Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Political is Personal


If the personal is political, and my songs are personal, then…

I usually refrain from ranting about politics, first of all because I feel like I'm not qualified. The closest I came to studying poli sci was History of French Civilization. I mean, come on. And secondly I feel like there's enough ranting in the world and I don't need to add to it.

Unfortunately, tensions are high in an election year, and in the Facebook era that means getting bombarded with everyone's off-the-cuff opinions and articles that support their viewpoints. I log on to the Book of Faces and skim through everything, usually to find myself stewing in my own frustration.

(Maybe I do that on purpose— going somewhere and reading stuff that I know will make me angry because I need something outward to direct my anger toward so it doesn't collapse inward. Maybe that's why everyone feels qualified to rant about politics, because it's a more acceptable form of aggression than punching someone ugly.)

It's not that I want everyone to agree with me. I'm pretty liberal, but I definitely appreciate well-reasoned arguments for small government when they actually come around. However, most of the political opinions I see are just so poorly reasoned! Opinions on all sides of this current Chick-fil-A madness have been so frustrating to me that I actually jumped in and posted this:

"With every purchase you make, you are voting with your dollars. Not just when you buy something from a company that's recently gotten bad publicity or is the subject of numerous Facebook memes, but EVERY time you buy something. There are so many issues to think about when you think about what companies you're supporting: fair labor practices, environmental waste, treatment of animals, use of carcinogenic chemicals… and yes, treatment of LGBT folk, to name only a few. I'm glad the Chick-fil-A issue is raising people's consciousness of what their purchasing power can actually do, but one CEO's insistence on "traditional marriage" is not the only hill to die on. And I don't eat chicken anyway. :)"

Amazingly, people on both sides seemed to appreciate it. I'm kinda thinking this is my cue to jump in and try to say things that are somewhat sane rather than just sitting back and trying to make things better by staying out of it.

And you know what? I'm already involved in politics. I eat vegan foods, a lot of which are organic and local, because I want my food choices to reflect my values. I use my bike to commute because I think that self-propelled transportation is a step we need to take toward sustainability. I'm a feminist (more about that some other time.) And I write songs that …

I've often wished that I knew how to write a good protest song à la Guthrie, Dylan, DiFranco. But my music is already political! It might be subtle, but I write about gender relations, struggles with religion, how love is the same no matter who I'm dating… And I'm a woman using my own voice and making a career for myself.

I guess maybe that does mean I'm qualified to talk about politics. Maybe we all are. Isn't each of us having our own voice the very point? ;)

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