I do not write about politics because I want to.
I write about politics because it is my responsibility as a human being.
You will notice, if you’ve embark on the adventure of following my blog, that an increasing frequency of the writings published here (for a while, at least) will be politically oriented: largely polemical opinion pieces concerning the domestic and foreign affairs of the United States.
This can seem contrarian to my generally free-spirited, adventurous personality. I’ve never aspired to achieve the label of “political writer,” and whenever I think of such a person, my mind conjures up a paltry image of a lonely CNN nerd, so brainwashed by the robotic propaganda of his party (whether Left or Right) that he is utterly out of touch with reality, incapable of understanding anyone who so much as raises a finger against his worldview.
If we were in a different world, or in a different situation, I would much rather get to my writings about fishing, adventuring, and philosophy first (I will get to them, eventually).
But I have spoken before of the fire consuming the world, and of my existential responsibility to douse the flames. Alas, I write about politics. Because it is my responsibility. Because it is what I need to do as a human being.
Writing about politics, especially in a manner adversarial to the majority, the establishment, and the status quo is not always a pleasant experience. People, old friends, inevitably drift away from you. Expressing your opinions with frank honesty can seem awkward enough when you do it on social media or in person; to write it on your own website can be a downright turn-off.
It takes courage to express the truth about the world (and as George Orwell said, there is a final, ultimate truth to all things: we shouldn’t let ourselves slink into the easy “moral relativism” that relinquishes us of any responsibility to take a side in tough situations). As Plato related in his Parable of the Cave, the man who sees the higher light of the outside world will face a Sisyphean struggle to convince those within the cavern, who believe ignorantly in only their own shadows, that there exists a higher truth beyond the limitations of their confinement. For the man who has ventured outside the cave and seen the truth of the world, bringing the masses to truth entails risking unpopularity, retribution, or death.
Speaking the truth takes courage, and I am proud to speak the truth. (Does this strike you as narcissistic? Either way, it doesn’t matter. Everyone should have the privilege of feeling Nietzschean pride within themselves, a confidence and trust in oneself that cannot be invalidated by the opinions of any other person).
I write about politics because I see a society corrupted by money, Donald Trump walking into the Oval Office, and the world barreling towards ecological catastrophe. I write about politics because of all this, and because anything less than screaming the truth at the top of your lungs would be outright cowardice.
I write about politics because I don’t want to come up empty-handed when my future kids ask me what I did to thwart the danger of Donald Trump, of Global Warming. Because I want future generations to know that Jared Olson gave his heart and soul fighting to make their future a better place: to ensuring that it’s even livable in the first place.
“History is not neutral, and time is the only true referee.”
I write about politics not because it’s what I want to do, but because it is what’s right.
When I worry my opinions are too radical, or that I need to condition them with an arbitrary shot of centrism, I remind myself how the ancient poet Simonides of Ceos once passionately declaimed that “Time has sharp teeth that destroy everything.”
In time, nothing seems radical. In fact, the things that were once considered radical in the past are revealed by the inexorable effects of time to be the most sensible, logical, compassionate.
History is not neutral, and time is the only true referee. So I worry little about sounding too radical in my writings, focusing only on the content of my words, because time will ultimately will ultimately erase the biases surrounding them and reveal their true character.
And when I think that writing about politics is a waste of my time, I remember the venerated, oft-forgotten men of the past who mustered the courage to face up with evil when it manifested itself before them. The dissidents, rebels, activists, and unruly writers throughout history that stood up regimes, mediocre governments and sadistic political systems. They saw their opportunity to stand up to frauds, and took it.
Writing about politics isn’t the first thing I want to do, but when I see fraud, I will jump on the opportunity to stand up to it in any way possible.
And I will sure as hell be proud.