That’s not how you preserve traditions (and treat your own family)

As an Indonesian, I rarely watch Indonesian films voluntarily. So, the fact that I decided to watch this newly-released feature is a rarity.

Ngeri-Ngeri Sedap (I still don’t know how to translate the title) tells the story of a fractured Batak family; the parents struggle to persuade their university-educated adult sons return home after years. They cannot stand their cold, headstrong father who disapprove of their life decisions.

One of them wants to marry a woman from another ethnic group, one becomes a TV comedian instead of a law practitioner and the youngest child isn’t interested returning home for good, even though tradition calls for it.

Desperate, the parents pretend they are going to divorce, which would compel the sons to return home and talk their mom and dad out of it. The plan works. But, the moment they saw their father, the atmosphere immediately thickens and it will get even worse from here.

The film is not that great, execution wise. The dialogues are full of info dumps, the cinematography fails to capture the beauty of rural North Sumatra (I have visited Lake Toba and I know how ethereally beautiful it is), the crying scene is unintentionally funny, the emotions could have been more intense and the conflict resolves a bit too quickly.

But, the film does have some gems in it.

While I cannot verify the authenticity of the Batak life depiction as I am not a Batak, I adore how it does not use a regional and/or ethnic identity as a punchline or a token, as the common practice in a country where media productions mostly centered in one snobby, cosmopolitan city.

I also love that it is written and directed by an actual Batak filmmaker and most of the main cast members are of Batak lineage; the ones who aren’t grew up surrounded by Batak people. It is refreshing how a film about a certain culture is made by people who have experiences with it.

But, that’s not even the best part: it is also a giant middle finger to “traditional” parenting and toxic loyalty to family.

The father loves accusing his sons of selfishness, even though he is the one who makes everything about himself. The sons always look uneasy and awkward in his presence. The comedian son loves making spiteful comments, even saying that his family is a joke, something to be laugh at. Even though the mother is just as traditional, she openly disapproves how her husband behaves.

It becomes so toxic, not only his sons depart angrily, his wife ends up wanting to divorce for real and the daughter – I forgot to mention the family has a daughter – leaves with her as well.

It also has unexpected commentaries about gender.

When the daughter asked why her brothers seem awkward with each other, the eldest son said their father was always aloof towards his sons, hence their inability to be warm towards other men.

She is also a testament that girls and women often have to sacrifice the most in a patriarchal society. She had to break a romantic relationship because the man was a non-Batak and she gave up her dream as a chef – her cooking talent has been shown from the very beginning – because the father thinks it is not a real job.

She could have easily rebelled. But, if she does, she would severe ties with her elderly parents and no one would take care of them.

The grandma – the father’s mother – is unbelievably wise. She gently points out that different children require different parenting style. You shouldn’t raise university-educated children like you raise ones who didn’t finish middle school, she says.

Okay, maybe not that wise. Surely, you deserve your parents’ warmth regardless of your educational level; I don’t see how dropping out of school makes you less of a human being with feelings.

But, as problematic as her advice is, her point about there is no one correct way to raise children still stands.

The daughter and grandma also represent the gender situation in Indonesia. While the film barely focuses on either character, they add depth to the story. Men are at the forefront with women supporting them behind the scenes.

What I love about the ending is the father finally and sincerely realises his mistakes and tries to amend his mistakes.

He makes a surprise appearance at his comedian son’s TV show which is shot in Jakarta, asserting he is not proud of his son’s success. Why? Because it is his son’s, not his. He has no right to take credit for it.

He visits his other son’s non-Batak lover in West Java and, much to his surprise, she is interested in learning Batak traditions. As a rural dweller, he seems unaware that many urban Indonesians have experiences traversing different cultures; dealing with other regional Indonesian cultures is a mundane task for them.

His visits his youngest son’s boss in Jogjakarta and he learns that his son helps the local farmers – a vulnerable group of people – increasing their agricultural yield, practically making their lives better.

After he gains his sons’ sincere forgiveness (which is what their mother desires), the family reunites.

I love how the film asserts that a family’s unity cannot be achieved unless every member – including the parents – makes their best efforts. In this case, the family reunites after the father finally leaves his bubble, both in literal and figurative sense.

Literally as in he leaves his rural homeland and travels to three different provinces, none of which are in Sumatra. Figuratively as in he leaves the world where views like his are king and enter one with greater diversity of thoughts.

