You probably have heard it: “I don’t want to get political” or “I don’t want to talk politics”. When life suddenly becomes very real and certain morals and values collide, things start to get political.
However, when you look at everything in the world, from the first steps you take every morning when you leave your house for work, college, family or friends, ‘till the very moment you come back home. Everything we do is because of the political landscape we are in.
Let me put it a bit in perspective. I live in the Netherlands, which has decent social services. I have a roof over my head and basic things like healthcare, food and shelter are guaranteed, whether I would have the money for it or not. I will not become bankrupt if I suddenly become ill and need medical attention. When you would look to other countries, you suddenly realize that this certainty I have, is not a given in countries like the United States of America.
I for example also have a right to privacy, a personal space and the right to express my opinion (against the government). If you were to look at countries like China, then you already know that the people there are very restricted in what they can say or do.
Politics also determine things like, what movies you can watch, what games you can play and even who you can love…
The realization of politics being life, made me and my spouse more aware of the role we can play in society. Through my job I have been politically quite vocal when it comes to changes in healthcare, especially with subjects related to the digital world and the sensitive position patients have. I see it as my moral duty to participate in this discourse as I am knowledgeable and (feel) I know how we as a society can improve to protect everyone from getting sick, staying sick or even from dying.
My spouse on the other hand was still searching ways to participate in society and to be a force of good. To be the voice for those who cannot speak, those who cannot fight. Pursuing the rule of law first, the switch now was made to running for office. First at a local level and who knows what possibilities the future might hold.
This road we both have been on, whilst my spouse was running for office, got me into reading part one of his book series A Promised Land by Barack Obama. Now US politics is nothing like that of the Netherlands, but I was looking and searching for any tips which might be relevant whilst we were campaigning. Combine that with what I had already read in Becoming by Michelle Obama, both books gave me a feeling of… responsibility. I am not quite sure how to put it into words, but I will try.
If you are in a position to help others you should, but do not expect anything for it in return. Running for a government position is hard. It is time and energy consuming and is also very demanding on your family life. However – if successful – you can be a force for good. Your determination and hard work can make it so that a single mom has enough money, so she can go to college, work and still be able to afford childcare. Your determination and hard work can make it so that elderly receive the care they need in their final days/months/years. Your determination and hard work can make it so that the effects of climate change are reduced or even reverted!
In A Promised Land Barack Obama goes from his early years and ends with the assassination of Osama Bin Laden (basically his first term). He goes in great detail about certain US related policies, but also gives you insight at how the game is played. Things to be wary of and what you can do to achieve goals you set out to do. He believes, as I do, that a better world is possible if you are willing to work for it. The road towards this better world however is not smooth. There are bumps, holes, detours and more before progress is made.
One of his quotes in his final presidential speech was: “Don’t aim for perfection, just do better tomorrow.” If we keep doing better each day, eventually you will approach your ideal of perfection. You just have to work on improving day by day. You have the power to bring change. You just have to figure out how.
But… never, ever underestimate the toll it will take on your personal life, even your own health. You work in service for the people and are elected by the people. The book gives in clear detail the trials and tribulations one must endure running for and being in office.
And me and my spouse? Well I am still committed to improving our healthcare system, hopefully not just contributing to what we have in the Netherlands, but one day also to a more universal form of healthcare, which will benefit all people around the world.
My spouse though, after a long and tiresome campaign, has gotten elected to our local council. Already asking the tough questions and working with others to improve social services for underprivileged children, people with disabilities and our elderly.
We do not know what the road ahead will bring us, but one thing is for sure. We are determined to leave the world a little better than we have found it.