The annual political binge on campus took place recently, so I was anticipating the usual fun, viz., being campaigned to, being besieged with significant smiles from the candidates, random people suddenly addressing me, the all-powerful voter, by my name, as though we were bosom buddies, people who've been oblivious to my existence for a year and a half suddenly trying to get to know me better....the works. The vibrancy of student politics is one of the million reasons that I'm in love with this campus. Its so heartening to see people of my age who actually care about the future of this nation and its people are aren't selfish, hedonistic pleasure-seekers like the rest of us.
Another not-so-welcome discovery was something I came across in myriad conversations with a variety of people. I realized that most folks are so deeply cynical and suspicious of politics, and the possibility of change....Most reactions were along the lines of "I'm going to vote, but in the end, it doesn't matter who wins. It won't make a difference to ME." In a nutshell, the evaluative category to judge politics and its worth is ME. What will it do for ME, for MY prospects? How will it benefit MY life? The selfishness of it doesn't surprise me, because I do not believe that there was was ever a 'Golden Age' where people only thought of each others' interests. What does surprise me is the sheer naivete of it. Nobody seems to realize that they are intrinsically linked to everyone else, and their gains and losses are similarly related. In the long run, social improvement need not be a zero-sum issue. People can benefit without others necessarily losing out. Yes, I realize that life is difficult enough without one having to make sacrifices to improve the lot of the faceless, invisible Other, but then, if we're not ready to give up a little something, who else will? People clamour for equality of opportunity, but they refuse to examine if the ground that they're standing on is equal to the footrests of the others who may not so lucky to even have solid ground to stand on. The oft-repeated refrain is "Why should I pay for the sins of my ancestors?" But the point is, as a society, how long can we run, and where? Someday the process of change has to start. One needs to believe that whatever is given up has been foregone for a worthwhile end, and that in some way, somewhere, someone will be better off because of it. Yes, the possibility of sacrifice getting lost in the mire of corruption and red tapism is very possible, but that does not mean that we don't even try. We all want the same things--true equality, dignity, better lives for all. But we cannot shrink at the prospect of doing something tangible to get there. There is no invisible divinity who will grant us the paradise we crave for humanity.....Paradise has to be built, and nothing worthwhile can be built by those who are afraid to get their own hands dirty.