How to protect your identities from tyranny and extinction

*puts on a mask*

First thing first, you must be a supremacist.

You cannot simply see your identity as the only correct one. You must aggrandise it as the only one blessed either by divine power, nature or both. Every person who thinks otherwise is inherently immoral and you must severely punish them once you are in power! You must also demonise anyone simply for not sharing your identity…… with some exceptions.

If they acknowledge your supremacy and are content with their arbitrarily second-class status, then they are worth keeping. You can utilise those tools as tools to advance your agenda.

The self-veneration isn’t enough. You must also start declaring that the mere existence of other identities threatens yours! Other religions exist? Accuse them of trying to impose theocracies! Other ethnicities exist? Accuse them of trying to impose their cultures upon you! Other sexualities and gender identities exist? Accuse them of sexual perversion! Other races exist? Accuse them of racial genocide; God forbids if your women want to breed with their more attractive men!

It does not matter that you are guilty of what you are accusing your victims of. What it matters is you must fool the masses into believing that those numerically-small and politically-powerless people are their biggest enemies.

After the demonisation, you must actively make efforts to discriminate them. You also must believe that discrimination is not discrimination if committed by people like you.

But, you CANNOT explicitly express that. What you should do is advocating for discriminatory or even genocidal laws instead. Combine that with your demonisation of the others, the message will wordlessly conveyed. That way, morons would not dare to call you bigoted.

If those things are too complex for you (they probably are), just remember this mantra:

My identities good, their identities bad.

Take those words to the heart and chant them repeatedly.

Don’t stop until those words violently replace single cell in your body.

My identities good, their identities bad.

My identities good, their identities bad.

My identities good, their identities bad.

My identities good, their identities bad.

My identities good, their identities bad.

My identities good, their identities bad.

Repeat until they have completely taken over your entire life.

*takes off the mask*

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Labels, identities and how people can be goddamn idiotic about them

Eugene Lee Yang is a member of the The Try Guys. His Korean-American identity is a recurring theme in the videos. In fact, someone made a video compiling every time Lee-Yang speaks Korean onscreen.

This video is a surprise to many people because of how short it is. In the comment section, I explain how he is not Korean, he is an American of Korean-descent.

And then, the backlashes pouring in like sewage tsunami.

People thought my refusal to call him simply Korean is gatekeeping Korean identity and denying his Koreanness. Of course, if you can read, you know it is not true. I explicitly called him an American of Korean-descent; literally the word Korean was there!

I refuse to call him simply Korean because I believe our identities are shaped mostly by the places we grew up in, NOT by our citizenships and certainly not by how our ancestors lived their lives.

There is another Korean-American former Buzzfeed employee called Evan Ghang. In his case, I have no issues calling him simply Korean. Why? Because, unlike Yang, Ghang actually spent much of his childhood in Korea!

Obviously, you can still get exposed to your ancestral heritage without living in your ancestral land. But, if the exposure only occurs at home, then you are barely exposed to it.

Oh, and that video of Eugene Lee Yang speaking Korean? It is only seventeen seconds long. At that point, there were already lots of Youtube videos featuring him… and yet, he barely spoke the language in any of them.

It is not me gatekeeping Korean identity (I don’t have Korean lineage!) and I don’t mind if Asian-Americans identify simply as Asians. It is about me trying my best to be as empirical as possible.

But, I also shouldn’t disregard how different places treat labels.

In Hawaii, “Hawaiian” is reserved to anyone with indigenous lineage; those who do not possess it are referred to as “of/from Hawaii” and/or their ancestral lineage (e.g. Filipino or Japanese). This is not intended to gatekeep the Hawaiian identity, it is meant to respect the people who have become a disenfranchised minority in their own ancestral homeland and almost lost their heritage to cultural genocide.

That fact reminds me of political implications of labels and how I was dumb to not bring that up sooner in the argument.

Whether you believe it or not, white and black Americans (who are not (perceived as) Muslims) rarely have their Americanness questioned (if ever), even when the former identify with specific European ethnicities and the latter identify as African-Americans.

