random thoughts, Shar

Reflections on politics

An IRL reader reminded me recently that I haven’t posted anything except monthly updates in ages, and I told myself that this blog is not for perfect, composed pieces, so I thought I’d just chuck something together.

One of my new year’s resolutions was to be more engaged with politics and world news. At the suggestion (or perhaps incessant bothering) of Shanti, I signed up for the NYT morning briefing, a daily email of headlines of news around the world. In the last few days, I have also read a lot of articles, and so I might get into that a bit more.

I wanted to read more news because I realised that I got most of my news from secondary sources, mostly my family. I also occasionally read the local district newspaper last year, as it was delivered to my hostel, but it was very inwardly focused. Life was (and still is) good most of the time, and I live with all sorts of privilege that the majority of people do not. I wanted to feel uncomfortable about what was happening in the world, and have a deeper level of awareness about it.

A few months ago, I also signed up for the Nature briefing, a similar daily email but more focused on science and research news. It’s kind of geared towards researchers, but I learn some very interesting things from that and generally feel smart and science. The best thing was when I read this article about the effect of permafrost melting leading to earthworm activity in boreal forests, and had a lecture about the effects of climate change on boreal forests the same day.

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Here’s some things I got from/thought about the news.

  • After the Christchurch terrorist attacks, Christchurch was the headline of the NYT email every day for almost 2 weeks. This made me think about a) how it got far more publicity because it happened here, a rich country where these things do not happen, except when they do. Terrorist attacks and deaths in other places, say, Afghanistan, aren’t as noteworthy. b) I also thought about how, when it happened so close to me and in a place where I grew up, when friends were affected, I felt so much more emotionally fraught. To be expected, perhaps; a preference for the familiar is only human. But I want to grieve for needless, horrific, avoidable deaths everywhere, not just in (one of) my country (ies).
  • There’s a really big focus on elections/stuff trump said/Brexit to some extent. I think this constant focus on new news from outrageous politicians and political situations distracts from the issues the country is facing, especially ecological destruction, but also inequality and xenophobia and healthcare.
  • I mostly read the news from the NYT, and sometimes go on the Guardian app. What am I missing by only relying on one website for my news source? A lot, I imagine. Am I just seeking views similar to my own? How biased is the NYT?
  • Cyclone Idai was terrible, I think. But I barely saw any news about it and didn’t really muster up the motivation to go looking.
  • It is incredibly easy to read headlines, and then forget about them by lunchtime (it is usually a breakfast thing). I want to discuss and engage and talk about the news. I do have some friends who would help me with this, but I want to do more.

I now read the news, and I want to continue. It makes me feel more engaged. But I feel my next step is to get more politically involved. It’s one thing to be forming my own beliefs and opinions about politics and global events (even if I am still very shaped by the left wing ideologies of my upbringing and the news content I pursue), but the next step is doing something about it. I don’t know what that involves yet, but I’d like to be held accountable.

So, news? Politics? Biases? Staying engaged? Let me know any thoughts in the comments 🙂DSC04029.jpg

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