I also love how the film is not anti-tradition. The traditional festival is depicted respectfully (or so it seems), the sons still love Batak food and the soundtracks feature Batak-language songs.

It is not about whether we should preserve traditions or not, it is more about HOW we do it. It is a cautionary tale of how tactlessness will tear your family apart and putting your beloved heritage in even greater risk of extinction.

And, in a rare moment, I feel proud of my fellow countrymen. I don’t know what the haters have to say about the film. But, I have seen so many positive comments online; many feel their negative experiences with traditional parents and/or husbands are validated.

I am glad such Indonesian film exists.

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A tangent about religion:

Indonesia is a place where religiosity is held with high regards, regardless of one’s ethnic and religious backgrounds. The film not-so-subtly hints at that fact.

The family’s house has a quite a few Christian-themed ornaments (if I can call them that), like the cross and pictures of Jesus Christ. There is a moment of brief close-up on a knitted(?) The Last Supper picture and the parents’ bed are often filmed using wide shot, ensuring the overhead cross is seen as well.

They also respect the local pastor. The father wants to impress him by putting a pristine mask on his marriage. The sons also ask him to discourage their parents from divorcing, even though his advice is the same as theirs.

Oh, and in the beginning of the film, one of the sons explicitly say, “we are Christians”.

While religion is not focused on, the film makes sure we don’t forget about its existence.

I wonder how much of the conservative attitude is attributed to their religious beliefs.

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What I, a Sunni Muslim, think of the seemingly endless Catholic Church atrocities

Obviously, to say they are an affront to mankind is an understatement. Unless you are a special kind of human being, you don’t need me to realise that. But, there is something which many people don’t seem to notice: it is also a case of giant missed opportunity with horrendous consequences.

Let me go on a tangent first.

The Catholic Church is not just a religious establishment, it is also a highly centralised organisation of clergymen, complete with ranks and uniform admittance processes. Meanwhile, Sunni Islam – the disproportionately dominant denomination – is a highly decentralised religion; we don’t have our own equivalent of the pope and bishops and – in some countries, at least – becoming clerics do not require formal certifications and we are allowed to choose imams and/or Islamic institutions that suit us.

To sum it up, Roman Catholic church is packed with global and official interconnectivity. It is comparable to a unitary country with strong central government. The Sunni one……. well….. I don’t know how to describe it eloquently.

If I have to describe the Sunni world, it is like a country with barely functioning central government, allowing millions of regional authorities to reign over. Each of those regional authority has a varying level of authoritativeness and varying size of jurisdictions…… and many, if not all, of those jurisdictions overlap with each other. Not to mention the citizens are of diverse cultural, racial and political backgrounds – which may or may not greatly influence their religious identities – and they have varying level of experiences with diversity.

As a Sunni myself, I have mixed feelings about this.

On one hand, it feels nice there is no stranger in a faraway land formally dictating my Muslimness. But, on the other hand, it makes tackling religious extremism extremely difficult.

Obviously, that’s not an excuse to do nothing. If you see something, the least you can do is to say something. But, people should realise that the unrelenting convolutedness means tackling Sunni extremism is not as easy as flipping a table.

Now, about this blogpost’s title…

It has always been crystal clear the church is powerful. It has the ability to micromanage the characters and behaviours of every single person within its ranks. While nothing can be 100% effective, it could have easily reduced the abuses to a handful of rare and isolated cases.

Instead, it chooses the complete opposite path.

It consciously protects the many sexual predators within its ranks by not reporting them to the local authorities, consequentially turning Roman Catholic clergyman into a dream profession for sexual predators.

It consciously let the Magdalene laundries to freely abused the “fallen women” for many years and, to this day, the Catholic orders involved still refuse to take responsibility, unrepentantly painting themselves as heroes.

It consciously let some members of its ranks to support Canada’s cultural genocide against the indigenous people by participating in some of the residential schools.

Don’t even forget about the goddamn inquisition.

I am not going to pretend overseeing one of the world’s biggest organisations is easy peasy. I am also not going to pretend the church never does anything noble; I mean, Catholic schools – in some countries, at least – are known for their high quality, a fact which even many Muslims wholeheartedly acknowledge.

But, it is infuriating how an institution chose to not inoculate itself against evil despite having the enormous power to do so, consequentially letting itself becoming a global and historical super spreader of human depravities.

