politics. I did manage that for months on end last year — and it was a relief — so I know it’s possible. It also means not making comments on other people’s blogs, or YouTube videos, and not responding when family members share their political views, or the political news they think is urgent.

If you insist I fight for a cause, and that I must be political and take a side, than consider my silence my fighting technique, and my staying out of politics my cause. Go tell a Buddhist monk that silence equals violence. Anyone whose managed a few minutes of decent meditation– I’ve got at least 5 under my belt — knows that real silence is an achievement in itself, and has its own broad, radiant, effusive power. And you can always just be glad I’m not fighting on the other team.

I’m afraid the cadres will have to go to war without me. I’m going AWOL.

Ant Man Goes AWOL, by me.

~ Ends

29 replies on “Runaway Rant: Participating in politics is inviting war into your life.

    1. Thanks, Barry. Not only is participating in politics diving into the toxic pool of the culture wars, I’m afraid it’s no longer safe. Our “democracy” has become a “hypocrisy” where free speech is no longer protected, or even valued, and there are severe punishments for those who disagree with the party.

      As someone who lived in China for nearly 5 years, I’m afraid America is becoming more like China than the other way around.

      Other people say everything I have to say about politics, and have much larger venues. Anything I say about politics is second hand. When it comes to art, that’s where my individuality shines, so I need to protect my own voice, and cultivate my own garden in peace.

      But I will still do rants, just not about elections, and only obliquely about the master narrative that’s being crammed down our throats.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. “To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history based not only on cruelty but also on compassion, sacrifice, courage and kindness.

    What we choose to emphasise in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something.

    If we remember those times and places where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least, the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.”

    ~Roshi Joan Halifax PhD

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yap. Not only is engaging in politics unhealthy for the mind and spirit, it’s no longer safe. Democracy disappeared. We now live in a hypocrisy. So, I need not even bother with the world’s problems, or agonizing stupidity, if it doesn’t land directly on my doorstep. Living overseas, the election debacle, the protests against highly questionable integrity of the election, or the months of mostly peaceful attacks on western civilization need not have affected me in the slightest.

      If the the US of H (for hypocrisy) persecutes rather than values real diversity of thought or opinion, that I can merely watch it face-plant with amusement from afar.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dear Eric,
        There is no question that democracy has been severely fractured and is in a fragile state. However, it is still here. We can overcome this if we are open-minded if we stick together and stick to the truth, fairness, and justice. I love the piece you wrote and how honest and observant you are. I want to ask you not to give up on politics… as politics influence our lives.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks for reading and commenting. And thanks for your concern. But if I were equally concerned about your welfare, I would council you to do as I have done, which is to turn off the news altogether.

          Oddly, you will discover if you look, your political enemies are also devoted to truth, fairness, and justice.

          I would hazard a guess that you consider the people who broke into the capitol building among the greatest threat our democracy faces. Why did they do it? They honestly believed that there was foul play in the swing states, and enough to tilt the vote to the other candidate. Their demand was to look at the evidence before sanctifying the electoral college. They believed they were doing it to save the democracy, to be fair, and for justice. Nobody thinks they are on the side of the bad.

          Both sides of partisan politics manipulate the population into supporting them by appealing to their sense of truth, fairness, and justice, and both sides lie and distort for their own corrupt ends. Truth, justice, and fairness is for the underclass. The ruling elite are above the law, and play by a different set of rules. They enjoy a lifestyle of wealth, power, and privilege that makes the rest of us at best surfs and peasants in comparison. They are the nobility, the aristocrats, and we are the lumpen proletariat. Their concern is to maintain their elevated status and lifestyle, which is dependent upon a subservient, docile, under-educated, and permanent underclass. Politics is the vehicle by which they manipulate and control our beliefs in their own selfish, self-interest.

          Politics and the news are responsible for all the protests last year, “peaceful” or otherwise, up to and including the rush at the capitol. They were all the result of sensationalist news stories carefully crafted to produce the most outrage, and hence the most clicks and ad revenue. The news doesn’t just report the awful threats we must face, it produces them out of thin air.

