Monday, August 15, 2011

Indonesian patriotism: Recalling the middle path

Indonesian patriotism: Recalling the middle path

Al Makin, Yogyakarta | Mon, 08/15/2011 8:00 AM, Opinion, The Jakarta Post
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From the heyday of the nationalist movement in the early 20th century to the reformation era, Indonesian patriotism has been built on the spirit of compromise by seeking the middle way among various stances. Our leaders were adept at keeping the balances between differences.

These leaders gave priority to wisdom and sound judgment. In many debates among them, nobody absolutely won. Nor was anybody totally defeated.

This is Indonesia, belonging to no particular group or person. All parties have contributed to building this nation.

All citizens have the same right to live and to believe. All people can freely choose parties or leaders as they like. So can they be chosen. This is a free country. Hard work, however, is needed to establish this principle.

The unclear relationship between state and religion in Indonesia often causes confusion. Many wonder whether Indonesia is a secular or religious state. On many occasions, intellectuals and pundits have rejected both categories.

Whereas Sukarno and M. Natsir still differentiated the secular and religious state, later thinkers sought a compromise between the two terms.

The attempts can be seen in the works of Driyarkara, a prominent Indonesian philosopher, who underlines that Indonesia is neither a secular state (in which state and religious affairs are completely separated) nor a religious state (in which a certain religion dominates the law of the state).

Driyarkara explains that some ethics and norms in the Indonesian society are based on religious values. Religion is a vital element in Indonesian life. Religion cannot thus be simply discarded. Indonesian society and religion cannot be divorced. The relationship between state and religion, however, yields a different formula.

There are, of course, some ambiguities in the aspects where religion should play a role in the state and in what aspects religion should be kept away.



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