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Political and religious apathy

October 16, 2009

Tomorrow (…or, I guess I should say, later today…), President Obama will be speaking at my university about community service and volunteerism. He was invited to the campus by President George Bush (41) regarding the Thousand Points of Light concept.

Isn’t this nice? Oh, the President is coming to our university!

Well…an organization on campus…the Young Conservatives of Texas…they are going to be doing something at this event. It might be peaceful and respectful protest. It might be something worse. This organization has in the past held an “anti-Obama carnival” where they posted pictures of Obama and encouraged people to throw eggs at the picture. Their argument: throw your nest egg at Obama to protest his socialist policies that will throw away your nest egg…or something like that.

So, I don’t know. I’m not psychic, but I can say that plenty of people here hope they don’t do anything extreme. It’s one thing if they make themselves look bad…but really, what they could do is make the entire school look bad.

The YCT is so sure that their position is justified…many of their members cannot understand why their club is viewed in such a negative light around campus…is it that the campus is too liberal? I mean, the YCT has already written off the Republicans as being utterly unconservative sellouts.

I dunno. I don’t even know why they bother. I know their answer: “Principles.” They have to stick by their principles no matter what…even if it makes them wildly unpopular. They have to speak out and refuse to acquiesce. OK, OK.

But why? Will it accomplish anything (other than raising their blood pressures and raising the rest of ours? Other than destroying reputation and credibility)? For whatever reason, I can’t see their actions as accomplish much of anything. I feel I must conclude politics is ineffective and ineffectual. Yes, I know that one guy will win and another guy will lose. One act will pass and another will fail. Federal and state and local laws will affect us…and all of these things have, in fact, big impacts on us.

But still…it seems that getting involved in the political process is a waste of time. It’s not helping you; it’s not helping me; it’s not helping anyone. Think of the stock market…investing has big impacts on us…and many think they can influence their results if only they can back certain stocks, sell other stocks…but isn’t it all a gamble?

With politics, I come to this conclusion that no matter which side — left or right, more government or less — it is all futile. It is all hopeless. Even when politicans try to sell you hope. So, expectations here are even more likely to be broken. I’d like it if someone could just say this is pessimistic…but I have a feeling it is simply realistic.

I still have political opinions (on a few issues). I still try to keep up with things. But I’m pretty disillusioned about the efficacy of the political process in it all. It’s just not all that worthwhile. If I want to improve my life, I don’t think about finding the right religion and adhering to its principles. Similarly, I don’t think about the right political party and right candidate and supporting him. Even if I think someone is a good guy, I have to realize that he most likely won’t do much, despite my desperate wanting to believe much else. He is not a hero. He is a politician.

…No…when I think about improving my life, I think about what I can do to change my actions…what I can do to monitor myself, my emotions, my reactions. What I can do to better relate to and with others. What I can do to improve my community…to set and reach goals for myself and my friends and family.

The thing that remains strange to me is…isn’t it strange that for me, these things seem mutually exclusive. It’s either politics (or religion) or making a difference with goals, lives, and livelihoods. While I am certain that for those who are religiously interested or politically enthusiastic, they view the two as congruent.

Still, I am left wondering if we must ignore “institutions” like politics, government, and religion, and simply live our lives. But how anti-society is this? After all, the crowning achievement of our advanced society are our institutions…our political systems, our religious systems, our economic systems, and so on. So if we eschew this for a simply, a-political life, are we eschewing and abandoning the modernity that has nurtured us? Am I, an aspring accountant, as disconnected from life and living as I believe a bishop or a congressman to be? I want to defend my position and say that accounting is important because it is the infrastructure for business as a societal institution…but what value is this social institution if it doesn’t help us live? Similarly, if business does help us live, then how can I doubt that politics or religion also help us live and justify or support of these things?

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