The political drama that is unfolding as election approaches is fascinating. The question of who will get the party ticket and the hullabaloo associated with it was also intriguing. But with the fascination and the intrigue also comes concern. The concern is about the choice of our candidates and our attitude towards election. People do not seem to realise how much power our votes holds in bringing about changes that we want. Election is the opportunity where we make use of our right and power as people to express what we want and to choose our representatives. However, we all know that, we have been squandering that right and power for a mere sum. We get paid to vote for the party that offers money without realising the plunder we make. By voting for money we are selling off our future. By allowing ourselves to be bought, we allow the candidates to take us for granted. We allow them to take advantage of us by freeing themselves from their responsibilities towards us when they get elected because they have already paid us for our vote. But allowing ourselves to be bought with money is also an indication of how election and candidates are seen by the common people.
There is some element of resistance, protest and rejection of the whole election process. People seems to have come to the conclusion or idea that election day is the only day they can gain or get some benefits . They know that the candidates for whom they voted will forget them soon. They know who will be benefited and therefore sees the exercising of their power and right as futile and without hope. The representatives of the people has always turned out to be the representatives of a selected few. Not realising that in this process, it is We, the collective community who stands to lose as we barter for short term and personal benefits over long term and community benefits.
The choice of candidates we select and elect in this upcoming election has become more important than ever before. We are faced with many issues that poses a big threat to our identity, our rights, our land, our aspiration and our existence. We are not getting the fair share of development funds. We are deprived of opportunities meant for us. For this, we need leaders who can articulate the issues and stands up, speak and fight for it. At the moment, the general impression of the people is that our representatives so far has been ineffective, voiceless and powerless such that the state assembly was able to pass bills and the government was able to take decisions that goes against the rights and interest of the tribal. The time is such that we can’t afford anymore to elect people who will be just sitting ducks. This urgent concern should be noted by all irrespective of who they are and which party they belong because we are here talking about our future. We should also look out for candidates who can work for all of us not just for a particular village, clan, family or individuals. It is high time that we think and work for the common good. The decision makers should be very careful in endorsing their candidates. What do we stand to gain by electing candidates just on the basis of powerful back up but is not able to have any impact of being in the position he stood for.
With the general concerns being expressed above, let me draw upon some biblical insights through which an appeal is made to the candidates. There is something very important that the candidates can learn from the life of King Solomon who is considered to be the greatest king of Israel. Solomon had a very good and impressive beginning as a king when he asked God for an understanding mind or wisdom to govern his people. Solomon is usually praised for this humble wish and desire which has inspired and impressed many of us. Just like Solomon, most of the candidates in the election also starts their campaign with impressive speeches and manifestos. They speak about serving the people and doing all the right things.
But with time, Solomon forgot his wish for an understanding mind and began to focus more on wealth and honour. He became so greedy for honor and wealth that he did not even spared his own people. He began to impose heavy taxes, used them as slaves and gave away their lands as trade prices. His mistreatment, neglect and biased attitude towards his own people laid the seed for the division of the United Kingdom of Israel which ultimately took place after his death. As pointed out above, when God asked Solomon to wish for anything, he choose an understanding mind. The phrase, “understanding mind” is more closely translated as a “listening heart” which means the capacity for attentiveness to the needs, hopes and expectations of the people especially for the poor and the powerless. This was one important thing he needed as a king to rule the nation and it’s people. When Solomon asked for the understanding mind he probably had in mind Pharaoh who had a “hard heart” which is the inability to care for or notice or take seriously those before him. The later life story of Solomon does not exhibit much of the wisdom he had asked for. As he accumulated more and more wealth and honor, the understanding mind faded away in the background and the listening heart became more and more hard that it no longer listened. Solomon enjoyed wealth and riches at the cost of his people. He made use of the God given wisdom and the opportunity not for the service of the people but for his own selfish gain.
This sad turn in the life of Solomon will not be something shocking nor something new for us as we are accustomed to it. People with power entrusted with the responsibility of the people often goes the Solomon’s way. In the past, our candidates have asked for our support promising many things in return. Trusting them, we supported and gave our votes but all in vain. It would not be wrong to say that the opportunity of being our representatives as MLA became a gateway to wealth and honor for them. The lesson we can learn from King Solomon is that the true wisdom of a leader lies in having the “listening heart.” Leadership and the power that comes along with it is for service and not for privilege. As the representative of the people, he or she is always accountable to the people. Moreover, as a Christian, he or she is also accountable to God who always look for a leader that cares and stands for the people. Our candidates for this upcoming election also needs a “listening heart.” We don’t want selfish leaders anymore. Give us back the hope we have lost. Help us realise our dreams of a better tomorrow. Give us a leader we can trust and support. We do not want any other kind of leader. These should be our demand because it is our right. We have the power to make this hope of a leader with a “listening heart” a reality. This time, WE, the people also must say NO when lured with money. Together, let’s change and build a better tomorrow.