          It makes us angry, and it makes us hate our neighbors, all in the name of love, and fighting hate.

          It’s poison, and it causes cancer. What’s more, it’s brainwashing.

          In the time you spent following everything related to the last election cycle, you could have read the complete plays of Shakespeare (and gained a deeper understanding of politics, for that matter), or taught yourself to sing or play a musical instrument. At the end you would be a better person. Ask yourself how politics has improved you and your life. I say it undermines your own path, your own direction, and your own internal compass. It enlists and ensnares you, as a grunt, into a war for the benefit of the power elite only. You will get this package of table scraps, or that one.

          If I am going to die a peasant, I’ll be my own bird. I’m not going to sacrifice myself for the greater good of the imbecile king.

          Like

    1. That’s my general rule as well. And there’s really a lot of opportunity for that, since the art world was taken over by politics more than a decade ago. Since my divorce with the art world, though, I’ve been commenting less on that as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Take a break from it and make a deal with yourself to live your best life. Unleash your creativity with your art, forget the politics, especially the private companies that are taking over our world. I am sure you saw all documentaries on Amazon, FB etc…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. being old, as I am, Ive seen big change. When I was twenty and bumming around Europe you could actually ignore the world. I would find a week old Paris Harold Tribune and devour it. Then It wasn’t the breathless “everything is a crisis” crap we experience now. I know this affects brains, reality models, mine and billions of others in the “developed” world. Not for the better, very much for the worse. We do not live in “the” world, each of us live in “our” world. In Ecuador where I wintered until recently I remember being reminded of this change. A young tourist was hanging out at my watering hole on the square. She wasn’t there getting to know other cultures. She was there to use the wi fi and talk to her mother THREE hours every day! At her age, in Malaga in the 60’s, I remember having to schedule a call to the states days ahead. For too much money I’d get a few minutes to tell the family I was still OK. That was every couple of months. This sheet does affect minds, don’t imagine it doesn’t. Good luck….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice observations. Well, the observing part, not what is observed.

      My first year living in China my only contact with the Western world was an occasional email, which I had to do from very unpleasant internet cafes. I’d send out a group email, and read the responses a week or so later. Gradually, I wrote less and less. Without internet, or a TV station that wasn’t in Chinese, I knew virtually nothing of what was going on in politics, or even outside of the little city I lived in.

      It was one of the best years of my life.

      Like

    1. There’s really a lot of truth to that. Now with the massive censorship campaign, they more then ever control the narrative, and that’s a really big part of politics. Meanwhile, however, it appears the war machine has been dusted off and kick-started, and the liberals of big tech can do nothing to stop it. Apparently, it’s possible to get the worse of both worlds.

      America appears to be “kinder and gentler” by applying increasingly authoritarian measures to insure “equity” while at the same time blithely planning to exercise the worst of its classic brute global force. We may start another war, depose another leader, but, but we will have made a highly vocal attempt at home to stamp out the presumed socially backwards behavior and beliefs of the deplorable, majority, powerless, working class.

      Despite the great claims to end the last vestiges of ephemeral “white supremacy” by the administration, the old-school real villains of the military industrial complex, big banks, and multinational corporations are just getting stronger. The rich continue to get richer, and the poor poorer.

      I remain mildly optimistic that there’s some sort of benevolent plan with at least a few good objects on the menu. There are truths that are not allowed to be spoken, and democracy has quietly been swept under the rug by the giants of big tech and the liberal establishment for a greater good. I’m hoping the genius tech giants have a clue what they are doing. And at least we still have some transparency and some ability to influence things as compared to the CCP, who are untouchable.

