Where’s the love?

SEPT 9 — I find there is a lack of love in the world today and I don’t just mean the romantic late night car rides with your boyfriend or watching football at a mamak with your loved ones.

I’m referring to all kinds of love; parents and children, between siblings, friends and even pen pals.

Recently, I had the misfortune of hearing about a friend’s problem with his loved ones. Instead of setting aside petty issues, everyone seems to be keeping score.

Of course, this led me to notice the fact that there seem to be no love lost when it comes to political representatives who hop to another party.

Facebook has been a good tool for communication but too many people on Facebook are going for idle chatting with no real substance. Nowadays, we wish someone “Happy Birthday” on their wall post in Facebook. Gone are the days when you personally sent them a birthday card or made a phone call (or even SMS) to wish someone a Happy Birthday.

Relationships seem more distant than close in the age of technology. It is no surprise then that political parties are actively using technology such as social media to sow distance between supporters of different political parties.

In the US, both Republicans and Democrats are able to work together after an election, despite who wins. And their politicking doesn’t seem to be as dirty as ours where name calling is the norm, stepping on leaders’ pictures (or mooning them) make headlines and every proposed changes by one party is opposed by the other – simply because they’re from opposing camps without taking into consideration the validity of the suggestion.

I wish politicking in the country doesn’t have to lead to hating the other party. Disagreeing is fine. Not supporting is fine. But why are people being encouraged to hate the other party?

Both sides are guilty of doing this. They trumpet their own success and criticise the other as if it’s the devil. (Or in one case, call themselves the devil).

The truth is, both sides need each other to survive. We live in a democracy — where check and balance by at least two different sides is what keeps the racket happy.

But look at the way we treat our friends on Facebook. A small handful are the ones we keep dear to our hearts even after two years of not meeting. While hundreds more are the ones we pick up from god knows where without so much of an occasional hello.

If we as mere mortals can trust so few people to be close to us, it’s not that difficult for a political party to sow discontent, distrust and hatred for the other party.

I believe it all boils down to leadership. How our leaders practise relationship building (and relationship destroying by some other parties) consequently affects how we treat people. If we believe that relationships come and go, why isn’t the ruling coalition going yet? Clearly, some of us believe in relationships that stay — apparently for decades.

Which begs the question, can a relationship only stay if there is sufficient effort to destroy other relationships? Yes, I am referring to the constant hate-waging between political parties. These people believe that in order to ensure loyalty (which translates into votes), one must constantly close communication with the other side eg. by having its own newspaper to voice its primary agenda, sing praises about itself while demonising the other side and disallowing any display of discontent in the name of stability.

Disagree with your own party and you are deemed disloyal.

When you look at it, the actors on the stage of politics are people, like you and me. When we start thinking about voting, we should ask ourselves the same question we are faced with every day.

“Do we want a lasting relationship — despite some downside — believing that a stronger relationship means communicating our needs and slowly changing ourselves for a mutually satisfying relationship?”

“Or are we tired of the person we’re with and want to try something new altogether?”

It’s not difficult to decide who we want to vote for when we put it in that context.

Unless politics is that high school friend you added in Facebook but never made real contact with. Where indeed then is the love?

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.


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