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I also have to exclude the Shia Islam – the second biggest denomination – from this conversation because not only Shia extremism is far less globally consequential, I also know almost nothing about Shia islam. I have heard that Shia leadership is more centralised. But, I don’t know to what extent and I don’t know if it differs from one sub-denomination to another.

Don’t even get started on the even smaller denominations. I don’t know if extremism is even prevalent in any of them.

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Smitten by neutrality

Recently, Youtube had been suggesting a video how American news used to be less biased, made by Youtuber Ryan Chapman.

Inexplicably, I was hesitant to click despite my interest in such topic; for some reasons, I had a bad feeling about the video. But, after a few days, I set aside my judgement and clicked.

He elaborated on how olden days American journalists tried their best to be unbiased by avoiding emotionally-charged language and speaking tone. He also acknowledged that, while the practice was almost universally upheld, there were rare exceptions.

At a glance, it sounds like a flawless content. He methodically and neutrally explained the situation while also acknowledging the nuances. But, it becomes infuriating when his conclusion is that neutral presentation is the only thing it takes to be unbiased.

Yes, restraining our presentation style does encourage us taking heed of our own beliefs. But, before we make the reports, we still have to choose which stories to cover and which angles to use. In case you don’t notice, this process is even more prone to human biases.

Correct me if I am wrong. But, there is no formula for choosing the stories and the angles; we have to be reliant on our own judgements. And we know damn well that even the most intelligent and well-intentioned individuals can still have a lapse in judgements.

He also claims that neutral presentation means the audience won’t know what your and/or your bosses’ stances are. It is true…. to an extent. If they only observe your reports individually, no one would be able to guess. But, if they start compiling your works side by side, observant people would start noticing what kind of stories and angles you prefer to cover; the patterns would emerge.

For the sake of the argument, let’s assume there is an Indonesia-based international news outlet, filled with Indonesian-Muslim journalists, owned by an Indonesian-Muslim (I am one myself, for your information). Now, imagine it extensively covers many cases of bigotry – especially anti-Muslim one – which occur in western countries. They interview only the victims, never interview the anti-bigotry white Christian westerners

Meanwhile, it barely reports cases of Islamic extremism and racism in Indonesia. When it does, it only reports ones that attract international attention and, instead of interviewing the victims, it interviews the anti-bigotry Indonesian Muslims of indigenous lineage.

No matter how neutral the journalists’ language and speaking tone are, it is still obvious what kind of biases they and/or their bosses possess. They want to portray the west as a hotbed of bigotry, where virtually every white Christian is hateful, neo-nazi-wannabe. They want to portray Indonesia as a place where bigotry is nothing but a handful of isolated incidents which we shouldn’t be obsessed about.

We need to realise that the cultural aspects of human lives are fundamentally intangible. Less about the physicality of the objects, more about what they represent and how they affect our grasp of reality. Less about the explicit messages, more about the implicit ones.

How can you truly understand the “artefacts” when you take things at face value and refuse to read between the lines?

I studied media and communication for my BA. I took a variety of courses. Apart from the theories, I also learned practical skills, like the basics of PR, marketing, advertising, press release writing and, of course, journalism.

Those practical skills teach me how to broadcast self-serving messages without lying through my teeth; all I need is to find the right angles and be meticulous or creative with my “language”. Even though it was far less explicit with journalism, it is also up to my judgment to determine which details to omit and which angles to use.

In essence, the practical skills corroborate the theories.

I have yet to watch his other videos. But, I am disappointed that he bungles potentially good content with skin-deep analysis.

Oh, and he forgets one thing: people have abused the term “neutrality”.

Some people – like him and I – champion neutral presentation because we want the integrity of fact-reporting institution to stay intact. Others champion it because they don’t like being challenged; they love neutrality because they want their beliefs to be seen as valid as any other, regardless of how factually-incorrect, unreasonable or hateful they are. .

From what I observe, Chapman does not attract that kind of audience, thankfully. But, I still think their existence is worth mentioning.

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Futurism is nothing without the present (and the past)

There is a thing called fake futurism, in which people believe the future is all about embracing the new and the hi-tech, without any concerns about their long-term practicality and sustainability.

And those people tend to be fans of Elon Musk and the likes.

Here’s my take: if we want to a strong and bright future, we must build a well-founded present and learn from the past. Radical, right?

