I don’t have much use for agendas and politics. Within about 30 seconds of meeting someone for the first time (I exaggerate), I usually know if they come with a goal of seeing others as a means to an end; sometimes, they are more obviously games-players, fakes, or manipulators. This awareness is not so much based on cynicism as it is on perceptiveness, aging, and experience. People often quickly advertise what they are about through appearance, action, or words, in any case. Sort of like Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice or Gordon Gekko in Wall Street.
There are, of course, agendas in relationships. Someone badly wants to get married and have kids; someone else may want the convenience of a live-in lover or ‘shack-up’ as some of the lower classes term it. There is a politics, too, to such things as taking out the garbage, cleaning toilets, preparing meals, and housekeeping. So agendas and politics are often strongly built into even the most loving, benevolent of relationships.
Is it any wonder that as many marriages break up today or that most relationships have a transient, disposable quality to them–a far cry from ye olde marrying for life, ‘through thick and thin’? Commitment, patience, and adaptability have all taken hits in modern attempts at relationships. Who can one trust, and for how long, especially when people enter relationships with given agendas and ready, in an instant, to politicize their positions and roles?
Children themselves often become the victim-pawns of relationship agendas as in the classic song “You’d Better Sit Down Kids”. When separation and divorce become the priority, the questions become ‘Who gets the dog, the house, the cars, and the kids?’ Again, politics–much as in the case of the potential politics of grandparenting–where questions may arise as to who gets to visit or look after a newborn more/most. Both these elements are potentially built into any (ironically, innocent) new life from birth.
Both elements are, likewise, potentially built into friendships. Samuel Johnson’s essay on friendship explores this theme in his essay on friendship. His view is that friendship often ends when friends cross each other or demand too much of the other. To this, I would add that agendas and politics are often absent or minimal in the best friendships–which gives them a unique altruistic, empathic value not found elsewhere in other, often physically closer relationships, ironically.
Of the workplace, I could speak much, having seen nothing but agendas and politics every which way, most noticeable in fiefdom-style staff meetings where ‘democratic input’ is supposedly invited, but often ignored, or countered in actual subsequent practices and policies. Of strikes, even the most spirited and heartfelt of them–I have a very low opinion and zero faith, having seen so many well-intentioned, common-sense strikes fail dismally when countered by unresponsive, ‘non-blinking’ authoritarian attitudes. There are many people who have needlessly ‘died’ while advancing agendas in rigged political games where authoritarian deafness rules; i.e., ‘It’s my way or the highway.’ That’s not to say, though, that I don’t believe there are things worth fighting for. Just that people have to pick which fields they will choose and are ready to ‘die on’.
My own life has been pleasantly, beatifically free of politics and agendas since I retired. I no longer go off daily, Don Quixote-style, to fight losing battles and no longer have to contend with agendas except for junk mail, omnipresent advertising, and solicitation phone calls. Relative to them, I know which causes or agendas I support and have some feeling about donating to, and don’t need anyone else to take up my personal time or to, intrusively, distract me.
The real needs of others typically come down to family and family has remained first priority for me. So there are those responsibilities I still believe in, buy into, and fulfill. And the rest of the agendas and politicking can go to heck as far as I’m concerned. (Or more politely–there are many problems that are beyond my sphere, my knowledge, interest, and remaining time, that will have to be solved or battled for by others with their own interests and agendas. It’s a big world after all, and one is better staying focused on what is most important to oneself and one’s family and friends. The money, votes, recruits, and general surrender of critically-thinking selves will have to be generated from other sources. And the rest will just have to take care of itself in the using of and manipulating others.)