Political Avoidance – Feb 7, 2016, Kim Taylor, Renshi, CI Sei Do Kai Guelph ON, Nanadan

One of our senior folk remarked to me yesterday “I stay out of the politics”. I remarked that you can ignore the politics, but you can’t avoid it. Politics is, and somebody has to do it. If you ignore it, someone else has to do it.

Politics at the dojo level is simply the negotiations that go on in order to get along and get things done. Dojo politics? So and so sucks up to the sensei, sensei doesn’t sign your grading form, you get told to go help the beginners, Joe is a real jerk and cranks you after you help him put the wrist lock on. Do any of these sound like anything but getting along with people?

Then there’s the level of organization to organization politics, meaning your dojo to the regional or national level group. Again, it’s a matter of negotiation and getting along to get things done. You can’t get a sensei to a seminar in your area? You don’t know what’s going on because you’re out of the loop? The organization never told you about that grading, those rule changes? Sounds like you’re efficiently staying out of the politics to me.

The organization funds certain things but not others? Provides services in an unfair way? How is ignoring “the politics” going to help that? Only jumping in with both feet is going to change anything. Most of these organizations are volunteer and most of them are run by two types. Those who want to be in charge of stuff, and those who do it because nobody else will step forward. Often one type claims to be the other or is actually the other without realizing it. I truly suspect I’m the type who “does things because nobody else will”, but secretly wants to be in charge… and then I realize I have not been elected to a single political position in my entire life yet have held them since high school. Wait, no, I got elected as publicity director in high school. I suspect they call that communications director these days, communications being the same as propaganda for most organizations. But after that I decided someone else could do the work… and I’ve ended up doing it because nobody else wants to ever since. Well, that doesn’t actually prove I am not an egomaniac who wants to be in charge does it? Just that everyone else wants to stay out of the politics and makes it easy for me to be in charge.

Regardless, the power-seekers and the pushed into it. Why only these two types? Because everyone else is “staying out of the politics”. Better to shake your head and tsk tsk at what they are doing than to be doing it yes?

I try to stay out of politics but unfortunately I have trouble finding other people to shove forward to do the work for me, and apparently I still have an agenda. I still want to see certain things happen in the various organizations I’m involved with so I tend to keep politicing, but at a drastically reduced level compared to what I used to, and the worst of it is at the behest of others, so I’m a recovering politico I guess.

One day at a time.

So why do we think politics is a dirty word? Because politics is people. Most people have an agenda, if it’s not very broad it can be a problem for the group as a whole. Some politicos just want another title, or want to be “the big wheel” without the bother of doing the job. Maybe they don’t know what the job is? That’s a problem for those who what other things done. There are those who can’t see very far, they tend to only hear what those standing next to them say. This is a problem if the person standing next to them is not “your guy”. That means some other group gets the resources and you are ignored once more.

I could go on but I’m simply describing the various types you meet in your daily life. The waiter who figures he’s doing you a favour to bring your coffee, the boss who fires everyone according to how far from the main office they are, the secretary next door having the safest job in the company.

It’s hard for people to put aside their personal desires and opinions to think about the larger group. I recall being a director of one national federation and being called the “iaido director”. There was no such position and I was not appointed to the position as an advocate, my title was “director” and that’s that. I did my job that way, often advocating policies that did not benefit iaido at all, but that were of benefit to the group as a whole. In return I expected the other directors to take iaido into their considerations. Unfortunately, what most people expect is that each person is going to act out of selfish interest, thus the calculations and manipulations which are intended to get a “fair representation” of people in the directing groups. So many from this location, 50% women, an “iaido director”. Should any of these “fairly balanced” types vote any way than “what they’re supposed to”, in a way that isn’t selfish and limited in vision, there’s hell to pay. Kami forbid we should expect our leaders to think, that’s not what they were proportioned there to do.

45 years of “politics” and I still expect more than I know will be there but I prefer to believe in the progress of the human spirit.

Stay out of politics? By staying out you are participating. Somebody has to do it, somebody will, but it won’t be you. If you don’t like politics because selfish and small minded people are politicians, how do you figure it will help if you leave them to run the place?

You don’t want to get into the politics? Fine, but be honest about it. You’re too lazy, too busy, too uninterested in the bigger picture, sure. But never figure you’re above it. That’s saying you are above getting along with your neighbours… and that’s how you get lawyers.

Kim Taylor
Feb 7, 2016

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