I have been fortunate enough to spend my life in two countries - India and USA. One common thing I am observing at both places, is the heat in politics.
The politics and political debates are getting very hot. Almost boiling point hot.
What especially amuses me is the intensity of politics of anything without any interest in that very thing.
More than a year back I was working with an NGO, raising money for building small check dams in Northwest Maharashtra. Water was a very serious problem in that area. People were badly suffering. This NGO was trying to harvest rainwater with check dams and I was raising funds for them.
In course of the same, I came across a person. Let's call him Mr. X.
Mr. X is doing very well financially. I tried to talk him into donating. He gave a hundred excuses why he does not want to donate, all while standing and leaning over his Rs. 15 lakh car. He argued that NGOs are not the best way to do things. He wondered if the check dams will make any difference. He had 100 reasons not to donate, mostly based on complete lack of knowledge. Any attempts to present more facts and figures and to engage him proved futile. He did not donate a single rupee.
His reasoning: "That's not my job".
Then a few days later, demonetization by Modi government hit. (I personally don't agree demonetization was good idea. But that is different topic altogether.) I met Mr. X again and he lectured me for an hour about the inconvenience faced by people who had to stand in ATM lines.
Just a few weeks back, the inconvenience of people suffering without water did not bother him at all. But now, inconvenience of people standing in ATM line for cash bothered him immensely.
This is what consistently keeps me confused. People criticizing Donald Trump for walking out Paris agreement (what he did was a huge mistake, BTW) have often not planted a tree in their life. People thumping their chest about being patriotic have never joined Army or won't let their children join either.
I can go on and on. People passionately attack government for not taking the right side never take that side in their entire life. People have no plan to engage in anything other than a hot political debate. No motivation to do anything meaningful.
You don't have to leave your job and devote your life to a cause to qualify for that much passion in politics. But if you care, show it. Show it in other ways that just hot debates sitting in cushioned chairs sipping coffee. Show it in a way that involves sacrifice, even a small one. Show it in a way that does not get you any brownie points with friends, family, colleagues. Show it in a way that does not boost your pride, in a way that does decorate your self-image.
Otherwise just accept that you like politics, but it's not really about making any meaningful difference. You just like it as soap opera. You just like it as your sports team. You are invested in it emotionally because it gives you the emotions you crave. A sense of validation, ,a sense of importance , an ego massage, a sense of belonging a tribe or a group, a sense of camaraderie, a soothing balm to your fears, a happy ending to fairy tale in your head. May be this is what you are looking for. A quick and easy relief from your own inner demons, sort of like smoking, emotional smoking.
Admit that this is it. Don't claim you are passionate about environment if the only time you think about environment is when the government announces to cut down a forest.
Let's take a bit of philosophical detour. Let me paint you an extreme what if scenario.
What if your wildest dreams came true? What if the political leader you hate were to die a horrible painful death. And what if the party you dislike were to suffer complete rout in next election and cease to exist? Do you think you will be happy? How much happy? For how long?
You will find that ultimate success will probably result in enormous disillusionment. You will have your emotional orgasm, your victory lap. Then you might be happy for a day, then somewhat happy for next day, then you will be miserable the third day.
A large number of dysfunctions that created the monster-you-hated will remain in place. Quite likely replaced by the worse monsters.
What if you could take a step down your high horse? What if you started working alongside people you dislike. What if you were to engage the other side in a constructive way?
You will find that they are just humans. Once you humanize them, you can empathize with them. You will realize that under different circumstances and a different stream of personal experiences, you could be them and they could be you. You may not like them. But you will understand where they are coming from. Developing positive relationships with negative people is challenging but possible.
So if the political debate is getting too heated, stop it and go plant a tree together. Because pure hot political debate is nothing more than a fart from mouth.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinion of the author. The facts and opinions in this article do not reflect the views of Democracy News Live (DNL) and DNL does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)