Cultural and political engagement is inevitable. Negative engagement is still engagement. In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer “Not to act is to act. Not to speak is to speak.” We can never assume that removing our voice and actions from openly political or cultural engagement is an actual removal.
However, we must never assume that constructive engagement is inevitable. We must not assume that just because we are always engaging that all engagement is constructive.
With these assumptions we can see where two errors can arise:
On the one hand there are those who believe that believe that they can disengage from what is happening in their current cultural or politics scene. They are blind to the fact that this perceived disengagement is simply a form of engagement in the negative form. Again, Bonhoeffer says that not acting is a form of action & not speaking is a form of speaking.
The other mistake comes from those who perceive the myth of disengagement. They understand that they are always engaging in some form or another. Even thought this group understands the inevitable nature of engagement, they use this as an excuse toward mindless or shallow engagement. These people engage in a reactionary or defensive manner. To make an allusion to this post’s title: this is a case of inevitable but unhelpful engagement.
In order for a more constructive dialogue to emerge from the current climate of reactionaries & hermits we need to address these issues. Too often we grow up in our society seeing only two options for engaging in cultural or political issues. We grow up seeing seeing two options: 1) Political talking heads addressing issues from a very shallow, reactionary position merely pandering for votes. 2) Teachers, pastors, parents avoiding issues entirely due to a fear of being perceived as one of the aforementioned political talking heads.
When it comes to engagement, we must understand that neither of these examples should be perceived as desirable. Instead, we need examples of individuals who know how to engage with the issues in a clear-headed and deep level; people who are clearly not pandering for votes but at the same time are unafraid to deal with the issues.
Food for thought.