To Vote or not to Vote – the meditations of the moral dilemmas of a confused citizen

As the Sri Lankan Presidential Election draws nearer, I find myself twisted in a moral dilemma.

I do not hold any alliance to either of the two main candidates and frankly I do not want to vote for either of them. I do not see much difference in either of them. I do not want more of the same, and neither do I want the same in a different colour and form. I will not go in to details of why I don’t want either of these two candidates. Simply I want a candidate who is a moral and visionary leader, who is not violent or corrupt and has genuine deep love for the country and her people and is beyond his/her own political gain and power.

How should I exercise my fundamental rights, and what is my moral and ethical responsibility as a citizen of this country?

My Options
1. Don’t vote at all
2. Spoil my vote
3. Vote for another candidate, after all there are about 24 to choose from
4. Take a position, vote for the incumbent president or the main opposition presidential candidate.

As I ponder on my options I reflect on the often hacked quote “the people get the government they deserve”. Which means that voting or not voting still makes me responsible. “I” am the “people”. Therein lies my dilemma.

If I don’t won’t to vote because I don’t care who comes in to power means then I will (and will have to) learn to be happy with whatever the results.

I do care. So I can’t take option 1.

Option 2, is as equivalent to not voting, with the exception that by going to the polling booth and using my polling card I am reducing the possibility of someone using my vote without my knowledge – which is a very good possibility given the corruption and rigging that goes on during elections in Sri Lanka. A very strong possibility in this election as it seems like a very close race, and one of the parties are surprised and shaken by the closeness of it.

Option 3 reminds me of the conversation I had with my sister-in-law on the way to Sunday lunch to my parents’ house today. Her friend had told her “There are two horses in this race, so please don’t go and vote for a donkey”. I do not mean to be insulting about the other candidates. I like to think that the reference to “donkey” is a reference to their ability to win in a “race” and nothing else. So actually voting for one of the other candidates other than the two main candidates is as good as not voting (option 1) and spoiling my vote (option 2).

I am left with option 4. Take a position.

I am back to the same place. It is a vicious cycle. I care who wins the election, but the kind of person I want to vote for is difficult to find in the options I am presented with.

Then there is my ego. I also do not want to be held responsible for bringing either of these two candidates in to power. Which means my ego will absolve itself of responsibility and point the finger at others when things are going wrong. This seems a very weak spineless copout action.

Then there is reality. One of these two candidates will come in to power, whether I vote or not.

I am back to square 1 or option 4. I have to take a position.

As I write this some of my friends are attending a mass meditation for bringing peaceful elections. I couldn’t attend, and I promised I would join in from home and join their vibrations.

So I stop writing and start meditating.
I breathe in. I breathe out. I breathe in and breathe out, till my thoughts quiet down and my body relaxes and I deepen in to myself.

Half an hour later …
I am more centered. I re-read what I have typed. Realize how confused I sound, but leave it, because while that person still exists I am also able to access a more centered, loving, compassionate being within me.

While I meditated I visualized both the main candidates faces in my minds’ eye. I saw them as human beings and not just as politicians and war victors. I saw my humanness mirrored in them. I forgave them as I forgave myself. The small, petty and sometimes mean human ego has no business forgiving them, but this compassionate spiritual being can. I asked my cynical ego to shut-up for a while.

In my meditation I also realize once again how inter-connected we all are and how all our actions create the future in to being. I held the contradiction that on one side we have no control whatsoever and on the side we can influence anything.

I go back in to my meditation on this paradox.

I have no control in the system.
I have influence in the system.

I can feel (in my meditation) that I can influence the system with my love and compassion and join all those Sri Lankans who hope and pray for a better and different future. I also become aware that part of this compassion is also being in the present and for appreciating what we have right now and to build on those strengths. I am now able to send out to both these candidates and to the 'soul of Sri Lanka' my highest hopes and my deepest compassion that may the best person for the country lead us, and may the person who lead us be the best for our country.

I now laugh gently at my confused ego that still doesn’t know what to do come 26th January the Election day. I tell ‘it’ that I am taking responsibility for all my actions and non-actions and for whatever the outcome of this election.

Blessings to the higher spirituall selves that reside alongside all those hopeful, fearful and petty human egos … may our higher energy unite in peace and harmony.