If you ask people what aspects of our lives we must focus on, you would have different answers. Mine would be education, health, physical environment, culture and historical literacy.

High-quality and well-balanced education gives us not only practical skills, but also the wisdom to utilise them tactfully, making sure they actually benefit us in the long run.

High-quality and affordable healthcare makes sure we are not burdened only by health conditions which modern medicine can easily overcome, but also the medical bills.

Well-cared natural environments ensure not only we do not worsen existing natural disasters and disease outbreaks, but also the longevity of our clean water, food and fresh air supply and other natural resources which – believe it or not – many businesses are dependent on.

Good urban planning – which is human-centric instead of car-centric – ensures cities are not only environmentally and financially sustainable in the long run, but also maintaining social connectivity between the residents, which can foster the uniquely local cultures and prevent isolation between individuals and groups.

Attention of cultures ensures our respective countries and even our hometowns can culturally stand out instead of seen as mere carbon copies of other places; you would not leave a deep impression if you are indistinguishable from the rest.

Learning history, including the many grave sins of our ancestors, prevents us from not only repeating their mistakes, but also romanticising the past, which can dangerously inflate our collective sense of pride, which can derail our inability to acknowledge our own collective reality.

What I say above are practically basic common sense: if we want a bright future, what we do in the present must have long-term benefits.

And obsession with the latest hi-tech is not always beneficial.

It is beneficial when the tech makes our lives more practical and efficient in the long run. But, we know damn well some of you don’t care about that.

You love electric cars and any of those “green” techs because you want to maintain your wasteful lifestyles – which are antithetical to being green – and keep filling the infinitely empty space that is your life.

You love space explorations and robots simply because pop culture makes them look cool, not realising “cool” is not the same as “useful”, not realising you want the real world to emulate fiction.

You love IT not because you want better connectivity to the rest of the world, but because you want the ability to violate privacies.

You love nuclear energy not because you want more electricity for the masses, but because you want your country to have nukes, which you can use to bomb anyone who dare to offend your fragile nationalistic ego.

You love anything new because, for some goddamn reasons, you want to entirely cut ties with the past, as if there was nothing good to preserve and learn from it.

If you have so many “duh!” moments while reading this, then this blogpost is obviously not for you and you have wasted your time.

If this blogpost blows your mind or puts you on the defensive, then it is meant for the likes of you.

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You still need the human aspect

I used to feel inexplicably uneasy every time I watched videos by Wendover Productions. It is one of the channels which topics genuinely intrigue me. But, something always felt off.

Thanks to Alan Fisher, now I know why.

Fisher is another Youtuber whose content shares thematic similarities with Wendover, albeit his is more niche. He criticises Wendover’s videos for being hollow shells. Lots of technical information on the surface, no humanness underneath. That critique explains my uneasiness.

While there aren’t that many, I found comments critical of Fisher’s take, saying they would love science and tech videos free from personal opinions.

I do understand their frustration; they are coming only for the technical information. But, we should not forget one thing about STEM: they were created to benefit mankind. Sooner or later, we have to have discussions about how they affect us.

(Note: the following topics are not something Wendover has discussed in its videos. They are just something I have talked about with other people)

You can explain the differences between metric and imperial measurement systems. But, you also have to acknowledge that a system which conversion simply requires moving the decimal point is significantly more dependable and less likely to cause accidents than a system which requires one conversion formula for every pair of unit. Not to mention that metric is much easier to people who suck in math.

You can explain the technical details of man-made physical environments (e.g. buildings and urban planning) and machinery of different modes of transportation. But, you should also talk about how they affect our physical, financial, social and psychological well-being, both on collective and individual levels.

You can explain the technical details of information technology. But, you should also talk about how to ethically and cautiously utilising it, making sure it improves interconnectivity instead of stoking divisions, spreading misinformation and violating privacy.

You can explain the technical details of GMOs, pharmaceutical products and nuclear energy. But, you should also mention their political and/or corporate misuse, which distract the masses from seeing the actual benefits.

You can elaborate on the latest technological breakthroughs. But, you should discuss whether they are actually beneficial and sustainable in the long run or they are just symptoms of fake futurism which may or may not exacerbate humanity’s existing problems.

