Is Your Politics One of Principles or Pettiness?

Politics brings out the worst of people; it doesn’t have to

Douglas Giles, PhD


(Source: Piqsels)

Pandemics, wars, and elections. Events elicit responses from people, as well they should. It is good when people are aware of what’s going on in the world, and it is good for people to be involved in responding to events. But involvement in current affairs and politics can be more harmful than good. We see that frequently.

It’s human nature to be self-centered. It’s common for people to be lazy thinkers, to prefer simplistic dismissals of current events over the engaging with constructive answers. My purposes here are to acknowledge how people are and to suggest how people can be.

A Right to Criticize but Not to Be a Jerk

Politics is about people — all the people, not just the rich politicos and lobbyists. Everyone should have the freedom to be involved in politics and political decision making. Of course, but too often forgotten, freedom comes with responsibility.

Being able to criticize political leaders and their decisions is crucial to a just society. Everyone has the right and even a duty to speak out against what they see as wrong. But if truth and justice mean anything, and I think they do, then critical comments have to themselves be truthful and just. That includes, but isn’t limited to, being civil in one’s comments.

When people are suffering, what is a truthful and just response? To be truthful? always; to be sympathetic? definitely; and try to help? absolutely. Snark and memes are none of those. Worse are diatribes and deliberate attempts to stoke hostility. Worst of all is hijacking an event to serve your own agenda.

Some people — perhaps most people — view events in terms of their preconceived ideological notions. They may be conspiracy theorists, paranoid, simplistic thinkers, or willfully ignorant. Regardless, their politics is dominated by their desires to see what they want to see and consciously or subconsciously manipulate perceptions of events to push their agenda.

We saw that manipulation over the past few years of the COVID pandemic. People were and still are hurting; people were and still are dying. Most people…



Douglas Giles, PhD

Philosopher by trade & temperament, professor for 21 years, bringing philosophy out of its ivory tower and into everyday life.