During a visit to Chicago along the route of his recent North American tour, Sadhguru was asked about the upcoming United States presidential elections, which have received massive media coverage and incited intense debate around the world. Now is the time, Sadhguru explains, for the nation to stop investing in war and start investing in wellbeing.

Sadhguru: In Tamil, a southern Indian language, the word for democracy is “jana nayakam,” which means the rule of the people. In a democracy, you do not elect a ruler. You elect a representative who rules on your behalf.

A democracy will be functional only when every individual votes according to their individual choice. Your vote must be a considered vote, not a committed one. If you have a committed vote, that is a no-good democracy. Unfortunately, people in America have largely become two tribes. You are either a Democrat or a Republican because your grandfather and father was one. If you vote according to tribal loyalties, this will become a feudalistic system in democratic garb.

America should invest in wellbeing, not in war. Get this promise from them. Whoever is willing to do it, let them get the vote.

One important thing the people of this nation must do is to actively participate in the democratic process on a daily basis. Participation should not be restricted to casting your vote once in four years. There are sufficient instruments in a democracy for every citizen to participate in the making of a nation. Every responsible citizen must educate himself or herself about these mechanisms.

In today’s world, the United States has a special responsibility because it is in a position of leadership on the planet. For example, if Americans wear blue workman’s trousers, half the world wears workman’s trousers. If you tear it up, they tear it up! So, in a sense, whoever is elected as the President of the United States will be the leader of the world. This is a tremendous privilege, but there is also tremendous responsibility attached to this.

America is a nation that has grown and flourished on individual enterprise. Unfortunately, the nation has changed track and gotten into a mess all over the world. In the last fifteen years, the country has entered so many wars to the point where it has destroyed a few nations. I always looked back on World War I and World War II and wondered how people of the time allowed such atrocities to happen. But this is happening in our own times and we have allowed it to happen because we think it is not our business. But it will become our business when it comes to our doorstep. And that can happen anytime.

The days when you could conquer the world are over. That is a thought from the graveyards of the past. The future does not belong to those who want to conquer, it belongs to those who will include. Instead of sending 150,000 soldiers and spending a trillion dollars, if this nation sends out 150,000 engineers, doctors, business experts and various other specialists, the world would fall in love with you and anyway be yours at one-tenth the cost.

UNESCO has estimated that it would cost no more than 36 billion dollars a year to provide education to every child on the planet. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimated in 2008 that it would cost about 30 billion dollars a year to end hunger. If you made this happen, won’t the world love you? The amount of skill and the level of loyalty that will develop for the United States would be incredible. This nation has been built by importing skills from everywhere. So it is important you invest and cultivate skill everywhere in the world.

The only way the prosperity of this nation and every other nation can be assured is if everyone invests in each other’s wellbeing in different ways. We cannot afford to fight anymore. With the kind of weapons we have today, there will be no one left at the end of the fight. When our capabilities are such, the fundamental way of handling the world should move from investing in war to investing in wellbeing.

This is the time to change the language on the planet. This is the time to shift from war to wellbeing. America has this responsibility. And you, as citizens of the nation, must demand this off the candidates. You must ask them to make a commitment that they will not open a new theater of war. There is enough of that already. There are other ways to address problems. America should invest in wellbeing, not in war. Get this promise from them. Whoever is willing to do it, let them get the vote.

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