It's only once every five years, so it always amazes me how many people do not vote. In some countries, such as New Zealand for example, it is the law. You must vote.
I feel that in a democratic country, if you have the right to vote then you should vote. I would like to see it be made a legal requirement in the UK too. Some cynics say that will never happen because at a certain level some of the parties actually prefer the lower turnout as it seems to favour them.
Countries have fought hard to have the right to vote, and women in particular have fought even harder.
So, as you may guess, today I exercised my right and voted.
I won't say for whom I voted, as I believe that is my own private business. For the past several weeks I have been bombarded by election programs on TV, party political broadcasts, debates, and I've been drowning in fliers and leaflets. Most people however had probably already decided who they were going to vote for before it all started, and to some degree the saturation of everything political can have a negative effect. I for one will be glad when it's all over.
Over the past decades I've never really seen how the changes in government have affected me directly. I'm sure they have to some degree, but I've just never seen it in real terms. People seem to put so much weight on the outcome of the elections, but at the end of the day, behind the political leader puppets, it's the same civil servants pulling their strings.
I tried not to be sucked in and watch any of the debates, but I did catch part of one. It amazed me how aggressive the audience were in their questioning of the participants, raising their voices and demanding what they wanted from these political leaders. When they didn't get the answers they wanted they behaved like small children who had been refused a sweetie in the candy store.
Yes, some big businesses, such as the banks, have landed us right in it, but watching this programme I couldn't help thinking that a lot of the problems we are facing right now are a result of inaction by ourselves to accept that times are hard, and we need to pull together for the greater good, not continue to be selfish in what we want just for ourselves. But we expect the government, regardless of who is in power, who are left to pick up the pieces, bail out businesses, and find the money to make it all right again. But we have a part to play, and I couldn't help feeling this audience had their heads stuck in the sand.
Which brings me to mention something I heard spoken to a large audience back in 2004. I was privileged at that time to be HH the Dalai Lama's film maker for his official visit to Scotland. He was addressing a sold out crowd at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh, and one of the subjects was, bringing about change for the better. He told everyone there that if we want change, then to rely on government, United Nations or such, is unrealistic.
For change to happen, he said, we must turn to ourselves.
As I write this the counting has begun of the votes cast. Whoever is the Prime Minister for the next five years, they can be sure of one thing; they're going to get a hard time, and in five years people will once again blame them for what they didn't get.
When will we learn and listen to the advice of men wiser than us all.