emotions, unlike politics, is not a bad word

“I think the whole idea of elections is that you think carefully about long-term future for Singapore, and whatever emotions that are aroused during that period, calm down, and detach yourself, think carefully before you vote.”  – Lee Hsien Loong

Lee Hsien Loong wants you to detach yourself from emotions when voting at the next elections.

I disagree with him.

Again.

In the fascinating book, How We Decide, Jonah Lehrer, a neuroscientist takes on the popular misconception that there is “a clear distinction between thinking and feeling”.  He explains:

“For too long, people have disparaged the emotional brain, blaming our feelings for all of our mistakes. The truth is far more interesting. What we discover when we look at the brain is that the horses (emotions) and the charioteer (reason) depend upon each other. If it weren’t for our emotions, reason wouldn’t exist at all.”

The book is full of great stories based on real life cases. One of them is about Elliot, who led a very normal life until he went for an operation to remove a tumor from his brain. While he tested in the normal range for his intellect after the operation, he was suddenly incapable of making decisions, from what pen to use to what to eat for lunch. It turned out that the operation affected his ability to feel. His family and friends observed no emotion in him and his sweat glands did not respond as normal people would in controlled experiments.

Lehrer argues:

“… emotions are a crucial part of the decision-making process. When we are cut off from our feelings, the most banal decisions became impossible. A brain that can’t feel can’t make up its mind.”

Lee Hsien Loong is right about one thing. He’s implying that if you just rely on your emotions alone, you will not vote for the PAP. In other words, you have the right to be pissed, distrustful and maybe even a little hateful of the People’s Action Party.

This is not what I’m trying to argue though. At least not here. As Lehrer has point out, you make decisions based on both feelings and reason, they are never used in isolation.

Much has been written about the merits and faults of the PAP.  Being a lesser writer, I want to encourage you dear reader, to think about how you feel about the PAP instead.

Do you feel that the PAP is an open and honest government?

Do you feel that the path we’re on is sustainable and whether we’re measuring the right things in determining success?

Do you feel that we live out of hope and passion or do we live out of fear?

I ask only one thing of you dear reader – that when you go to the ballot box, bring along your beating, burning heart; do not be ashamed of it and use it wisely.

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