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How Politics Became My Thing

By Meera Gill

I did not know the value of politics until about three-four years ago, but now I do. This realization or flavor for it did not just come to me because one fine day someone told me about it just how I am telling you it now. I did not have a change of heart with an “aha moment”. It gradually grew on me and took me many years of living an aware public life to feed it.

To start this journey, since childhood I objected and did not accept many traditionally and socially accepted acts that appeared unfair or unkind to me. I always believed that there has to be better options for the people to choose from. All options could not have been exhausted; there has to more that has not yet been explored. Answers are there, we just need to have the drive and thirst to explore them. This unrest and rejection of  norms stayed with me during my life in India and then all though my journey in Canada. I must say that I have been paying hefty prices for demanding more from life and breaching many preset boundaries, limits, sanctions, fears and rules for which others seemed to have no problem living by.

In addition to my unapologetic rebellious self, I also had this one other strong faith. Faith that good people can change all bad happenings in this world; they have the key. So I helped in many social awareness projects, initiatives, talks, events and more. But then slowly people started coming to me, asking me about my opinion on not only social issue but also on political issues. I answered them with same ease and passion as always did on social issues. The shift between these streams was natural for me.  It was after a while when I reflected as to what made them now see me as a person who also has strong political opinions. Even if I try really hard to recall,  I am unable to pin point just when this piece of politics started riding along me on my smoothly running journey. Nonetheless, by this time I realized that I have graduated from my earlier thoughts, just as any adult should do. Some probably do it sooner. I would assume men go through this transition much earlier than I did for the obvious reason of their exposure to the related politiall experiences, not because of their interest but due to their  sheer proximity to such talks and situations.

Moving right along, I now realize that not just the good people but the good-and-aware people have changed societies, cultures and the political landscapes. Let it be Saints; Sufis; progressive, intelligent and brave Sikh Gurus; Gadaris; Bhagat Singh; Martin Luther King; and many other such leaders as well as role models, who understood the power of intention and words; words that are spoken and more importantly those that get written, have changed this world.

Now if anyone tells me that all the regional, religious or spiritual leaders that I have mentioned above were not politically aware, then we are simply standing far from the truth. In all times of the world, politics has been there. Politics in the most simplest form can be understood as collecting public money (given as donation /taxes) and then finding smart ways of spending it to meet the needs of the society; let it be on keeping people safe or provided for them one way or the other.  Over time, this collected money has been spent in many good ways and also stupid and unkind ways. Both ways of managing this spending was politically charged. So politics itself is not good or bad, but it is the intention of those people who run it. Politics is as essential system to keep, understand and run as it to have a home, car and a job. Are you still not convinced?  Give me just a few more minutes of your attention please.

I have to admit that I now think I have wasted a lot of years not knowing what the role of politics is and why is it important to have aware public and leaders with vision. A kind vision for the public and not a generous vision for their own bank balances. I will share details of my simple talk that I had with my son today who is a 21 years old young adult and does not have much interest in politics. It went on like this:

On a TV channel, proceedings of the House of Commons were going on. I asked him to keep that channel on and he looked at me as if he was saying, “really mom?” I said, “ok son, watch your soccer game but know that the decisions on amount of taxes that go on,  on all your soccer jerseys, soccer shoes, balls, which company can provide these goods in various countries, what wages to pay to the workers who are making these products, how much taxes the companies have to pay on their profits on selling them to public, which country will have world cups, how many soccer fields we are going to have in our city, how coaches are going to behave with the players they train, and much more such topics are all decided in the field of politics. Are you still sure do not want to know about politics?” His face changed many colors as I went through my spiel.

I conclude here by now asking you to just let this write up sit in one cover of your brain and let it manifest for the sake of our future generations.

Regards for all you patient and fertile minds, we together can make a difference.

Meera Gill is a Surrey-based writer and activist.

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