To all my Indonesian brothers and sisters;
If you can read this article in English and understand it without any problem, chances are you’ve got a good education, good enough to communicate in a foreign language, or you’re open-minded, open-minded enough to know that being able to speak English doesn’t make you less patriotic.
In fact, this whole article is about patriotism. Yes, Indonesia. I’m looking at you. Sharply. And the smart people of Indonesia, you too. I want to say this: We failed our country, didn’t we?
My husband and I just came back from Indonesia a couple days ago. I was pretty hopeful to see the new Indonesia, since we have our new president and a new set of parliaments. But Indonesia is the same, even backward. I know there are many people, just like me, put their hopes up along with the new Jokowi administration. I also understand change doesn’t happen over night. But looking at the situation in my country, I wondered if change ever going to happen. Nothing’s wrong with the new elected President. He’s a man of integrity and very down-to-earth. But putting him in a society who refused to change is like putting world’s best driver in a broken car: it doesn’t matter. It’s not going to work.
I feel so saddened. I feel frustrated. Our society, our people, my people, your people, we don’t understand even the very basic rules: You put the trash in a trashcan. If you can’t find a trashcan, it’s not going to hurt you to carry your trash until you find one. You follow the way the traffic goes, you don’t drive your motorbike in the opposite direction when everyone goes one way. You don’t drive your motorbike at the sidewalk – that’s not for motorbikes, but I’m sure it’s very hard to understand. It’s rocket science. And if you got killed in an accident as a result of your moronic act, at least we finally come to understand that stupidity literally kills. Although in some place there is no written rule, you don’t smoke in a public restaurant or in a public space: there are babies, kids, and pregnant women there. Walking a little bit further from a public space to smoke is better than having everyone inhales your selfishness. You form a line by going to the back of a person in front of you or if you happen to be the first person there, stand in the line behind the counter. No, you don’t form a line by standing on the left or right of the first person, that will only create anger since it’s never clear who gets there earlier than who. And no, being an hour late is not funny anymore. It’s pathetic.
I see too many Indonesians don’t understand (or understand but refuse to do) those basic rules, and yet we dream of a new Indonesia: a free-corruption country. Tell me how do we stop corruption at a national level when we can’t even stop ourselves from smoking in front of kids? How do we stop corruption when we can’t even stop throwing trash out the street from the windows of our expensive cars? How do we stop corruption when we can’t even stop people who drive the opposite way? There is a reason why Indonesia is called a developing country: because our character is still being developed. We can put someone as honest as Mahatma Gandhi to be the president of Indonesia, but if we keep our character the way it is right now, not even Gandhi can make a change. Indonesia, I say this out of love. Let’s not fool ourselves. We’re a broken car.
We boast ourselves as a religious country, a country that believe in God and acknowledge the existence of different religions. We’re really committed in doing our religions rules: if you’re Islam, you’d be busy praying 5 times a day and suggesting the usage of hijab to the females. If you’re Christian, you’d be busy deciding which fancy church you can go to and check-in on Facebook, and even busier deciding which music the church should have on. Now tell me, if our religion is so great, why doesn’t it reflect in the country’s condition? If we pray to God as hard as 5 times a day, why the kindness of the God we worship does not illuminate the country? What do we do wrong here, my Indonesia? How do we go wrong?
I remember a tweet written by Rizki Ridyasmara, the author of The Jacatra Secret. He tweeted, “Indonesia needs a dictator who means well for the country.” If we can’t go soft anymore, let’s go hard. Let’s put on ourselves a punishment, a fine, or a jail time if we break the rules. Let’s say it’s wrong when it’s wrong and it’s right when it’s right. Justice should serve any religion at any status. For a sensitive example, if a Batak Christian got caught stealing, I, myself, as a Batak Christian should say it is wrong.
We say we refuse any kind of western influence because it’s not aligned with our values. I tell you what. People in the western side of the world, they don’t need a rule to line up. They don’t need a punishment so that they would throw their trash in a trashcan. And they don’t smoke in public, with or without a sign telling them to do so. As much as you hate to hear this, maybe, just maybe, we do need western influence. If their society understands the basic rules as if it is installed in them, maybe, just maybe, there are one or two values we can learn from.
And if you still understand the content of this article up to this point, my friend, it has been our responsibility to educate the country. So far we fail. But as long as there’s still tomorrow, there is still hope, and I’ll keep trying through the articles that I write here or at IndonesiaMengglobal.com. Take your part. Education is one way to help our people from this mentality for education is the most powerful weapon to change ourselves, the most powerful weapon to change your family, the most powerful weapon to change the society, the most powerful weapon to change Indonesia.
Now let’s hope that our people actually want to be helped.
I’ll say a prayer for us tonight, Indonesia. God bless.