      Like

  4. I’m painfully familiar with this rabbit hole. It is toxic and all consuming. I’m now using art as a distraction. In a similar that keeping my hands busy helped me to quite smoking many years ago. When I get the urge glimpse at politics, I quickly start sketching instead! My head feels better already.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I know exactly what you mean. I’m so interested in politics and I love consuming different political content but I hardly ever engage because I’m so scared of this culture that has been created. I’m worried if I express my opinion I will have got a fact wrong and instead of correcting me, people will attack me. I know this is not how I should live but it is such a toxic rabbit hole to get sucked into debating with people who are debating to let off anger, not debating to express and learn more about a topic. For now I’m going to stick to discussing politics with those directly around me and reading content instead.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Like many things in life, your outlook is generally what you make it. I used to get upset about politics, but I never really spoke out about it. It was always someone else’s problem. I recently started my blog as a way of not only getting some of those things off my chest, but also to try to start showing that there is another way to move our society forward than just trying to pull the other side down. I recognize my own bias, but I make every effort to be honest about that and at least try to respect the other side even while I am disagreeing with them. If you can’t ignore the vitriol, then certainly you should back off, but I would hope that we can all find a way to ignore the ignorance of others and continue to push our own message in a thoughtful and productive way. Like many things in politics, when enough people start to do something, the political climate shifts and the new way takes over. But change has to start small, and it means that those of us at the beginning have to persevere through the garbage.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup. That’s precisely what I personally am not going to do anymore, or at least don’t plan to.

      In fact, I’ve gone even further than just not writing about politics any more: since a couple days ago, I’ve stopped watching or reading the news. Apparently one can just turn it off, and that’s that. The problem disappears.

      Imagine people are playing a game of Monopoly, there are disagreements about the rules, some people are cheating, some people have already bought up the Boardwalk and Park Place, and others are are missing a turn because they are in jail. I can try to mediate and influence the outcome of the game. Or, I can go make art instead.

      Like

      1. That’s the great thing about freedom. It allows us to do what we think we should be doing. Unfortunately, the more people who decide to go off and do something else and stop at least voicing their opinion about things, the more those people who want to change the world in their own image are able to impose their will on us. I’m not saying you shouldn’t go make art, nor am I criticizing you for not wanting to continue making your case. I certainly don’t want to argue with anyone or have to hear all the ridiculous nonsense on our politics today. All I’m saying is that one less person making an argument is one more chance for those with a desire for power to advance their agenda, regardless of which side it is.

        Like

        1. That’s one way of looking at it. I see what you’re saying, and I don’t want to discourage you from making your arguments for what you believe in. I’ve certainly made a lot of political posts in the past, and some very ambitious ones concerning the impact of today’s political climate on the art world.

          Perhaps I’ve said what I have to say. I’ve written several articles about censorship, and I find myself repeating my same argument with new cases. So, I’m spinning my wheels on politics, as the issues are not really new. We had “identity politics” a quarter century ago when I was in grad school. Israel and Palestine were at each other’s throats. Russia was the bad guy. Some things have metastasized into a more cancerous strain, but it’s the same general arguments. The notion of “white privilege”, for example, goes back to at least 1989, when Peggy McIntosh wrote, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”. People who are “woke” now, must have been in a coma for the last 30 years. They are waking up into an ideological belief system that was a little crusty before they were born.

          When I write about politics, the people who generally agree with me are pleased, and those that don’t are not interested, and certainly not persuaded. We no longer defer to the greater argument. That idea is gone. Reason and objectivity are considered the enemy in some circles, and this comes out of Postmodern philosophy, combined with radical politics. The conclusions come first, and no matter how good your argument, if you have the wrong conclusion, well, you are wrong anyway because this or that untouchable historical figure has said otherwise. Worse, some convenient villain has the same conclusion that you do. You are guilty by association, and your argument, no matter how sensible or how strong is only evidence of your crime of complicity.

          We have reached a point where you are not allowed to say the truth on a growing number of topics, and if you do, and you matter enough, you will be purged. My blog that you are commenting on was blacklisted for ad revenue, the result being that ads would still be plastered on my posts, but I would never receive any money [I had to pay to have them removed]. The terms of agreement stipulate that no reason need be given, and my blog can be deleted at any point with or without a reason. If I speak out on political issues now, I risk losing any platform for sharing my art.

          Let’s just imagine that you and I share the same political opinions, which I doubt. We might have some serious overlap, but where we don’t agree, I doubt I could ever persuade you to think otherwise. But let’s just say we did agree, because we are both open-minded, reasonable, committed to not shying away from reality, and doing what is right. In such a case, does the world need me to make the same arguments?

