I have often heard myself saying that “Politics is life”. In saying this, I am usually attempting to provide a concise way of demonstrating just how meaningful and necessary it is to appreciate the relationship between our daily lives and our country’s political landscape.
In many ways, life and politics are inextricably interwoven. Take the mundane act of grocery shopping, for example: Our government dictate how much we have to spend on our shopping by having the ability to adjust wages and salaries through various policies. The current state of our economy impacts how much we will pay for each item. Our government’s relationships with foreign world leaders – both in terms of trade and compatibility – have an effect on where the stock has come from before it arrived in a supermarket to be purchased by us. This is just one collection of examples of how the wider political climate plays a role inside our homes, classrooms, workplaces and beyond.
For this reason, I believe it is appropriate to forgive a lot of people for thinking that our identities can also be influenced, or can have influence, in relation to politics. This, however, is a facet of human life that can and should remain isolated from politics, and here’s why:
Politics exists in the realm of opinion. Coupled with our personal beliefs, our political opinions are maps of what we hope to achieve for ourselves and those that we care for. With each cheer or jeer following a parliamentary performance, we each solidify our belief in our separate causes, with the hope that we will one day feel mostly satisfied with the state of our government and with the freedoms we have gained from installing it. Taking personal factors into account, it would be reasonable to imagine that the political priority of a teacher may be to insure that they vote for and support a government who promises to fund schools adequately whilst placing an ample amount of value on education. This, however, need not have any connection to the educational background of the teacher in question, and therefore, to their identity. Let’s say that this particular teacher wants the things that I have already mentioned, but that they also believe that fair access to an appropriate education is a human right. Is this a political statement?
Now, let’s examine this in terms of our right to live freely as human beings: As a gay person, I am constantly reminded that there are many people who politicise my existence. From the people who believe that I should have less rights in workplaces and elsewhere, face prison time or even death for the way that I was born, to people who treat the love that I share with my soon-to-be Wife as a radically polarising political statement of intent.
Many of these people believe that Marriage Equality (and many other Human Rights issues) functions as a point of discussion, rather than an undeniable instrument to be used in a timeless battle to be recognised as equal. This attitude leaves room for opinion over subjects that only require the knowledge of what is morally correct or incorrect. Morality requires no such discourse.
One particularly jarring example of this can be found in the “Debates” surrounding the Trans community. Whilst I do believe that exchanging ideas between allies, trans people and those without knowledge on the subject is an excellent idea – a welcome means of educating both those within the LGBT+ community and those outside of it – I also believe that certain topics should not be up for discussion. There should be no debate on the existence of trans people and on their right to live authentically. This is a sentiment that should not go unheard.
The validity of someone’s existence is not “A matter of opinion“. Believing that people who belong to any marginalised group are deserving of less rights because of who they are is not “Having an opinion“. It is simply a person exercising their ability to speak in order to invalidate somebody else. It is the use of one voice to quieten the voices of those that you do not understand.
To summarise, a member of a marginalised group is not making a “political statement” simply by existing. If politics has any place in a person’s right to exist, it is only for the ways that it can be used in order to grant us all equal freedoms so that we may all be given the chance to live and love with abandon and without justification.
A person’s right to fair and equal treatment does not warrant a discussion. Instead, it demands for society to side with what is morally just and to do what is necessary to honour such a right.