But, Asian-Americans? Even with their status as “model minority”, they are still seen as perpetual foreigners. When they are asked “where are they from?”, the askers often mean countries instead of cities or states. The increasing hate crimes against them during the ongoing pandemic is a harsh reminder of that.

In Indonesia, my home country, I don’t feel comfortable calling Chinese-Indonesians simply as Chinese. They are bigots’ favourite scapegoats and, like Asian-Americans, also seen as perpetual foreigners, even though many of them can’t speak any Chinese languages and never identify as Chinese.

But, with Indonesians of other backgrounds, I have no qualm about referring to them by their ethnic lineage, even ones who grew up outside their ethnic homelands. Why? Because their ethnicities are indigenous to the archipelago; it is impossible to accuse them of being foreign.

The word ‘indigenous’ also has developed more negative connotations. Under Dutch colonial rule, it was politically empowering. But now, it is often used to “othering” Chinese-Indonesians.

My point is labels are more complicated than we think they are.

On one hand, I believe we should be careful about culturally labelling ourselves and others. We should go beyond lineage and citizenship as they don’t always shape us, if at all.

But, on the other hand, we should also consider the political implications of those labels, regardless of how rational they are. Even with our best intentions, we may end up unwittingly exacerbate the prejudice.

Basically, just like everything in life, we need nuances…. something which my opponents clearly lack.

At one point, I just straight up called one of them a cunt. They insisted that I was denying Eugene Lee Yang’s Koreanness, even though I clearly wasn’t. It is obviously they couldn’t care less about honest conversations.

Initially, I accepted that they had good intentions. But now, I wonder if they were ever well-intentioned in the first place. Maybe, they were trying to emphasise his foreignness, to make him even sound less American.

Who knows?

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The same opponent I called a cunt also brought the word “nationality” and how “Koreans” are a nationality because they share the same Korean root.

I acknowledge them for getting one definition of the word right. Well, only one. While “nationality” can be a synonym for “ethnicity”, it also has another definition: citizenship.

In fact, in the English language, this other definition is the most commonly used one; apart from my opponent, I don’t know any other English-speakers who use the words “nationality” and “ethnicity” interchangeably.

This is a reason why Donald Trump’s attempt to declare Jews a nationality was condemned. For many, he was putting targets on the backs of Jews by making them sound perpetually foreign.

Just because a word has multiple meanings, that does not mean all of them are widely-used.

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Labels can be good (for you)

I remember reading a widely-shared online quote (don’t remember whom it was attributed to) which had a strong message: labels are violent because they divide us.

Other people I encountered were smitten by quote, which they perceived as profound and reasonable. Me? I find it simplistic and frankly brainless.

I acknowledge that zealous devotion to one’s label may lead to sectarianism, which may potentially lead to violence. But, it is also dishonest to claim everyone who identifies with a label is sectarian, let alone violent.

If that is the case, that means literally every single person in living history is guilty of sectarianism. Do you expect me to believe that?

From what I observe, the people who agreed with the quote hated either diversity or religion, which they blamed for all the conflicts in the world. As someone who actually grew up multicultural and religious, I find it nonsensical.

Maybe, they are projecting. When they talk about diversity causing conflicts, they are probably talking about themselves. I have this assumption because most anti-diversity folks I have interacted with never cite any sectarian conflicts (and there are countless to choose from); the only things they cite are their feelings.

Maybe, just maybe, their anti-diversity stance is their effort to justify their intolerance, to make it appears more universal than it really is.

Oh, and even if you remove religion from the earth’s surface, conflicts would prevail anyway. I mean, people have killed over their favourite soccer teams. What makes you think abolishing religion is the be-all and end-all?

So, now actually discussing the title, what are the benefits of labels?

For me, they encourage contemplation.

I identify as a Muslim because Islam is the religion I grew up, despite having been mistreated by Muslims who love hiding behind God and religion. It shows how I always separate the religion from the believers.

Knowing my combative and vengeful tendency, if I were abused instead of simply being mistreated, there is a high chance I would end up as an ex-Muslim who associates Islam with abusive human beings.

I am also certain I am not an extremist because I am not triggered every time others openly identify as non-Muslims; I genuinely couldn’t care less whether you are a fellow Muslim or not. Admittedly, at one point, I was on the way to zealotry; thankfully, I never reached the destination.

