Election & Political Healing
by Dr.Levins T.C.Rajaratnem
Mar 23, 2010
After every election, Sri Lanka needs some time for political healing. Most candidates lead the way. Losing candidates concede, stressing the need to work together to unify the country. Most winning candidates are gracious in victory promising to be concerned about the interests of all the citizens they represent. Both usually call for an end to the hate-filled rhetoric. It is trite learning that not all who have been Ministers would win this election, some would be given a farewell by the voters and if they are fortunate they may become chairmen of corporations, or get diplomatic appointments much to the detriment of this country.

Unfortunately, the post-election political landscape for citizens seems littered with relationship casualties. Your candidate may have won the war, but you may be sleeping with one of the "enemy" who is not

very happy with the outcome! There are tattered nerves, unresolved anger and plenty of strained relationships.

Our leaders appeal to our values. One of the values that ought to win is the value of common civil courtesy in political discourse. It would show in the manners we bring to conversations in this difficult time for those who lose. Don't expect your courtesy to always be returned but know that your discourtesy will never be forgotten. You can help.

1. Start with showing others the empathy you would want them to show you. Disappointment goes with the district when you come up short in a heart-felt political campaign. Appreciate that the closer the race the deeper the frustration.

2. Be a gracious winner and avoid gloating. You have every right to enjoy your "party's" victory, but pretend you can be called for a foul for excessive celebrations that taunt the other team! Don't rub your victory in their wound; losers don't forget such displays.

3. Make sure you give candidates the respect they deserve. Be able to compliment candidates for their campaign effort and their willingness to go through this crazy ordeal. Compliment your colleagues, friends and family members for caring enough to actively campaign for their candidate. Active citizenship is what makes Sri Lanka strong. Apathy is the primary enemy of democracy.

4. Be focused more on the future than the past! Instead of getting stuck in the rearview mirror looking at things that can't be changed, do your part to keep everyone focused on making a difference out the front window! Let everyone save face by working to invent a better future...together!

5. Instead of distancing strained relationships look for ways to increase your positive contact with "political enemies." We are more than political beings--we work, we laugh, we play, we worship and we serve. Reach out to spend more positive time with "enemies" whenever you can. In the great relationship deposit system, political conflict is a withdrawal. Positive time together is a deposit. Keep a healthy balance in your valued relationship deposit accounts.

6. Look for a common cause you both support to work on together. Even with your political differences there are often some issues you share in common. Volunteer to work together to make a difference.

7. Point to the value of differences and the need for healthy political tension in keeping Sri Lanka strong. Instead of letting them disengage, challenge them to stay active in sharing their views. Even in defeat, an elected President remains everyone's President. Get them to write "their president" every month whether they voted for him or not. Our leaders deserve to know what their citizens think. The game of political influence is never finished. Whoever forms the Government, the President will be President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

8. Be ready to take distance from difficult conversations and give others time to heal alone. Forcing premature resolution may just push others further away. Have patience; time heals.

Finally, let's all remember that we are human first and last. Our disagreements should remain an argument among friends who share an unshaken belief in our great cause and the goodness of each other.