You can elaborate on evolution theory. But, you should also talk about the taboo attached to it. Is it because of literal interpretations of the scriptures? Is it because of anthropocentrism? Is it both? Is it because of a reason I have never thought of before?

If we want to know which technical knowledge is the most beneficial, we must take a look at the data. If it is clear, then we must take a stance by choosing the empirically-proven approaches and ditching the ones that aren’t. If the data isn’t clear, then we must have discussions, which inevitably involve lots and lots opinions.

If we want to know how theoretical knowledge affects us, we must observe people’s responses to it. Do they embrace it to widen their horizon? Do they reject it for contradicting their personal beliefs? Do they believe certain knowledge is useless if it does not bring immediate practical benefits?

Why do humans have such varying responses? How can we spread science appreciation to the wider society? How can we convince people to change their beliefs when faced with refuting evidences? How can we convince them that expansing one’s horizon is also an actual benefit?

If you think science communication must convey nothing but technical information, why bother?

Why bother with science communication – which is meant to make the masses appreciate STEM even more – when you disregard its significance in our human lives? Why bother when you could have just written and read textbooks and scientific papers?

It sounds like I absolutely hate Wendover. While I do think most of his videos aren’t that great, there are two which I truly love: The World’s Most Useful Airport and The Final Years of Majuro.

The former is about an airport in an extremely isolated island called St. Helena. It covers the airport’s arduous technical aspects and its impacts on the islanders’ lives. He interviewed the locals, including a couple whose baby received urgent life-saving treatment thanks to the airport.

The latter is about how climate change is threatening to swallow the entirety of Marshall Islands, which means the Marshallese people will lose their ancestral homeland soon. He interviewed them as well, even ones who lived abroad.

They tackle issues which can be solved using STEM and warn us about the consequences of our refusal to solve them. Unless you are a robot or one of those Ayn Rand-esque selfish bastards, hearing the human side of the stories would make you more appreciative of STEM’s existence and more concerned about its use.

The thing is Wendover does not need to travel to a far flung place and interview its residents. If he compliments his STEM content with some dashes of social sciences and humanities and he acknowledges that it is okay to add personal opinions as long as they are well-reasoned and respectful of facts, his other videos would have been much more profound.

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“Cancel culture stops people from growing”

… is something what people argue against cancel culture. They believe even the worst of the worst should not be cancelled; if they are cancelled, they would never learn to be better people.

I disagree because it insinuates that every mistake humans make is equally bad. We know damn well that is not true. Making tasteless jokes is certainly not on par with inciting violence, being sexually predatory and filming a dead body and showing it your young viewers. You won’t grow up if you don’t taste the bitter consequences for your actions.

Obviously, the severity must be proportionate. Ruining someone’s a career just for a tactless joke – especially the one made in the past – is needlessly cruel. Stern but constructive criticism is more than enough; you would learn that likeability requires reading the goddamn room.

But, incitement of violence? Sexual abuse? Filming a corpse and showing it to children as entertainment? Do I need to explain how harmful they are?

If you committed either one and the only punishments you get are mere criticism and temporary income decrease, it sends a message that your atrocious acts are trivial stuffs which people overreact to. Why should you learn from your mistakes when you can repeat them over and over again and always left relatively unscathed?

Take Youtubers Logan and Jake Paul as examples. They were never cancelled. As severe as the criticism was, they were never on the brink of losing their careers. In fact, not only they are still thriving, they are still sleazy.

As far as I am concerned, neither of them continue targeting mature content to children (and Logan only filmed a dead body once). But now, they are peddling cryptocurrency scams.

They never stop being bad guys; they simply changed their modus operandi. Logan also created a well-received podcast which, intentionally or not, gives a false impression of personal growth.

If not getting cancelled fosters personal growth, why are the Paul brothers still the cunts that they are?

If influential and problematic Youtubers like them were cancelled, they would be powerless to cause widespread harm. Not only they wouldn’t continue mistreat lots of other people, they also wouldn’t normalise toxicity, to the point where we have extremely low bar of human decency on Youtube, making them look virtuous compared to other problematic individuals.

Would they grow as human beings? I don’t know and I don’t give a fuck.

Seriously, between stopping a disease from spreading and giving it a chance (which is not 100%) to cure itself, why the fuck should we prioritise the latter?

Why the fuck should we risk letting it spreading just for the sake of your pathetic, deluded sensibility?

Why the fuck should we responsible for their redemption arcs?

