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Why bother with politics? May 25, 2009

Posted by laïcité in Feminism v Patriarchy, Philosophy, Rants, Religion.
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So here it is. First post. And already I am faced with cynicism, not just from myself but also from the general air of apathy that seems to plague the people of Singapore. It would be so convenient to submit myself to blissful political ignorance, just like so many other youths do. After all, I’m not gay, or working class, or impoverished, nor do I belong to a racial minority. There’s no reason for me to get worked up over political and social issues that would probably never directly affect me. Right?

 Wrong.

 Firstly, I am nonreligious. One would assume that it wouldn’t be much of a problem in secular Singapore, but that is sadly not the case. Too often, policies are defended and justified on the basis of reflecting the “universal” conservative opinion in Singapore, as represented by the various religions. When liberal atheists or freethinkers state their position on certain issues, we are brushed aside as representing a radical liberal minority, while other otherwise unjust and unreasonable positions (such as the justification of homosexual sex remaining criminal) are accepted on the basis of “religious reasons”. Where is our platform? Do we ironically need a “Church of Freethought” which claims to represent dogmatic liberal values (Ha!) in order to be taken seriously?

 Secondly, I am female, and many of our rights and freedoms are being contested and even denied in the name of fundamentalist religious or conservative reasons. I had never questioned the many freedoms that we Singaporean women enjoy, but the recent Aware saga involving the fundamentalist Christian takeover shook me out of my complacency. It made me realize how easily religious fundamentalists can take over an organization, and how hard won our freedoms are. Our reproductive choices, employment opportunities, protection from rape and assault and even the way in which society views women and their choices (sexual or otherwise) are so intricately linked to the activism of secular feminists, and ought to be fiercely protected in the face of religiously fueled misogyny and sexism.

 Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, I am human. Discussions about politics and philosophy are essential for a fulfilling life as a human being. In Plato’s The Apology, Socrates says:

 I say again that daily to discourse about virtue, and of those other things about which you hear me examining myself and others, is the greatest good of man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living.

 Socrates would have rather died (and he did) than cease his philosophical inquiries. I only wish I were half as devoted to the pursuit of reason and rational discussion.

 I don’t expect my opinions to change society, but at the very least, this blog would serve to preserve my sanity which is constantly under siege by frustration over irrational and intolerant views. We liberals need to show that we exist, that we are not immoral or crazy, and that we do not deserve to be pushed to the fringes of society and have our views dismissed during policymaking.

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