Ever since I was a little kid I’ve had a “thing” for big TV-nights. The first I remember was when I was 10 years old and was allowed to stay up really late to watch the opening ceremony of the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. The whole family was there with popcorn and snacks, part debating part shushing one another to make sure we didn’t miss anything. Since then there’s been countless times like it, covering anything from the Eurovision Song Contest to Presidential Elections.
Gradually, it’s evolved to being more than just about entertainment and mere curiosity about the world beyond the immediate horizon. It’s become a way to connect with hearts and minds across the world. A way to share something, even if we are in opposition on it. It’s not about agreeing. It’s about partaking in something far bigger than any group of individuals. About believing in togetherness.
Tonight is one such night. Perhaps the biggest of them all so far in my life – certainly the one I feel I understand and empathise with the most. There are those who feel it has nothing to do with them and so they cannot be bothered to be involved with it at all. No vote, no voice, no worry. And there are others who almost fanatically throw themselves into the midst of things, claiming that it isn’t the vote but the work itself that makes the necessary difference.
I am probably a little jaded when it comes to politics and the belief in what just one man can do amidst all the bureaucracy – even if he is the most powerful in the world. Democracy for all its potential is hardly a direct route to anything efficient. And I guess in that respect alone I am not sure it will make that much difference who’s in charge. There are no guarantees or certain conclusions either way. Only gambles. And that’s scary when it deals with our lives, our future and our children’s future.
Gambling sounds so reckless, so instead it tends to become a matter of causes. On the surface it may look like people vote for or against war. For or against economic sanctions. For or against abortion, religion, the environment and so on. But beneath it all it comes down to something much simpler and closer to home. Hope and fear. The hope for better days, safer lives and easier improvements. And the fear that it will be denied or impaired. THAT’s what it’s all about. And THAT’s what will make a difference. Not just now tonight in where those undecided X’s end up – if they even make it to the ballot boxes – but also in the time to come, when all this hoo-hah is over.
Instilling hope in people as opposed to fear is the greatest ability anyone can have, because hope makes people able and willing to reach – for themselves and for others. Hope doesn’t follow rules or logic. It makes people unaware of the odds and so they strive and achieve more freely. Whereas fear on the other hand makes them cling onto what they have, worried they might lose that too. Fear makes people individualists. And that’s hard on a world that depends so heavily on unity and team work.
Whoever wins tonight the world will look the same tomorrow and have the same problems it did yesterday. The only difference will be our attitudes. Yours and mine. Whether eligible to vote or not. We – and our perception – will be the difference. Today, tomorrow and for the years to come.