I identify as an Indonesian because not only I am a citizen, it was also the only national cultural identity I grew up with. Unlike many Indonesians, I don’t identify with a specific ethnic identity; I “blame” it on my upbringing in two multicultural cities with no dominant ethnic groups and a culturally neutral household. While it immunises me from ethnic and cultural sectarianism, it also emotionally detaches me from any of the country’s ancestral heritage.

I should also mention my slight reluctance to identify as an Indonesian. Apart from the aforementioned detachment, my personal interactions with foreigners also compel me to burst my national cultural bubble and explore the world beyond.

I cannot say this without sounding pretentious: I am an Indonesian and a global citizen. While Indonesia is my homeland, I believe the rest of the world is also worth embracing.

Obviously, having labels does not instantly makes you contemplative. But, you can definitely ask yourselves these:

Why do you identify with the labels you have now? Did you grow up with them? If you did, why do you stick with them? If you didn’t, why do you end up with them? What’s your relationship with fellow label wearers? What’s your relationship with wearers of other labels?

My point is not only labels are not inherently bad, we can also use them to understand how we become the way we are and what kind of people we could have become.

Instead of flaunting them your labels, you must always question them. Keep in mind that nature and nurture – which you have no control over – shape you. They decide the labels for you.

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Being Indonesian

 

I was born in Indonesia. The first language I learned was Indonesian. Both of my parents are Indonesian citizens and my mom is a Sundanese speaker. Before university, I only attended one international school; even then, I was still surrounded by other Indonesian citizens and some classes still used Indonesian as a medium of instruction. In high school, I was surrounded by students who spoke with various regional accents. I started to form relationships with foreigners when I became active in social media, when I was eighteen.

But, somehow, my Indonesian-ness started emerging when I was an adult.

I grew up preferring foreign foods and looked  down on Indonesian ones which I dismissed as ‘traditional medicine but in food forms’. I preferred to appreciate western-influenced arts over ones with distinctively Indonesian characteristics. I also hoped to leave Indonesia for good. I felt like a westerner.

Of course, I have changed.

I am now able to eat Indonesian dishes and watch traditional art performances with sincerity. My desire to leave and my western inclination have also diminished.

I still don’t know why my old self was like that.

Maybe it has something to do with my childhood which lacks exposure to anything Indonesian. Maybe it is my mom who inexplicably did not teach her children a regional language. Maybe it is me constantly eating foreign foods.

But, after I thought about it, what I just said were also experienced by others; from my knowledge, they never feel alien in their home country. Their identity has always been Indonesian.

Of course, my horizon widens as I get older. I undoubtedly get exposed to more things western. But, at the same time, I am also exposed to more things Indonesian.

The more I taste different types of European cheese and bread, the more I taste different types of gulai and Indonesian ‘salads’ like gado-gado and urap. The more I listen to western music, the more I listen to Indonesian folk songs and works of musicians like Guruh Soekarno Putra and Kua Etnika. The more I listen to cases of sectarianism in western countries, the more I realise how our inter-ethnic relations are relatively peaceful and harmonious according to international standard.

I am finally able to compare Indonesia with the western world  more meticulously and the comparison shows how Indonesian-ness is a very unique and complex which is impossible to be summarised.

Some of our traditions are clearly results of different foreign influences, we boast cultural diversity which can only be rivalled by India, Papua New Guinea and certain African countries and Indonesia is a predominantly-Muslim country which national symbols are Hindu in origin. How can you summarise that?

Indonesia is a country that can easily shine. If its citizens sincerely embrace our Indonesian identity, we would be more accomplished in generating innovative ideas and hence, making us more contributive to world developments.

Obviously, I don’t praise things simply because they are Indonesian.

Our cooking is still too dependent on palm oil and white rice, our pop culture is unsophisticated in regards to its aesthetics and originality, we are too dependent on conservative mindsets which hinder us from being reasonable. Moreover, our inter-religious and inter-racial relations are not as good as advertised.

Counterintuitively, the more I know about the ugly side of my nation, the more I embrace my Indonesian identity.

