Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The tale of an ungrateful nation called Indonesia

The tale of an ungrateful nation called Indonesia

Al Makin, Jakarta | Wed, 02/09/2011 10:28 AM | Opinion, The Jakarta Post
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The recent assault on Ahmadiyah followers, for whatever reason, shows that this society has no gratitude towards the minority religious group that, together with other religious and ethnic groups, contributed to the building of this nation. Please keep in mind that a “healthy society” should respect all the elements that have collectively formed and sustained the existence of this country.

As understood in social sciences and proven by history, a society is created by diverse elements that are connected to each other.

Like a glass, society is a system with a vulnerable structure, easily broken. Like a net, all elements collectively sustain the whole. If one thread is damaged, the whole system is in peril.

Some members of Ahmadiyah, three of whom were killed, were stabbed. Their wounds are felt by all Indonesians.

The nation is mourning the victims. The grief is now engraved on Indonesia’s history and will continue indefinitely. The failures and the successes in appreciating the existence and role of certain groups, ethnicities, religions, sects or any other kinds of groups within this society will determine the longevity of this nation.

If minority religious groups such as Ahmadiyah, a Christian sect or the Lia Eden community are repeatedly harassed, whereas other groups whose belief and faith are considered in line with those of the majority are protected, there is no guarantee that we ourselves will not be considered deviants who, sooner or later, will be persecuted.

Protecting a vulnerable group means protecting ourselves. Any persecution on the grounds of faith, ethnicity, religion or race must thus be stopped.

The recent attack on an Ahmadiyah group in Banten must be condemned. Blame should not be directed merely at those who specifically executed the attack, i.e. hardliners motivated by their “own truth claims” or provocateurs who fired up the emotions of villagers.

The local authority and the central government are together responsible for failing to protecting their own citizens.


Monday, February 07, 2011

Crop circles: Old and new myths in the making

Crop circles: Old and new myths in the making

Al Makin, Yogyakarta | Fri, 02/04/2011 10:23 AM | Opinion, The Jakarta Post
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Yogyakarta, with a population diverse in ethnicities, faiths, and cultures, is a miniature Indonesia. You may also argue that other cities feature the same characteristics as those of Yogyakarta.

Accepted. Whereas people come to Jakarta, and perhaps also to Surabaya, Medan and other cities, to seek jobs or pursue careers, Yogyakarta’s reputation rests in its excellent universities. But do not misunderstand what Yogyakarta really is.

Yogyakarta is a supernatural city. Likewise, Indonesia is not a real country, but a paranormal entity. Without understanding magic, myth and the supernatural, you will never understand Yogyakarta or Indonesia.

This sultanate city, like Indonesia, is filled with rumors, gossip and mythologies. People do not see reality directly as it is. Rather, they imagine things beyond reality. The truth is not what you see, but what you can imagine.

The volcanic eruption of Mount Merapi, which devastated some parts of northern Yogyakarta, is understood not merely as a natural phenomena. There is belief that the angry spiritual world sparked Merapi’s fury. Many pinpoint that the sinful conduct of people caused the punishment which befell Yogyakarta.

Similarly, Gayus is perceived not just as a man who was sentenced to seven years in prison due to his role in tax fraud. People believe that bigger fish, or players even more clever than Gayus were at fault.

The case of Gayus is not what it appears. There are more untold true stories behind the stories revealed by the media.

People do not see things as they seem. They imagine something much more intricate. The figure of Gayus becomes a myth, sensationalized by tales about how he escaped from jail and flew to Bali, Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore. Like it or not, people theorize to what extent they can imagine.

Gayus has already become a myth.

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