GUC: Our lives are too limited to focus solely on politics
Opinions Column: Macro to Micro
I was probably the the last person on campus to learn about the results of the election. The night before, I watched my roommate check her phone every other minute with increasing anxiety. She opened her mouth to make a comment about the most recent percentages but I shook my head. “Don't you care about the possible implications?” she asked in an incredulous tone. I smiled and slept early that night, and quite peacefully too. The next morning, I did not check the news. Nor did I make any effort to seek information about the outcome of the previous night. It was half past noon when I overheard an international student make a remark about the strangeness of the United States. A few revelatory comments were made about the electee. I was neither shocked nor upset nor pleased — a stark contrast of state with the rest of the country, or university at the very least.
The source of my apathy is not necessarily derived from a place of privilege. I am, categorically, one of the foremost victims of the current rhetoric and political climate. I can be externally perceived as a visible Muslim woman from a mile away. I have directly experienced anti-Muslim sentiments and actions. People I care about, including other minorities, are directly impacted as well on a day to day basis. Words matter. Hateful speech inevitably manifests itself in verbal and physical assault within our communities. My family, friends, larger community, and I are not immune to the discriminative, disappointing behavior conducted by our own fellow students, neighbors and citizens. Nevertheless, I am inclined to shrug off the happenings of this past Tuesday night — at least to the extent to which I will let it affect the priorities of my life.
There is an exorbitant amount of preoccupation with politics. Some may justify it with a plethora of reasonable explanations. After all, many of us live through its consequences every day. However, the more crucial spheres of one's life are neglected. Namely, the matters of the heart and mind. Yes, all is interlinked but as I once outlined in a previous article, the structure of one's life can be illustrated through the usage of concentric circles. The smallest circle is comprised of one's human questions and understanding of the world. The largest circle is populated with topics concerning social and political affairs. The catch is that there is an inverse relationship between the width of a circle and its significance. The most relevant matters lie within the smallest circle. If there is a truth each living, breathing human can agree upon, it is death— an inescapable, yet quite ignored, reality. If death awaits all of us, then I can with confidence declare that we are all each terminally ill. I see fit to designate the purpose of my existence to not finding the cure, but to understanding why I exist in such a condition to begin with. Such a process can only be initiated with a close examination upon the self. The rest of life, with all of its distractions and theatrics, is pure jargon.
Occupying one's self with the state of politics will certainly make one aware of the operations of one's society. Occupying one's self with the state of one's existence, however, will make one conscious of a matter much closer to home. Knowledge of the two are not mutually exclusive but the latter is nearly never given the proper attention it deserves. The former's ostentatious content is far more alluring. The kind of reflection I prioritize is not reserved for the privileged. My words may cause the furrowing of eyebrows, perhaps even a cry of protest. Certainly, some readers may even think or exclaim, “Some of us cannot afford the luxury of such reflection when our very lives are threatened!” And indeed, I would not disagree that our concern should revolve around our life. We cannot afford to be so consumed with elections, with the next president, with any superficial political development precisely because our very lives are limited, so very transient. We cannot afford to not engage in the introspective process that will teach and reveal to us more truth than any news headline could attempt to offer.
The president of the governmental system implemented in the land I live in may change. Policies may change. Many aspects of my life may change — comfort, safety, security. But the nature of my existence will not. The questions that revolve around my existence will also remain. And so, I choose to seek and dwell upon the non-ephemeral and its source.
Aysenur Guc is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in philosophy. Her column, "Macro to Micro," runs monthly on Fridays.
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