Everything is Political
My friend Kate Johnston has a friend that challenges her introductory college classes to find a subject that has no political implications. The idea made me grin.
Therefore, I immediately stole the idea and asked my friends on Facebook to give me ideas for “difficult” subjects to link to politics. This video covers three of them: chocolate, dog toenail clippers, and yarn.
The definition of “political” I’m working from comes from Merriam-Webster, definition 1B of the definitions it lists:
“of, relating to, or concerned with the making as distinguished from the administration of governmental policy”
In this sense, some government, at some level, has impacted the services you provide and receive, the goods you provide and receive, and the choices you make and have made for you. While you’re reading this, try to find exceptions to this rule.
A Deeper Dive
I covered three topics in the Everything is Political video:
- dog toe-nail clippers
Frankly, I didn’t need to go that deep. Off the top of my head, I could think of at least a half dozen ways, that political policies affect those three subjects. I present you with those “off my head” analyses:
Many countries regulate chocolate. It is regulated as to the amount of cocoa that must be present, how it can be processed, and how it is labeled. In addition, chocolate is largely produced by at least exploited labor. Actual slaves arguably produce some (much?) of the chocolate the west eats. Chocolate production reflects the entire history of colonialism, slavery, exploitation of brown and Black people largely for the benefit of white people. I’m sure with half a minute’s thought, you could think of other political implications of chocolate. For example, go look up Hershey’s WWII history. I’m sure you can think of other examples.
dog toe-nail clippers
Of all animals on earth, we love and interact with dogs most Tens of thousands of years ago, the first Neandertal woman built a campfire and offered her scraps to a half-grown wolf pup. Ever since, domesticated dogs have worked and played beside us, slept in our beds, and were buried in our graves. In the last 200 years, humans have created more dog breeds than in the 20,000 years of domestication prior.
As our lives have changed, so have our dogs’ lives. From homeowner associations (HOAs) to Federal governments, humans have passed laws to make humans safe from dogs and dogs safe from humans. Many dogs live most of their lives indoors, on soft carpeted floors. Because of this change in lifestyle we needed to develop a tool that keeps the toenails trimmed that nature used to care for. Because of capitalism, it wouldn’t do to use a tool designed for humans, so we have dog toe-nail clippers in a rainbow of colors and a slew of styles, all to pamper humanity’s oldest friend, all impacted by policies humans made to protect their animal companions. What other laws and regulations affect our relationships with dogs?
I cheated with this one, as I’m very familiar with the history of yarn. I’ve been an avid knitter for fifteen years now. I’ve been reading knitting magazines and books that whole time. Humans make yarn from a variety of materials. We make it from animal matter (wool, silk, mohair, etc.) vegetable matter (linen and cotton and other fibers) and man-made stuff (acrylic and other blends). Laws govern how the animals from which fibers are shorn and gathered are treated. Laws decide how plants are grown and harvested and prepared. And laws decide how the ingredients of a blended yarn are defined.
We use yarn in knitting and crochet and other crafts. These crafts have historically been social crafts conducted largely by women. Intelligent women knitters have used their crafts to change the world. Women in India knitted and crocheted blankets for elephants affected by global warming. Women around the world have knitted sweaters for birds rescued from oil spills. Most recently, In 2017, hand-knit “pussy hats” (so named because they had “cat ears” and knitters love a good pun) proliferated at rallies to protest the policies of Donald J. Trump.
Can you think of other ways we regulate yarns and the crafts that depend on them?
Everything is political. Name a service, a good, or a choice that humans can (or can’t) make that they think isn’t political. It probably is. Further, the conversation about this stimulates critical thinking, an important life skill. Thank you for watching and reading and listening. And thank you for thinking.
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I look forward to learning from and teaching you all. Comment below or at any of the links to start the conversation.