          But let me give you another position altogether. By not consuming news, and not talking about it, I am also not supporting it, not clicking and creating ad revenue. News has become a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom – because outrage sells – and one more person not consuming it is one less body fueling the conflagration. Consider that all the riots of the past year, including the CHAZ and the break-in at the capitol, arose because of people consuming sensationalist news items.

          There have been studies, and it’s now clear that the news that sells the best is that which outrages the most, and the hottest selling item is race war. My political articles have tried to reel in the extremes, but surely to no avail, except to help clarify ideas among those who already agree with me. By participating in the news cycle, I am putting myself on the battlefield, including of the most vicious and violent ideological conflict. By turning off the news, I contribute nothing to the rage, and I also free myself from it’s toxicity.

          And there’s more. Who is entitled to try to change or direct society? Have you had a good look at the mug shots of the Antifa crowd in Portland? Do those look like role models who have mastered their own lives to such a degree that they have the answers of how to best structure their own lives? Are they success stories we should emulate? If you can’t fix your life, and be a very positive role model; if you have bad habits, or weaknesses, how can you presume to tell anyone else how to manage their existence? For most people, the idea of fixing their own lives before fixing anyone else’s would be very solid and appropriate advice.

          These days I’m about getting things done, and no excuses. When I am some perfected, radiant being, and successful artist, then I can advise other people how to live their lives and what to believe. Until such a time, I have more pressing work to do on myself, and that has an immediate impact on the people around me. My girlfriend and I are positive influences on each other, for example. And turning off the news can be a self-empowering move that makes an individual stronger. I don’t need to know what society is doing or obsessing on in order to be whole myself. There is much more rich material I could be putting in my brain. I’ve still not gotten to reading Dante’s “Inferno”.

          Lastly, politics pisses me off. And the result of looking at it is I am pissed off for at least several minutes every day. And that cultivates anger within me, and whittles away my ability to counter anger should it arise in some other situation in my immediate life. If I am already angry, and I bump into someone on the street, it’s going to be even worse.

          You can consider my rejecting the news, politics, and the ideologies it represents as a political move. If more people did it, there would be less people cracking each other’s skulls open, literally or figuratively. I’m saying I don’t need it, and it’s beneath me. If I took all the time I’ve spent this election cycle on the news, and had read classic literature instead, not only would I be smarter and have a richer life in the very present, I would know more about politics on a deeper and broader level. The news is empty calories for the mind, and it forces us to consume it anyway by persuading us that to not do so is to not be a part of the larger world, that we are shirking our responsibility, that we don’t know what is going on, and that we don’t belong. Well, I don’t want to belong to it. I’m my own man.

          Like

  7. In looking back at history, politics is pretty much the same game as it has always been. (And the point you made when you said “The notion of “white privilege”, for example, goes back to at least 1989” is a point made by many others – by the time these ideas become ‘woke’, the bulk of the change has already happened in society.)

    What has changed is the ability to watch the latest trend play out instantaneously AND for it to be reported, primarily, with almost malicious bias. The message is no longer just what someone says, it is what the media says the someone said.

    Fortunately there are a number of pundits who have chosen to counter this by encouraging dialogue and helping people find a reason to move to the middle ground. As Matthew McConaughey so capably tells it, the middle of the road is not a yellow line with squashed armadillos on it (he’s a Texan) – the middle is a yellow line with the armadillos running around freely because the two ‘lanes’ have moved way over into the ditches on either side.

    Encouraging and helping to promote this middle ground – that is what I view as a role for any blogger who sees all the positives that are being overwhelmed by the negatives.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m with you on that middle ground, Margy. I’ve said it myself in my own way. I compare the extremes to the shallow banks of a river, and invite people to swim out to the deeper and more treacherous current in the middle. I also say that it’s not this or that side of a coin, but the whole coin spinning.

