BY MUZAFFAR HUSSIAN
For Jammu and Kashmir, 2014 is an election year, with Lok Sabha polls now underway, and assembly elections slated for November or thereabout. It is an opportunity for people to cast their vote for a candidate they think is the best guide for the next 5 or 6 years and, perhaps, beyond. None of us knows what the outcome will be. Those who vote do so with the hope that whosoever wins would be the custodian of their aspirations and mindful of the trust and power reposed in him or her. Only time will tell whether such a leader emerges from these elections. There, however, are still some people who vote but are yet undecided, and then there are others who have decided to abstain altogether.
One comes across a lot of people who feel they don’t like any of the candidates, and do not trust the government, no matter which party holds the reins. But those who withhold their vote convey the message that their vote doesn’t matter. They may have an array of reasons and experiences to lead them to believe so, but when someone decides that his vote does not matter, the message he unconsciously conveys is that “he does not matter.”
I have met a lot of people belonging to different ethnicities, religions, and countries and have experienced the fact that the biggest obstacle to a contented life is unconsciously holding the belief that “I do not matter.” Although people are not aware of this, it still reflects in their lives. It is a natural phenomenon all of us encounter in some form, be it disappointment, betrayal, broken promises, unfulfilled dreams etc. All of us feel let down by life at some point, either by our own personal experiences or by something that hit us close to our heart.
What we do and what happens to us really does matter! So before one decides that his or her vote doesn’t matter, I ask them to consider this: where else in their lives are they “sitting this one out”? Where and why have they pulled back, gathered up their marbles and left the playing field because they didn’t like or agree with the way the game was being played? What affairs have stopped working due, in part, to their decision not to fully participate?
You might be right in your argument that not voting is a way to register a protest for the wrongs committed by politicians. I don’t argue that the system is without serious flaws, but what alternative do we have to clean this darkness from our lives. By not participating we completely give up our right to script our future. Think of the people who have made a difference throughout the course of history and chosen a destiny for their nations. What is the difference between those people and any one of us? I believe no difference except that these people chose to matter and decided to be a part of framing their destinies. They did not seek any one’s permission and chose to do so in circumstances more difficult and trying than most of us face in our daily lives.
Elections are approaching, and as you consider stand, ask yourselves if you matter, if your vote matters, if your life matters. Be honest to yourself and your people and after careful consideration choose either way, it matters. You have the final say. And if you consider to vote, vote on merit. Because your vote not only impacts you but also the people around you, and if you choose a tyrant intentionally by casting your vote in his favor or by abstaining and letting him through, you are equally responsible for the sins committed by him.