So the colleagues have started debating the outcome of the upcoming elections – to death. There is more or less equal support for the two main candidates right now, although things could change over the coming weeks. Everyone is passionately trying to convince those from the other camp that their candidate is the one that should and will win.
They’re so into it, you’d think their lives depended on it. They argue every morning. They talk about it during lunch. They talk about it at office meetings. It’s insane.
Sometimes a few people from one camp will get together and start talking among themselves about how their man is the best candidate ever, while not forgetting to eagerly and liberally badmouth the other guy like he’s the antichrist or something, as if he’d personally done something evil to them. It must be whole ‘feel-good’ factor of it all. Apparently it makes you feel good to team up with a bunch of likeminded individuals (even if you hate their guts) and bash a common “enemy”, especially when he can’t hear a word you’re saying.
The above, I’m sure, is a phenomenon that is taking place not just in my office, but pretty much everywhere else in the country right now.
There is nothing wrong with a healthy debate of course. This is a democracy after all, at least on the surface. But I can’t help but wonder why we do what we do.
What is it about these candidates that make people abandon all reason and rationality and follow them blindly like a herd of sheep? What makes us so passionate about our political stance?
Man, they say, is a political animal. Like it or not, politics plays an integral part in our lives.
Sri Lankans, especially, live, eat, drink and breathe politics. We all know that an overwhelming majority of our representatives, whatever party or political ideology they claim to represent, generally mess things up for everyone, but they have the audacity to come knocking on our doors whenever an election is announced, begging for our vote. And we vote for them regardless.
We blame them for everything that has gone wrong in this country since “independence” and yet come election time, we’re more than happy to cast our vote for them. That’s how much we love our politicians.
And they love us too. It’s a complex love-hate relationship that is almost beautiful and poetic by nature.
They need us to stay in power. We need them to provide us with entertainment solutions to our problems. We vote one party (or several, as the case may be) into power, and when we get sick of it we replace it with another. More often than not the replacement is just as inefficient and corrupt as the replaced, if not more so.
So, despite our knowing better, we queue up at the polling booths every six or so years eagerly awaiting our turn to mark the ballot paper thinking we have the power to change things. We delude ourselves into thinking that we, the people, are powerful and call all the shots, when in reality, that is never the case.
The reality is that a powerful few keep exchanging control of the powerless, ably aided and abetted by the latter. It’s a cycle. Is that necessarily a bad thing, though, considering we seem to be doing relatively well compared to some of our neighbours? We may never know.
But one thing is certain: it is here to stay. Unless we wake up from this slumber this trend will not change; and as things stand now, chances are that might never happen. The question is: do we really want it to?