Wednesday, December 14, 2005

On Being Oblivious to Politics

David Michael Green, Professor of Political Science at Hofstra University, has written an essay that ought to be required reading for everyone under thirty-five (Green also addressed his essay to those over thirty-five, but I'm afraid most of them still prefer watching Fox News and the 700 Club to surfing the internet). Green's essay is entitled, "It's your life: An Open Letter to Young (and Less Young) Americans." Here's a quote:

Within the broad constraints dictated by nature, humans choose their own destinies, and they do so through the mechanism of politics.

No one can be blamed for sometimes seeing politics as a slimy affair (though it is occasionally quite noble). But everyone should be blamed for ignoring politics and assuming that their lives and society's welfare will be unaffected. Obliviousness is no excuse.

The ancient Greeks had a name for the totally private person, the person uninvolved in the politics of their time. We use the word a bit differently now, but perhaps we should reconsider. Arguably, the Greeks had it right when they described someone who stood by and watched politics happen to them as an "idiot".

It's your life. Will you stand by while others screw it up?

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