How About Leaving the People Alone?

Source: The Baltimore Sun

Source: The Baltimore Sun

There is a reason why the tradition of keeping your vote secret is often respected. Even if not so much anymore.

Nothing like this election year has brought up how political polarization divides people. Even in some cases end friendships and tear up families. Because people cannot help but taking politics personally.

Perhaps the rise of social media has something to do with the increased political polarization as people get more easily exposed to more extreme political views than those appearing on mainstream media.

But probably the most interesting part is when political commentators like Glenn Beck and Stephen Colbert, who have been blowing into this fire for years, coming on TV and wondering how we got here. Bill Maher just confessed that they should not have been so hard on Romney and McCain because their warnings are falling on deaf ears about Trump.

But it is not just the common people, comedians or fringe commentators who have been polarized so venomously.

All the judgments of the pundits and gurus on TV on why Hillary Clinton lost and why the hell America did it have been amusing, to say the least. It has been a whitelash, according to Van Jones. It is because the racist white America has reacted against the Obama Presidency because he is black. Because apparently, they were on a break during the Obama years. I thought only people like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh came up with such ideas.

Trump’s rise has clearly emboldened the Alt-Right, the white supremacists, and the neo-Nazis. Just like the victories of Narendra Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu have allowed the respective right wings to become more vocal and active. But is it fair to paint all of their voters with the same brushstroke?

But it is a great mystery indeed why so many voters opted for such an unconventional candidate, who has displayed such inappropriate and unacceptable behavior. And to some, even made a mockery of the democratic system in the United States and could continue to do so. Is Donald Trump scary? Yes, I agree. But I am also not surprised that he is backtracking on more of his extreme positions. We don’t even know if he really has any political ideology, to begin with, other than his love for self, money, and power.

There are, of course, sane liberal commentators out there who are trying to seriously figure out the causes of the Democratic loss. But even most of them have a blind spot for the smugness and overconfidence in the Democratic camp.

If someone voted for Trump, it does not automatically make them racist. Because apparently a lot of them voted for Obama for two straight terms in Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania? Obviously, they made a right choice back then.

Similarly, if someone voted for Hillary Clinton, it does not make them for corporate greed, elitism or corruption.

Alright, but either way, it sure makes them sexist. Because that beats racist every time.

Figured if something else went wrong?

Why did Hillary Clinton fail to win so many counties that Obama won, who was clearly more radical of the two in 2008? Why did she lose the working class men? Why did she lose the independents so clearly? Why did she lose Susan Sarandon? Even if she won the popular vote.

Why more Democrats voted for Trump in those swing states than the Republicans voting for her?

Few people see it this way, but perhaps the election of Donald Trump is the part of the same madness of hope and change that got Obama elected. And the rest of the protest vote going to Sanders, Johnson and Jill Stein. But is that all?

What if the campaign the Democrats ran was absolutely lame, negative, and broken? And probably was so terrible that you could not beat Trump with all the disasters during his campaign. No more Daisy ads working anymore. But guess what? Trump emerged the victor out of all that mess.

Then, of course, it is always the fault of the poor third party voters who are trying to fight the two party system so many people are critical of. The Gary Johnson protesters and the Jill Stein protesters. As if they are not allowed to have their own crazy, kooky political views. While I believe that these two tickets would have been an even bigger disaster than Trump in 2016, they offer a plenty of interesting ideas.

Gary Johnson got more than 4 million votes. I can hardly think of another Libertarian candidate ever doing a better job in the national polls. It’s not a spoiler. People are making a statement.

Finally, it is always the fault of the people who have not voted. The most irresponsible of all citizens. Oh, and guess what, Colin Kaepernick has no right to make a political statement by kneeling down during the national anthem before his NFL games.

So how about forcing these 45 million people to vote and to get them to attend a polling station or send in a ballot? I say they have a right to not vote. Isn’t that a vote in itself?

Yes, each and every one of them has a right to make a political statement, no matter what, as long as they are doing so in a non-violent manner. Even by not voting. Criticize them all you will, but never think about forcing a political statement down their throats.

Our complaints about democracy would make sense when we give people the freedom who to vote for without bullying and pressuring them. Without turning them into social pariahs. Because in this case, it is very easy to become who you criticize.

So how about leaving people alone for a change?

They just might listen to your crap then.

The post was originally published in The Nation blogs.
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Suicide

Artist: Philippe Bertrand (Source: Wikipedia)

What I cannot really understand is why people think that committing a suicide is a cowardly act, or even worse, something wrong. I really can’t understand it, despite trying. I simply can’t figure out what is so cowardly and wrong about it.

The people around me tell me that it is a cowardly act because supposedly suicidal people shy away from the harsh  realities of life and are not strong to face them. Well, on the contrary, I think that people who shy away from the harsh realities of life are those who are the happiest and call people who commit suicide cowardly and weak. I am pretty sure that these are the kind of people who pile up armies of newborn babies without the second thought.

Yes, I do agree that a person in charge of looking after a child of his or her own would be  irresponsible in committing suicide, but in that case I would really criminalize their act of procreation without responsibility and you could extend it to their act of suicide if you choose to.

Yes, suicide is criminalized. How pathetic is that. But according to some moral standards, such as the ones practiced by most of the post-colonial Pakistani and Indian societies, suicide or attempted suicide is actually considered a punishable crime.

Well, I can agree that suicide is not a healthy act in itself, I can even agree that it is a cowardly act, but how in the world is it a crime? It’s pretty frightening how moralists try to take control of everything. Now you cannot even commit suicide in peace?

I think committing suicide is everyone’s right.

Actually, they need to declare it a basic human right, so moralist and fascist governments and laws do not deprive people of this right. So that no government can lodge an FIR against anyone who survives a self-immolation attempt and sends them to jail instead of offering them therapy.

You can speak ill of them at their funerals if you want, that is your right. But frankly, this sort of moral highhandedness sickens me to the stomach. Also, the feeling of guilt that the families needlessly bear afterwards.

It is not that I want the society to radically change their view about it. I don’t want to judge them on the moral grounds that they thrive on. But I would like to see a suicide given its due respect.

To me, a suicide takes a lot of courage because it is not easy to resist life. Also, it is not easy to consciously end your own life, with a realization of what awaits in the immediate future. You can experience how it feels like by merely imagining for a moment that you are about to kill yourself.

While everyone who suffers from depression have suicidal tendencies every now and then, it is the mental pressures of depression rather than any “cowardice” that drives the suicidal people to such an extreme step.

Of course it is a fair deal that the society offers these people a lot of depression to deal with, or let me be a bit more lenient towards them, that life gives them a lot of depression to deal with as long as they suffer the abuse gladly. So how in the world is that a crime and how in the world is that cowardice? I say they endure all the pressure rather well because I am quite sure that a lot of people who ridicule and criminalize suicide would be horrified by the very mention of that feeling.

Only a few days earlier, there had been a lot of debate about school children and hostel students committing suicides within a span of three or four days. While the incidents shocked the entire nation, I would like to point out that the verdict from some of so-called intellectuals that the suicidal persons had stopped believing in the mercy of God was a completely preposterous diagnosis of the problem.

Like always, religious morality gets in the way of the much needed understanding of suicides. They don’t understand that even the most affluent people may commit suicides under depression and that is why some start making it a political issue. And the same suffocating and bullying morality that ridicules the people who commit suicide ensures that they are driven to find a moment of peace for themselves in this very manner.

Let’s just hope that there is no moral mob on the other side to deprive them of that peace.

But I envy the suicide and am very impressed by their courage.

We are the cowards.