Dear Voters

I’ve noticed something important in the current Karnataka Assembly Elections, which is also a similar trend I’ve been witnessing with the American presidential elections of 2016. Given that the Indian General Election is just around the corner (by which I mean next year), I wanted to say something that I’m not sure how many people will welcome it. I still hope you can give it a thought.

If somehow Rahul Gandhi ends up becoming our next PM in the future, I’m not going to hold any resentments towards any Congress voters or Lefties for that reason. I might disagree with you (because yes, I can be very opinionated and judgemental), but I won’t hate you for it because I understand you have your reasons to vote for him. I hope the BJP and other voters who oppose Congress extend the same understanding and let bygones be bygones.

Similarly, if BJP continues to have this government, I hope the lefties can extend the same to even the (whom you derogatorily refer to as) Bhakts or Sanghis.

I believe we have to leave behind this absurd tribalism when it comes to elections, and just act like adults, realizing that not everybody can share our world-views. Nothing good can come out being childishly wrathful.

After all, the reason we liberated ourselves from Colonialism was precisely because we wanted the power to choose for ourselves how we want to run our country, so we settled for Democracy as a system to decide that. To make sure that no power can take control of the massive constituency they don’t represent, we chose a system that allows us the opportunity to act out our representative powers so that nobody else tells us how to govern ourselves.

Of course, that means that sometimes we will not get what we want — and we, the people of India, have already settled to be okay with that. And we must remain okay with that, rather than throwing tantrums over not always getting what we want.

As much as we like to call ourselves to be Indians united under a single nation, it’s hard to argue that no nation is completely homogeneous. There will be massive differences in each of our ideals and fondness of processes, despite the fact that we may likely be concerned about similar things but just want to approach it differently, that we can’t take away the fact that not everybody will settle for what we want, and we can’t settle for what they’d like.

It’s pretty easy to be taken in by the media manufacturing moral outrage; when they try very hard to convince you that a specific candidate is a terrible human being, it’s also natural to apply heuristics and assume and the people who knowingly voted for that candidate must also be terrible human beings themselves. This can create a lot of toxicity, not just between the voter-base who otherwise may never have known each other to judge each other in the first place, but also potentially corrupting and severing decades-old relationships between people who otherwise would have trusted, loved and respected each other — often by assuming malfeasance where none exists. Sometimes it can also break out into physical violence, when there should have been no reason for it to occur.

What’s to say that this silly, and yet malicious spite between individuals is even worth it?

I mean, have we forgotten the age-old saying that politicians (no matter who they are) seldom keep their promises?

I believe we can be better than this. Obviously, we’re very passionate about our ideals, and the politicians we support who supposedly also carry our ideals, whether they live up to our promises or not. We can surely discuss and debate with each other, or explain to each other why we support what we do, but knowing that we cannot expect everybody else to agree with us, we also cannot set ourselves up for inevitable disappointment (and potential to become jaded) by that fact. It is not only unhealthy for you but also everybody around you. (This is largely why it is unacceptable to talk about politics and religion in productive and chill places, like offices; because these days we can’t even trust ourselves to be mature about it anymore.)

I wish we had a code of honor to abide by when it comes to elections — say, like sportsmanship. Doesn’t matter if we got what we wanted, who wins or who loses, because despite our disappointments we could still shake hands, thank each other for having a great game, and still walk out smiling while simultaneously pondering about what we did wrong, and how we could turn the tides next time. Of course, one could argue that such a code is meaningless given the violence and harmful laws and policies in politics.

But I ask you: What matters most to you anyway? What are you willing to prioritize above all else? Family? Friends? A candidate who will likely never know you exist nor care about you?

Would you rather live in a cozy bubble with only people who already share your views? Or would you rather want to make peace with every kind of person, and work with them if necessary with their fresh perspective and skill, whether or not you’re willing to understand them?

Because personally, I enjoy a good conflict, but there are also times when some conflicts have a cost that is too unreasonable to pay. And I don’t know about you or anybody else, but I personally want to work with you to be able to make the world a slightly better place with our own hands, rather than place all my hopes and dreams on a candidate who may never keep his utopian promises.

So, when all is said and done, no matter who wins, even if it’s not the candidate you and I prefer, I sincerely hope we can still be friends.

And possibly still roast each other for fun like good friends do.

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