Being apolitical is a political choice


Imlisanen Jamir


We’ve definitely heard it. Two people are debating the merits of different principles when a third chimes in. 


“You know — I don’t really keep up with the news. It’s just so negative and way too stressful. And politics?  I just avoid it. And I’m happier because of it.” 


For some in this era, being apolitical has become something to brag about. And it is understandable, given that polarization has never been more pronounced (or not). But does being apolitical mean maintaining the peace by not broaching that thorny topic of politics? Not really.


Being apolitical is itself a political choice, just like all the choices we make. Our silence communicates that we don’t care enough to take a stance and that we’d prefer to keep things the way they are: seeing nothing wrong or unjust about the world. 


And while being political all the time can be tiresome and a sure way to get yourself disinvited from a dinner party, being apolitical all the time is no option, at a time like this. 


And to get off the apolitical horse, the first step is to be informed. But make sure that the source of information is credible. And as much as institutionalized media outlets have been at the receiving end for being too State oriented, it is also these institutions which are held to higher standards of accountability. 


Meanwhile, it is not necessary to be informed about everything.


Calls to be informed can pressure people to have a definitive opinion on everything. To reach a conclusion and have a stance on every issue would be stressful and also not recommended. The aim is to be informed enough to have conversations about important topics, especially the ones that matter to you. This can be liberating and presents a chance to ask questions, learn, and allow others to explain their views. 


Would stopping our apolitical ways alienate some family and friends though?


Keep in mind that there has to come a time when certain issues are so critical that you simply must bring them up in discussions with people and tolerate some discomfort and uncertainty in how they’ll react. 


How we shop, what we wear, what we listen to; all of these are political statements. Ultimately, every choice is a political one, including the decision to remain apolitical. 


If there ever was a time to embrace potentially uncomfortable discussions, it’s now. While the political systems we live in would be difficult to fundamentally reform, resigning to being apolitical, not discussing them, and not taking action is a guarantee they’ll never change. 


Many people in power would prefer you think that. 


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