Unlike my old self, I am no longer infatuated with absolute perfection, a thing that only exists in fairy tales; presenting it as the truth is deceitful. Imperfection is never compelled to be so; as a result, the authenticity of its good side is more guaranteed.

Blind nationalism comes into being because the citizens feel their country is entirely ‘attractive’. But, from my experiences, they don’t know how the ‘attractiveness’ looks like.

Because of their black-and-white perspectives, they don’t realise how life is full of grey haze which is almost impenetrable. They are certain stereotypes are a hundred percent valid. Unless you see prejudice as a virtuous trait, you surely realise stereotypes will always mislead you and drag you to a deadly dark realm which you will have a hard time escaping from.

I do sound over-the-top. But, that’s what I have experienced myself.

I should tell you that my biography is incomplete. My old self did dislike anything Indonesian. But, at the same time, I was also a blind nationalist.

I did not care what being Indonesian entailed. I only cared about the ‘Indonesian’ label. I looked down on anything that had foreign labels stamped on them, even though I secretly preferred them and I did not want to admit it. In fact, I used to believe we were obliged to defend our country all the time, even when it was in the wrong.

Nationalistic, but did not know anything about his own country and refused to respect his ancestral heritages.

I admit that my story is confusing and unbelievable. Moreover, I don’t know how to persuade others to believe me. So, all I can do is to ask these questions:

Why do you consider yourself Indonesian? Don’t answer ‘citizenship’ and/or ‘was born and raised here’. It is too easy.

What are the things you love and hate about Indonesia? Have you experienced or observed them in person? Or are they things you only have heard and read about AKA rumours?

I consider myself Indonesian because I am already emotionally attached to the country, no matter how ugly it is. Even if I end up living overseas for good, I am sure my Indonesian-ness will never go away.

You already know what I love and hate about Indonesia and they are the things I have experienced and observed in person. Most of the feel-good stories disseminated by parents, schools and the media turn out to be balderdash; the splendour is either exaggerated or never exists in the first place.

Indeed, public figures constantly call us to collectively contemplate about our national identity. But, I don’t know if I miss the memo, I have never heard them make any calls to contemplate individually.

A group definitely consists of ‘members’ who are distinct from one another. Therefore, I find it strange if a contemplation that involves many is not implemented on an individual level.

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I don’t know exactly why they exist. But, they intrigue me

 

I am talking about the opening ceremonies of multi-sports events. Considering I am too lazy to do some research, I will make my own obviously-invalid conjecture about how they came into being.

It seems the elaborateness started on the 1980 Summer Olympics held in Moscow. I assume the USSR tried to compensate for its human rights violations and impoverished populace by bringing out the ‘positivity’ that was the opening ceremony.

I have that assumption because it is no secret countries all over the world, even ones more well-off than the USSR, actively bearing deceptively friendly and warm facades on the international stage. No matter how free and peaceful their countries are, they all need propaganda… and opening ceremonies of multi-sports events make a really good one.

They are the only propaganda I willingly fall for. They are the only reason why I care for some sporting events and they also successfully instil suspension of disbelief into my mind; every time I watch the ceremonies, I am willing to pretend that the host countries are all-perfect, albeit temporarily.

I have made reviews for the opening ceremonies of Asian Games and Para Games 2018 (simply because I am an Indonesian, obviously). Don’t know why it took me a long to review the summer olympics ones.

I will focus on the ones held in Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro, in that order. They are the summer olympics openings I have watched in their entirety.

I know I could have waited for the Tokyo one. But, I want to write this down now.

2000 Sydney

There are three things that I love about this edition: Deep Sea Dreaming segment, Nature segment and James Morrison’s Jazzy fanfare.

I love the two segments because the combination of playful and colourful visuals with soothing orchestral soundtracks result in an ethereal spectatorship. I love the fanfare because of how its energetic sounds compliment the atmosphere of a sporting event.

But, the rest of the ceremony is tacky and problematic.

In contrast to those two specific segments, the others seem to be designed solely to hype up the audience. The segment titled Arrivals even goes so far to exhibit extremely sparse visual and prefers to give spotlight to the kitsch upbeat techno music!