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We should hand it to warmongers

No, I am not being facetious.

A war is a conflict which not only results in destructions of human properties, but also the brutal, violent deaths of innocent human beings, physical and psychological trauma of the survivors and the possibility of long-term geo-political instability, which may lead to even more violence.

To describe it as hell on earth is an understatement.

And yet, despite what we know about wars, warmongers have successfully convinced the world that killing innocent human lives, physically and/or psychologically scarring the survivors and destabilising the entire region are a must. Why? Because the hypothetical liberation promised by the so-called freedom-loving invaders.

What I just described does not make any fucking sense. And yet, warmongers have successfully convinced people to embrace that nonsensical belief.

One may argue I am giving them too much credit. Some people are so gullible, it does not take much to persuade them. In some cases, that is definitely the case: all you need to do is to say things, no techniques needed. But, the more I interact with people, the more I see the complexity.

Not all of the people who fall for the warmongering are stupid. In fact, I have seen some whose intelligence is above average, who are capable to process complex thoughts with great ease.

It is infuriating how warmongers can convince even the most intelligent people to believe nonsensical bullshit, while war-opponents are unable to persuade even the most gullible people.

This is just another reminder that simply knowing the truths and having the morality isn’t enough. If we want to spread our values, we must have the skills to do so and we must be great at them.

Obviously, this judgement of mine has been clouded by cynicism. But, I cannot help noticing how the more immoral and/or reactionary people are, the more likely they are to be accomplished in organisational and communication skills.

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“You should ‘go out’ more”…

… is what people usually say to me in arguments. When they say ‘go out’, they mean leaving my safe space and exposing myself to different worldview.

Obviously, that’s a sound advice. We should thrive to avoid any echo chambers if we truly have the desire to grow and discern our reality. But, I do know those people don’t care about my well-being; they just hate it that I refuse to appease to them.

People who love exaggerating the flaws of Marvel films think I need to watch anything other than Hollywood blockbusters, not realising that my favourite film directors are Andrei Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman and Stanley Kubrick, arguably giants of arthouse cinema, and some of my favourite films are not even American, let alone Hollywood.

Some people think I will grow out of my “extremely woke” politics and suggest leaving my echo chamber. It is interesting because not only there is nothing radical about centre-left politics, I used to be a lot more conservative. I also live in a country where even self-proclaimed moderates are very socially conservative. Not to mention the many conservatives, libertarians, liberals and centrists I constantly run into online.

Pro and anti-multiculturalism and anti-Muslim westerners have something in common: they genuinely believe that the west is the only diverse place on earth. The differences? The pro wants to feel superior about their own countries, thinking simply seeing minorities on the streets and having foreign ancestors boost their multicultural cred. The other camps think other places aren’t being forced to be diverse. When I refute their factually incorrect claims, they condescendingly suggest me to interact with people of differing cultural and religious backgrounds.

What they don’t know is I am from Indonesia, a country with six officially recognised religions and literally hundreds of ethnic groups; my hometown specifically has five dominant ethnic groups, which is unusual even for an Indonesian city, and has visible Christian and Buddhist minorities. I attended a middle school where I was one of the few non-Chinese-Indonesian and non-Buddhist students and I got my degree from an Australian university. Oh, and virtually all of my online friends are foreigners and much of them are non-Muslims.

My exposure to different cultures and religions is so mundane. If it wasn’t for my interactions with dumb westerners, I would have kept taking my diverse upbringing for granted.

“The more you know, the more you don’t know”

The older I get, the more I can relate to the quote. As much as I want to see myself as extremely knowledgeable, I have to acknowledge the horizon’s infinite vastness.

I haven’t tasted every film style of imaginable. I haven’t matured politically. And I have only been exposed to a tiny chunk of the world’s cultures and religions. I need to keep learning.

But, as one can tell, my aforementioned opponents clearly don’t care. They all share something in common: the belief that some or all of their opinions are absolutely correct. My mere disagreement is more than enough for them to make a baseless assumption about my personal life, which they make even before I say anything about it.

One may argue I am a hypocrite because I also make assumptions about others when I disagree with them. But, there is a difference.

My aforementioned opponents make assumptions simply because I disagree, that’s literally the sole reason. Meanwhile, I make assumptions based not only on how (un)reasonable and factually (in)accurate their opinions are, but also the anecdotes which they willingly share.

