Being well-informed about the government isn’t just good for us, it is our duty
“Don’t talk about politics.”
“Only elders talk about politics.”
“It’s dangerous to talk about politics.”
“Politics is a bad thing.”
If you have come across any of the above dialogues in your real life, you shouldn’t be surprised. Of course, given the political instability in our very country, you are scared to share your opinions regarding politics, because you don’t want to put anything at stake. Maybe you don’t dig deep enough into the “why” when you see headlines about political issues printed on the newspaper. Or maybe, you think that just because it doesn’t involve you, you probably shouldn’t know much about it.
From the morning cup of tea you have at the tong to the evening snacks you buy, you pay taxes for a never ending list. Like it or not, the government plays a huge role in our lives. Tomorrow, if a rickshaw-puller demands Tk10 more from you, maybe you’ll ask yourself whether he really deserves it. When you pay for a burger, you know the money’s going to cover up for the ingredients in the meal you’re having. Similarly, as a citizen, it is your right to know where your taxes are being spent, what your government is doing.
If you aren’t an informed voter, are you a responsible citizen? Because, “politics is bad,” shouldn’t that give you a bigger reason to know about it? There is a huge misconception that is injected within us during our upbringing, and that is, being informed about politics is the same as being in danger while practising politics.
Yes, participating in rallies might mean you’re involved with politics, but reading the credible news portals and keeping yourself informed about what the government is doing -- that’s not politics. Instead, that’s a basic right assigned to you as a usual citizen.
If the legal age to vote in a country is 18, you don’t expect that young adult to instantly understand the political situation without any context, and vote out of the blue. The “knowledge” of politics has to be included within the upbringing. Of course, it’s not like parents will blabber politics at the dining table. Maybe, the parents can make their children initiate the habit of reading newspapers when they’re teenagers.
Maybe, the schools can keep at least one class a week where they could teach the students how the parliament works, where the tax is going, and things that will make them an informed citizen. A discussion about politics does not necessarily have to be a discussion about dirty politics. Being well-informed about your government doesn’t mean you are turning out to be an anarchist.
If we’re afraid of talking about politics with the younger generations, you can imagine how devastating it would be that they don’t know well enough to make sensible decisions when it comes to voting, or supporting a party.
It’s about time that we start saying “don’t talk about dirty politics,” instead of telling everyone, “don’t talk about politics.”
Rafeed Elahi Chowdhury is an author, and a trainer.