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Get Involved By Avoiding Politics

Get involved!  And the best way to do so is to avoid politics.  I elaborate in my column appearing in today’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.  Here are a few paragraphs:

It’s a mistake to applaud greater involvement in politics as if such involvement is by its very nature the best use of people’s time and effort. A more serious delusion is that politics is the only — or, at least, the most noble — venue for each of us to get “involved” with our fellow humans.

In fact, though, we are involved even when we pay no attention to politics. We care for our families, support our friends, work at jobs that produce goods and services for millions of people and are active members of churches and clubs. Each of us is intensely involved, daily.

Indeed, we are involved better and more fully when we act privately (that is, outside of government) than when we act politically.

Acting privately, none of us intrudes without invitation into other people’s affairs. I might volunteer my opinion to my friend that he drinks too much but my friend can ignore me if he chooses. I have no way to force him to live as I believe he should live. For me, then, to become as involved as possible with my friend, I must strive to share my concerns with him in ways most likely to resonate with him.

Good friends and close family members are involved in each other’s lives truly and deeply. Our friends and loved ones are not faceless abstractions (“drinkers” or “smokers” or “workers”). Each is an individual with unique desires and complexities. To share friendship or love with someone is to learn, understand and generally respect these individual characteristics.

Regardless of what any silver-tongued politician says, no stranger feels our pain or can otherwise be involved with us in ways remotely as real as are the ways that our friends and loved ones are involved with us.