If you say enjoyment of pop culture is a sign of immaturity, I can assume you are a self-righteous bitch who want to feel undeservingly high and mighty about your tastes.

If you say centre-left politics – which is closer to the centre than it is to the far end – is too “woke”, I can assume you are swinging too far to the right end. I can also assume you are unable to perceive life’s many many shades of grey.

If you say multiculturalism can only be found in the west, I can assume you are jingostic westerners who think your countries are more special than they really are and/or you know nothing about lives beyond your borders.

If you admit that you intentionally avoid interactions with the “others” and avoid visiting other countries because you “know” how bad they are, I can definitely say you don’t care about the truth, you just want to affirm your preconceived beliefs.

Again, I refuse to say I have fully escaped all kinds of bubbles. But, I am confident I have escaped more bubbles than my opponents do.

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Destructive criticism shouldn’t motivate you

Why should it?

The proceeding adjective should have been enough. Destructive critics don’t care about our well-being; they inject mind-controlling parasites into our minds and make sure they are hard to get rid off. They want the power to control our lives, they want to live rent free in our minds, free to release toxins within them.

If they do care about us, they wouldn’t exaggerate our weaknesses and make us feel guilty for having trivial ones that do not affect them personally. If they do care about us, their criticism would have been factual and they would have targeted weaknesses that are actually detrimental to us and/or others.

Why do you exercise? Is it because you want to be healthier or want to be more physically attractive? Or is it because some people bully you because they don’t like seeing fat people?

Why do you work long hours? Is it because you love your job or you want more money? Or is it because you want people stop calling you a lazy pig?

Why do you study hard? Is it because you love the subjects or you want the diplomas for future employment? Or is it because you want people stop calling you a stupid pig?

Why do you do those adrenaline-inducing activities? Is it because you are an adrenaline junkie or you want to overcome your fear? Or is it because you want people stop calling you a pussy?

Why do you do the things you do? Is it because you love doing them and/or you want to reap the benefits, regardless of how shallow or profound those benefits are? Or is it because you want others to stop verbally abusing you?

If your answer is always the latter, then you have a problem. Even if those destructive criticism brings us worldly successes, your life still revolves around the desires of your abusers, NOT your own.

Yes, thriving to achieve worldly successes is great. But, is it really worth our time and energy if our goal isn’t to please ourselves but to please our abusers?

One may argue that we shouldn’t complain; if the abuses bring us those worldly successes, shouldn’t we show gratitude instead of behaving like ungrateful brats?

First, how can those successes of yours bring pleasure when they were never intended to please you? If they do bring pleasure, is it possible that you and your abusers just happen to share the same dreams?

Second, what if other people abuse you not for your weight and lack of workaholism, but for your sexuality, facial features, cultural backgrounds and skin colour? Believe it or not, if yours are the right kind, your life would be practically easier; not only you would be less likely to suffer abuse, you would have easier time achieving professional successes as promotions become more likely to occur.

Now, if you are a giant cunt who think simply being different is inflammatory, you would not see anything wrong with the whole thing. But, if you are one of the lessers cunts, you would be troubled by it.

One may argue the two groups are not comparable. Weight and workaholism can be achieved and un-achieved while sexuality, skin colour and cultural backgrounds are not things we can pick and choose. I acknowledge the difference.

But, how do those things affect other people? How the fuck does your fatness negatively affect others? Your so-called “laziness”? Your so-called “pussiness”?

Well…

Your fatness affect others either by not affirming to their aesthetic standard 0r making you unable to be used as their 0bjects of masturbation.

Your lack of workaholism affect others either by disrespecting their love of workers exploitations or reminding them that workaholism does not always pay off.

Your lack of thrill-seeking affect other people by refusing to put adrenaline junkies on a higher pedestal for their “bravery”.

Basically, those traits of yours affect other people like your skin colours and sexuality do: robbing them the chance to feel undeservingly superior about themselves.

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If you don’t like them, just say it! Don’t make up excuses!

This blog post is a translation of this.

Indonesians know we are a nation ashamed of itself.

Of course, many of us are despicably behaved. But, many of us are ashamed because of things I consider trivial: ashamed of our own heritage.

Let me show you two example cases.

Case one:

On a food-related Facebook post, a foreign citizen of Indonesian descent said she disliked Indonesian cuisine due to the strong and “imbalanced” flavours of spices. That’s why she preferred Indian and Thai ones. She only liked Indonesian foods made abroad.

