Go vote, dammit.

tl;dr: go vote, dammit.

I have talked with several friends over the past several weeks about voting in tomorrow’s federal election. Some of them have mentioned the following: “My vote won’t matter,” or even worse, “I don’t care.”

Excuse me?

We should be grateful that we live in a country with some semblance of a working democracy – one where we have a reasonable expectation that voting is not a potentially lethal adventure. This alone should be reason enough for you to consider voting. To abstain from voting, in light of the struggles citizens in other countries encounter to democratically vote their officials, smacks of self-entitlement: that one would be so actively selfish as to avoid contributing towards a common cause that ultimately affects our country as a whole.

But I believe there is another reason why you should vote: the legitimacy of your opinions in the political discourse. If you had the opportunity the vote but chose not to, your opinions in the political discourse are frankly worthless. It does not matter whether, a few months the road, you absolutely loathe the elected officials or wax lyrical about them.

What if, at this point, you still believe that your vote does not matter? Consider the following: what if everyone else held that same opinion? How incredibly intimidating it would be to have an very tiny minority of the portion of the population define who runs our country. Of course your vote matters. It counts as a tiebreaker in the closest of votes. It might count as affirmation of a lopsided result. Or it might serve as inspiration for a less popular candidate, knowing that he or she has a voter base to build upon for the following election. Your vote matters, regardless of circumstance, and to think otherwise would be myopic at best.

If you have no clue where to start or who to vote for, here are some useful links:

So tomorrow: go vote, dammit. There are few excuses when it comes to electing your own officials.

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The awakening of the leadership mindset: a reflection after U of T’s Student Leadership Conference

Last Friday, I did something I never imagined I would have done when I started my PhD studies. I attended a leadership conference – the Student Leadership Conference at the University of Toronto.

Life can throw twists and turns at you. In my case, it was reluctantly being thrust into the limelight as a Co-President for the Immunology Graduate Students Association (IGSA) last year. Yes, leadership can be stressful, but through the appropriate lens, leadership becomes genuinely fun and rewarding. It is probably safe to say that the experience has irreversibly changed me.

As a result of being IGSA’s former Co-President, an opportunity arose for me to attend this conference. Frankly, I had no clue what to expect going into it. What lesson, skills, and knowledge could I possibly gain from attending a leadership conference?

  • Anyone can lead.
  • By extension, there are different styles of leaders.
  • Finally, what irks you about the state of our world today? What issues do you wish to tackle and how will you commit to approaching them?

And all of a sudden, I realized that I do in fact genuinely care about important issues:

There are numerous other issues around our world begging for solutions, such as the gun culture in the United States and the growing inequality gap. But it is also comforting to know that there are talented individuals who are capable in leading the charge on crafting these solutions – individuals with different perspectives who I have had the enormous pleasure of meeting on Friday.

At this juncture, this will probably not be the last you will hear of me, but there are important priorities to deal with at this time, especially writing and defending my PhD thesis. My mind – political and otherwise – has been awoken. Perhaps this marks the beginning of an exciting journey – just don’t expect me to be as soft-spoken as I often am going forwards.