how come?

While discussing the US candidates and the influence of media in elections yesterday, I came to think of the origins of my political tinge, which I described as fairly left. After all, I grew up in an explicitly “non-political” house.

By the doctrine of my parent’s religion, Jehovas Witnesses were not to part-take in the “worldly” politics and not to vote at all, whereever possible. When laws required participation, which was the case for some elections in Austria (if I remember correctly, the elections for the President was a “Pflichtwahl”, every citizen had to go to), the followers of the faith were to participate, but cast an invalid vote, opting for neither of the candidates. So, politics were not discussed at all at home. If it was referred to at church, it was referred to as something obsolete, man-made, a sorry attempt of self-rule, that would never bring any good to anybody and therefore was shunned. Best stick to God’s advice at how to live and one would be rewarded, if not now, then after resurrection, such was the general rule. If caught in any debates about political issues, when one was out to proselytise, one was to stay absolutely neutral and should point out the futility of politics in general, when compared to the supreme suggestions, the bible has on offer.

I am not going to talk about the nonsense, this was. But the above explains my blank sheet upbringing, as far as political views are concerned. However, I find myself rather on the left side of the palette, when it comes to politics, now. For no reason, what so ever. Or are there reasons, I ask myself.

Maybe watching my father toil so hard as a baker all those long and horrible night-hours for an unacceptlable wage, still leaving my mom struggling every month, just to make ends meet, has something to do with it. Maybe being taken out of school to help earn a living for the family, when I was fifteen, has something to do with it. Definitely, 1986, when I first learned and seriously informed myself about the Nazi- reign in Austria and the Holocaust, had a big influence on me. The then Chancellor, a Social Democrat by the name of Franz Vranitzky, was the first to publicly mention Austria’s responsibilities in all the atrocities of that time. That caught my attention for politics for the first time, I think. I looked into the Socialist’s long tradition of resistance against the Nazis, in many cases payed for with their lives, and their ongoing fight against any right-wing opinions.

Thus, being a youngster, I was much “redder” than I am today, I think. As long as I lived in Austria, I always voted for the SPD. Save for the last time, before I left to live in Germany. I think I went for the Green Party, then. Over the years, I crossed the line from employee to running our own business and later to work where I am now in an in-between role, both employee but also responsible for staff and budgets. So I got a glimpse of “the other side” and the reasons for their arguments, too. Which is a healthy thing, I believe. Of course, business studies also were food for political thought.

However, I am still of the opinion, that only a certain degree of solidarity with the weak, the ill, the young and the elderly and also those few, who’ll never fit anywhere, is the glue, that holds any society together. It really is the only way, as far as I can tell. Even, if at first glance, it seems to be a tad unfair to the strong. In the end, it isn’t. And it is not only about providing for those who can’t fend for themselves, but about forming a society, where everybody gets a fair chance to provide for themselves. You know, that pursuit of happiness thing…

3 thoughts on “how come?

  1. You had a unique chance to figure out your own views on your own as an (almost) adult. I think most of us have our views formed for us by our parents’ views – our choice is either to go along with them or go to the opposite side in reaction to them. The choice between left and right is still a somewhat construed one, though. It’s harder to go from programmatic to non-programmatic thinking.

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