She also said Thai cuisine was more “sophisticated” than the Indonesian one, hence why there is an abundance of Thai restaurants everywhere.

Case two:

On Youtube, I made a comment about how invisible Indonesian culture was on the world stage. Not long after, a fellow Indonesian told me the lack of popularity was caused by the lack of aesthetic originality.

He said our ancestral cultures were just carbon copies of Arab and Chinese cultures. He believed that was the reason why foreigners were more interested in Malaysian, Thai and Filipino cultures.

If take a close look, none of their arguments make sense.

The first person said she didn’t like Indonesian cuisine due to the strong and “imbalanced” spices. But, she also liked Indian and Thai cuisines….. which are also known for strong spices.

The second person said Indonesian cultures were just copying foreign ones. But, he also praised Malaysian, Thai and Filipino ones…. which were also influenced by foreign ones; even the end results look similar to the Indonesian ones.

They criticise Indonesia for something…. and praising other countries which also have the same thing. It is obvious they can like something, as long as that something is not Indonesian.

They also said the lack of popularity was caused by its low quality. This also does not make any sense.

If we analyse every single worldwide cultural phenomenon one at a time, we will find a common thread: marketing. That can be done either by governments for diplomatic purposes or by corporations for profit’s sake.

Like it or not, the most effective way to globalise a culture is to showcase it on the world stage. Diligence is not enough; we also have to believe in the quality of the products we are selling.

Try remember: how often we hear news about Indonesians actively promoting our cultures abroad? I am certain the answer is either “rarely” or “never”.

Never mind culture, even our tourism campaign is pathetically sporadic. In 2019, Indonesia was visited by sixteen million foreign tourists. Singapore in the same year? Nineteen millions. We – -the fourth most populous country on earth and the most in Southeast Asia – are defeated by a petite country with frankly unimpressive cultural diversity when compared to Indonesian one.

Besides, if popularity is evidence of high quality, why is junk food popular all over the world? Why is Indomie instant noodle more popular than Indonesian traditional dishes? With that logic, does that mean junk food and Indomie are foods of the highest quality?

Years ago, I was just like those two people, especially when the Indonesian language was involved.

I used to think the Indonesian language – especially its standard register – was a language with rough and flat pronunciations, shallow and insubstantial vocabulary and simplistic grammar; hence why I prefer to blog in English. Nowadays, my opinions are still the same…. except in one aspect.

I still think grammatical tense is useful in decreasing temporal ambiguity. But, from grammatical standpoint, I finally acknowledge one thing which makes Indonesian better than English: the affixes.

Unlike in English, affixes in Indonesian (and Malay in general) are more extensive and consistent. Just by adding prefixes and suffixes, we can change a word’s meaning and decreases the risk of ambiguity. Unlike in English, we rarely encounter commonly-used words with multiple meanings.

I have rambled too much.

The point of my rambling is we – as Indonesians – have the right to dislike anything Indonesian. Not suitable to our tastes, low quality, lack of emotional attachments, morality, any reasons are valid…

… As long as they make sense. In those two cases, the reasons definitely make no sense.

Let’s recap: they criticise Indonesia for one thing and then praising other countries despite having the exact same thing. They also think the lack of popularity is a sign of its low quality, despite the fact that there are low quality foreign cultures which are popular all over the world.

They dislike anything Indonesian simply because those things are Indonesian. If they are foreign citizens with no Indonesian lineage, we would have considered them as prejudiced human beings.

But, those two human beings clearly have the lineage and they have definitely been exposed to life in the country. It is obvious they are ashamed of their own identities. If they have the choice, they would have swapped their ancestors with ones from other countries.

At the same time, they are aware that their honesty would provoke anger of Indonesian nationalist wannabes. As a result, they always find excuses to hide their true feelings.

But, no matter how hard we try hiding the carcasses, no matter how much perfume we use, the stench will seep through eventually.

If those two don’t feel ashamed of their lineage, I am certain their dislike of anything Indonesian would have been more reasonable and wouldn’t unfairly criticising the country.

Oh, and when I am say nationalist wannabes, I am referring to Indonesians who express pride when their country is insulted or sharply criticised and yet, in other times, they refuse to do anything to elevate their country’s esteem.

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