      It’s not just a wishy-washy, sitting on the fence, milquetoast, non-committal position. To genuinely be in the middle ground, one needs to not just forsake the easy extremes, but have an understanding that encompasses both on some meaningful level.

      When I do talk about politics, I’ve often said my goal was to reel in the extremes, though in recent times, especially as regards art, it’s the radical left that has been the furthest out on the edge, doing the most censoring and lording itself over art.

      But as of the moment, I’ve not consumed any news for 3 weeks. In that time I’ve started a YouTube art channel and uploaded my first video. I did watch a 6-part documentary about politics by Adam Curtis, so am still interested in it as a topic, and want to be informed, but I am not longer fighting in its battles, nor following the play by play. I have much better things to put in my head, and bring out of it.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. After reading two of your posts, I’m pretty sure that your opinions and points of view are to my benefit. I love that I agree with some of your points and disagree is some of them. I love that I’m able to create a dialogue between myself and what you wrote.

    I find this post in particular relatable and invigorating. In my country, the Philippines, the binary of beliefs is so concrete, so overwhelmingly, sickeningly binary that I have observed it is our physical bodies themselves that do the reaction, for survival itself. There is no more need for prolonged thinking. It’s instinctive, subconscious. If you can’t take the politics, your body instinctively withdraws and distances itself. If somehow it can fight, the body joins the battle. My body, for my survival and well-being has chosen to keep itself away from all of this. There are people who thrive in this kind of environment. I have to accept that. But they also need to accept the fact that there are people such as myself who have their own set of politics.

    It’s like what you said in your other article. If you change ‘reality’ to ‘nature’ it makes the understanding clearer. I often change ‘Politics’ to ‘Beliefs’ that someone forcing their beliefs on my, I think, is reason enough to throw rotten eggs to their cars.

    Secondly, and frustratingly, I think that the definition of Politics has grown overtime and yet people still foolishly only link it to the current politicians (who change every few years) and their followers. As someone who is on the very borders of the marginalized, the marginalized of the marginalized, my set of beliefs are so only to my own, or to a very few, that I just cannot generally condone to what other people preach.

    Thank you very much for posting this. I followed you and hope to read more of your posts 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Laran:

      Yes, I think you are right that the physical body is affected by engaging in politics. How could it be otherwise? People have assaulted and killed their perceived political adversaries in the streets in America over what they saw on the news and in social media. And, unbeknownst to them, because news stories that outrage get the most clicks, shares, and thus advertising revenue, they are in essence being manipulated into angry outbursts in order to accrue profits to media giants.

      The algorithms that filter suggestions and search results on Google, Facebook, and YouTube have inadvertently served to divide and radicalize people by appealing to their baser instincts (such as tribalism) in order to secure their continued attention. People are corralled into “confirmation bias echo chambers” that fortify their biases and prejudices rather than foster a deeper understanding and give the broader picture. It turns out that guiding what people see on the internet is an extremely powerful social tool and can be used to socially engineer populations. And this is being done for just one reason, which is not to improve people’s lives or help them in any way, but only to filter money up to the already astronomically wealthy owners of the media giants.

      So, when one consumes “news” one is being manipulated into anger, hatred, tribalism, and an us-versus-them mentality. An enemy appears to be a necessary ingredient in the successful news product. In short, the news creates enemies out of thin air in a self-fulfilling prophecy of anger and hatred, because that’s what sells.

      Turning off the news is refusing to be manipulated and socially engineered. It is, if people insist one be politics, a political move. It’s walking away from a toxic and addictive formula that thrives on conflict. It’s a movement towards peace and reconciliation, and even love rather than hatred.

      I have a related idea about the body I’ve been thinking about for a while. I don’t think our bodies are ours to do whatever we want with necessarily. Rather, they are like pets that are entrusted to us to take care of. One of our first responsibilities is to take care of the animal body that has been granted to us. If people are not kind to their own body, how are they going to be kind to the rest of the world? It’s an idea I’m working on. Anyway, it relates to your comment about the effect of the news on the body. It’s not good for it.

      Thanks for reading my blog and sharing your thoughts!

      Cheers,

      Eric Wayne

      Like

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