THE CULTURAL TIGHTROPE
A rite of PASSAGE
we at least have one political voice in the household “I DON’T NEED A LECTURE ON DEMOCRACY AND HOW IT WORKS”
So another election in which I am unable to participate comes and goes. I know that I and other contributors to this magazine have voiced our frustration in the past about not being able to vote in a country we have made our homes for the past twenty plus years, but to summarise for those who are unaware of the situation, as residents we are allowed to vote in local elections but we would need to change our nationality to vote in regional and state elections. In my case, this is getting harder rather than easier to accept as I get older, mainly due to the fact of feeling increasingly politically impotent when I want to add my grain of sand to the pile, as it were.
However, there was one huge difference with this election, and that is the fact that, having turned eighteen, my son is now old enough to vote. And that means we at least have one political voice in the household. But that is where the dilemma comes in. He’s eighteen and therefore old and mature enough to cast his vote however he sees fit, but as his politically neutered dad, I felt some desire to influence his decision and have him vote as I would, thereby ensuring I do have a vote after all. An ethical dilemma, I think you will agree. Or maybe you won’t – maybe you think I was being manipulative even considering appropriating his vote, or the opposite, that I should obviously influence his vote, it’s my right or even duty as the patriarch of the family. Whatever you think, I know what I was thinking when he asked me my opinion on who to vote for. And, as always for an Aquarian whose life mission it is to pour forth the waters of knowledge (see Astrology 101), that was education: this was my chance to help my son understand the workings of democracy and his role in that.
Now, as the long-suffering offspring of an Aquarian father, my son is more than used to asking for a simple piece of information and receiving an encyclopaedic response he really didn’t want, so it didn’t take long for him to stop me in my tracks thus: “Dad, I just want to know who you would vote for and what you think about the various parties, I don’t need a lecture on democracy and how it works”. Duly chastised, I proceeded to outline my political understanding of the various parties and candidates, until the inevitable question came: “And who would you vote for?” Just as I was about to launch upon a long and no doubt tiresome explanation about him not being obliged to vote in the same way I would, he added, “Before you start, don’t worry, I’m not asking because I feel obliged to vote as you would, I’d just like to know”. So I quickly refocused my response and told him.
At the end of it all, as we were walking back from the polling station together – I wanted to accompany him on his first vote, despite my own political incapacity – I smiled to myself as I contemplated the fact that the boy who had listened to his dad blathering on at him for so many years was now a man with fully-fledged opinions, and a vote, of his own.