Calling anything “political” is now akin to an outright insult. Even politicians shy away from the “political” label these days. The word, however, simply means “pertaining to public affairs.” Anything dealing with people is political. Pretending you’re not political is pretending you have no influence on public affairs.
Most people who claim they aren’t political simply mean they avoid divisiveness – they don’t readily voice opinions about public policies, or they look to befriend all sides of the political aisle. Better to describe them as “peacekeepers” or “pacifists.”
In fact, the covert or “soft” political actions are more powerful than you realize.
It’s tempting to just condemn all the political mudslinging and steer as far from it as possible. This stance, however, denies the basic fact that (unless you live alone on an island with no communication to the outside world) you are already very politically active. Every purchase you make, every click, like or share on the internet, every piece of entertainment you view, how you rear children, the church you attend, your occupation, the books you read or podcasts you listen to – even the search engine you choose – all of it is political. It’s not the overt politics of voting, protesting, campaigning or debating, but your actions shape the fabric of society. In fact, the covert or “soft” political actions are more powerful than you realize.
Consider a few highly effective strategies that have been used to covertly shift the tide of culture over the past several decades.
LABELS ON FOOD PACKAGING
In 2002 the USDA issued regulations on labels that use the word “organic.” This led consumers to trust that everything with an organic label had a certain standard. This packaging caused many shoppers (even uninformed shoppers) to learn more about the benefits of eating organic and more people began to “shop organic.” It was a quiet but effective way to change the spending habits of many Americans.
In 2010, the non-GMO project launched in an effort to discourage people from purchasing genetically modified products. Same strategy, similar effect. Labels led to awareness, which led to real purchasing shifts.
Imagine if pro-life advocates could label products to indicate whether they were formed with aborted fetal tissue?
THE UNDERGROUND HOLLYWOOD LOBBY
Since 1985, GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) has lobbied and incentivized various Hollywood influencers to include more gay and lesbian characters in movies and TV shows. Since then, those who identify as LGBT have risen to around 4.5% of the general population. The public perception of how many people identify this way, however, is much exaggerated. Most people believe around 23% of the population identifies as LGBT. Could this have something to do with the over-representation of LGBT characters in Hollywood?
Because so many conservatives want to limit government spending on public institutions, we often neglect taking an active role in how local government institutions operate.
What if we lobbied for more heroic Christian characters in movies and on TV? What if Christians and other people of faith refused to support a film that was bigoted toward people of faith?
SUBTLE CONTROL OF EDUCATION & LIBRARIES
Because so many conservatives want to limit government spending on public institutions, we often neglect taking an active role in how local government institutions operate. For example: who chooses the books for your local public library? For every book that supports a liberal mindset, is there another that provides a thoughtful, conservative counterargument? Check and see.
When a parent removes a child from standard public schooling into a charter school, homeschool or other option, do they still remain an active voice in their local school district which continues to use their tax dollars? Sadly, the answer is often, no. All the while, we wonder why public education continues to disintegrate.
If we don’t want ourselves or our children to be controlled tomorrow, we need to consider how our everyday actions shape the world around us.
As a busy person, it is easy to pretend that avoiding politics is noble. But that’s dangerous. As a parent, it is dangerous to think that just because you have enough money to buy your own books or select your own school that your children will remain unaffected by the world from which you’ve chosen to disengage.
Ignorance leads to detachment. Detachment leads to powerlessness. And powerlessness leads to captivity. If we don’t want ourselves or our children to be controlled tomorrow, we need to consider how our everyday actions shape the world around us. We need to courageously impact our spheres of influence. Our lifestyles, our dollars and our voices matter. Find others to partner with, and together let’s shift our culture in 2020!
One small but powerful way to begin cultivating your community in Anchorage is to attend Brave Conversations on Jan. 23 at 12100 Coffee and Communitas, 6-8 p.m. At these gatherings we practice the art of disagreeing peaceably, while bringing greater understanding to complex topics. Bring a dissenting friend! This month we feature a conversation on the politically charged issue of abortion. These conversations occur every fourth Thursday, same time and place. To sign up for monthly updates and reminders, email firstname.lastname@example.org.