Voting, food, career, spending, success– all of these and more are political acts.
We don’t realize it while we’re doing them, but all are meaningful in terms of who they help– ourselves, our families and communities, or the world at large. The mere act of paying rent to the stranger who owns your apartment building, for example, is a behaviour that enriches someone you don’t know instead of you and your loved ones. This is the same for every dollar we spend or every minute we pay attention to something.
We all live in a web of relationships and attention that include friends, family, and co-workers, but you also choose the web you live in, and the ones you decide to help. Every time you choose one web over another, it can change your quality of life for the better.
By deciding to optimize your health by eating at home, for example, you are already deciding not to participate in the McDonald’s and Olive Gardens of the world, choose better quality food for yourself, all while increasing your own competence. By taking part in a farmer’s co-op you are enriching your own neighbourhoods instead of the Wallmarts and Carrefours of the world who would rather shut down stores than allow unions.
Every time you take part in a scheme that favours the rich, you also increase their power over the poor. This also happens every time you talk about Twilight over some other (less popular) movie.Â Even more important: If you are part of the attention- or capital-poor class, you’re also impoverishing yourself.
Making the choice to be healthy only benefits you and those around you. But if you choose not to care, you take part in a massive web of insurance companies, take out restaurants, and doctors who count on your apathy to profit. Then, the choice of what to do is theirs, not yours.
All acts of purposeful ignorance or negligence enrich others instead of yourself. All acts of learning empower you and those you care about.Â This is why you should learn to read more, be more crafty, and know how to fix your own car and bike. The sense of competence it comes with is like gold, and you will wonder why it took you so long to get it.
I know I did.