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[Read directly on The Jakarta Post.]

by Jennie M. Xue and MJ Rahardjo, Jakarta

Which candidate should we vote for in the upcoming presidential election? Every voter has his or her own favorite. However, oftentimes the person we see in public has been fabricated and coached in such a way as to make voters fall in love with them.

Such polished images show that a political consultant’s job is well done. But, how can we figure out which among them is a genuine leader?

First things first, remember that everyone has a past. Never forget how they performed years ago. Don’t just believe that someone has changed for the better, if he or she has performed cruel human rights abuses or corruption in the past. We are voting for a president, not for the head of a class.

Remember also that fewer than 2 percent of human beings in the world have ever killed another human being. Thus, we should vote for one among the 98 percent of peace-loving individuals for our leader as opposed to those with a “killing instinct”.

Forget about political power that is born of coercion, violence and killing, as sociologist Max Weber posited. It is time to turn things around and use the non-killing philosophy promoted by Prof. Glenn D. Paige. Power based on peace and love is doable.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of The Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) taught that the best power comes from love, not from fear. So, Niccolo Macchiavelli’s philosophy should be substituted as well. Fear is not the source of power; it is the source of a “false” type of power. The greatest power comes from compassion and respect toward all human beings.

Second, understand one’s demeanor. Is the candidate a genuinely intellectual individual or someone who simply wants to appear like one? What were his policies when he worked in a different capacity? Check his track record.

He might not look the sharpest but he must embody a heroic leadership, meaning that his leadership principles should be based upon people’s best interests. Be careful with “populist jargon”, for these can be misleading. Someone who says that he loves the people does not necessarily mean he truly cares for them. If he does care for the people, can he turn his vision into reality?

Third, how about his family relationships? Does he have more than one wife? And does he keep mistresses? A leader must be able to set an example of loyalty and fidelity toward his own family, as this will reflect his loyalty to his country and his people. We must vote for a candidate with high morality.

It is as simple as this: If he can manage his family well and be faithful to his wife and children, then he has the good will to do the best for his family. BJ Habibie and his late wife, Ainun, was an exemplary Indonesian couple. Their love had been tested, they were mutually respectful toward each other and they loved each other until the day she died. Fidelity is also an indication of one’s morality.

Fourth, does he adopt positivity in life? Does he take good care of his health? Does he respect minorities? He must be more than a good friend. He must be more than a good father figure. He must be an exemplary individual whose words and actions are in alignment. This means that he does what he says, and he says what he does. He is more than just an impressive orator. He must be a proven executor.

Indonesia is a secular democratic country by law. Respect toward minorities is a must. One can be judged on one’s words and actions, in addition to policies. Indonesia comprises people with a variety of backgrounds: socioeconomic-political status, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, sub-ethnicity and other 
preferences.

Humanity must be respected at the highest level, as that is the essence of democracy. Vote for the person who deserves our votes. Our future is in our hands.[]

Jennie M. Xue was formerly known as Jennie S. Bev, an author and columnist based in Northern California. MJ Rahardjo is an essayist, columnist and the founder of The Free Thinking Institute of Indonesia.

The Jakarta Post, March 22, 2014

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