Secondhand Politics

There’s something supremely unhealthy about lust for power. It’s not a natural urge for most people; more like an acquired vice. Politics gives the habit of butting into other people’s business an aura of respectability, although I’ve never understood the reasons. Smokers are hounded relentlessly for just smoking; bureaucrats get away with sticking all sorts of distasteful stuff in other people’s craws, and polluting the atmosphere with all kinds of damaging rhetoric. So what about the harmful effects of secondhand politics? They foul our airwaves, and our minds, our schools, our hospitals, our communities, our libraries, our newspapers: even our marriages. More of us need to complain about that.

Our prisons are already full of people who are suffering from other people’s politics. How many more prisons shall we build, and for whom, I wonder? Maybe they won’t all be called prisons; they may be dubbed ‘containment centers,’ ‘evaluation facilities,’ or ‘quarantine camps.’ What new class of criminal will the next wave of political reforms create? What legal behavior will next be classified as criminal for the sake of public health or national security? Whose standards will decide what is crime, and what defines freedom? It’s absurd to make such a stink about secondhand smoke and ignore the more deadly, offensive, and ubiquitous effects of secondhand politics.

Secondhand politics don’t confine themselves to a small area. There is no minimum age to take up the foul habit of polluting other people’s lives with the odor of sensibilities run amok. Kids may not be able to vote, but they certainly get involved in politics and are often encouraged to do so. Where’s the outrage over seducing young minds into the vile and addictive habit of minding everyone else’s business? There’s a whole industry at work to destroy the integrity and the humanity of the next generation by marketing a dangerous product to them. Who cares? Did you know that politics is the leading cause of war? That politics probably kills more people worldwide than smoking, every year? Do you want your kids taking up such a nasty habit, especially at a tender age? While you’re warning them about the dangers of drugs, sex, and alcohol, toss in a word of caution about politics.

Why is it that the least civilized people always get the upper hand in society? Brutal people don’t mind using force, and gentlepeople yield to it because they’re gentle people. That’s not a bad thing to be, but even gentle people need to show a little backbone when lives or liberties are at stake. Resorting to violence isn’t necessary, and violence should always be a last resort if it were necessary: Violence wins nothing but more violence in the end, and there is no true victory in slaughter, just an illusory triumph. It’s commonly accepted that martyrs and saints have always died at the hands of transgressors, not the other way around. Be gentlepeople, if you will, but stand firm: Truth makes the finest armor, and the remarkable thing is that when you shield the truth, it will also shield you.

Weapons of mass destruction are suitable toys for children born of the union between a terrible lie and an adulterous idol, with hardness in their hearts and envy in their veins. They covet, and call it a kindness; they steal and call it a service; they kill, and call it liberation or protection; they would even damn, and call it salvation. This is what we call governing, and misrule thrives in pursuit of its abominable goals because we buy the lie and bow to a loathsome idol. So much for “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness;” it looks like we’re better provisioned for death, slavery, and the pursuit by misery.

The greatest victories are won, not with bombs or clubs, but by refusing to surrender. He who loves peace has already overcome the enemy in his own heart, and conquering that adversary is the greatest victory of all.


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