One of my media studies lecturers also pointed out the whitewashing in the Tin Symphony segment. Instead of showcasing the hardship of the British convicts sent to Australia, it only depicts happy early European settlers.

I also pointed to her that throughout the ceremony, one can see the Aboriginal performers observing the performances from afar. It can be interpreted either as a commentary of how Australian Aboriginals are excluded from their country’s festivities OR as a subtle middle finger to them.

It might not be ill-intentioned. But, combined with the historical whitewashing, it can send a wrong message.

2004 Athens

The conclusion unfortunately feels cold and I think the use of trance music during the parade of nations emits an off-putting vibe of self-indulgence. But, at the same time, it is the most artistic and thought-provoking opening ceremony ever… and I said that without any sense of exaggeration.

The Allegory segment really does live up to its name. It is a dream sequence (and I am a sucker for dream-like atmospheres) which features a giant, floating Cycladic head sculpture breathtakingly arising from the body of water with geometric imagery projected onto it. Then, the sculpture breaks into pieces, revealing a more sophisticated sculpture of a human torso inside… which breaks again, revealing another human torso sculpture. A white cube also arises from the water with a man tries to balance himself on it, all while images of human beings and humanity’s achievements projected onto the sculpture’s broken pieces. The segment ends with the pieces land on the water, representing the Greek islands.

Basically, it is an allegory about the evolution of human civilisations and present-day Greece is one of the starting points. I adore this segment for its skilful storytelling with no expositions needed. Anyone with basic knowledge in history will easily get it.

The Clepsydra segment is also a unique segment. It depicts Greek history and mythology. But, how they are depicted struck me. It took me some time to realise the moving things on those carts were not animatronics, they were actual people with painted bodies who deliberately moved like animated sculptures!

It is refreshing from the usual routine of performers wandering all over the venue. It feels less like watching an entertainment show and more like visiting a museum; for someone who loves visiting museums, it is certainly a strength.

I always wonder about the performers: were they dancers, actors or models? I thought about those three professions because they clearly require mastery of our body languages.

The presence of Björk, a musician known for her intense musical exploration, surely bolsters the event’s overall artistry as well.

2008 Beijing

I know people will rip me for this (as if my essay will ever blow up): this edition is too overrated.

The more mature I get, the more I see how tacky it is. In fact, it is as tacky as the Sydney one. No regard for aesthetic, only for the audience’s desire for eye candy.

Okay, it is a bit unfair. The Beijing edition is certainly more grandiose and therefore, requires more discipline from the performers. Disciplined enough to work as a large collective, but still manage to look like humans instead of robots.

2012 London

Aesthetic wise, I am not that impressed. Many of the choreographies (excluding the one in the 7/7 tribute) are either awkward or basic. The one in the children’s literature segment looks like it was created by an amateur.

The event is also another pander express. It chooses to showcase the United Kingdom’s most famous aspect of life: pop culture. Of course, I do understand why the focus is not on British heritage or history; the former may be boring to non-Brits and the latter is associated with colonialism and must be executed with great tact. Pop culture is a safe choice. But, it makes the entire ceremony feels like a commercially-produced British TV show.

Strangely, I also think it has emotional profundity lacking in the other editions. The joy, the grief, the sense of wonder, they don’t feel artificial. They feel sincere.

I wonder if it has something to do with the nature of British entertainment.

From what I observe, American and Indonesian ones (especially when one talks about ‘reality’ TV shows) can be forceful with the emotions; they love to dictate the audience on what to feel. British entertainment, on the other hand, prefers to let them speak for themselves and it is always transparent about their absence.

Obviously, my statement is too simplistic as exceptions does and will always exist. But, from my personal experiences, Indonesian and American entertainment constantly annoy me with their overt-sentimentality which always comes across as insincere; British one barely annoys me like that.

2016 Rio de Janeiro

I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with this edition.

It has eye-catching visuals, it has upbeat music… and yet, it feels anaemic. It reminds me of a person who tries to put a lively and energetic facade when deep down, he/she in favour of calmness and quietness. I have such observation because the calmer segments work rather well.

My God, the environmentalist message. Why does it have to be so on-the-nose? When will people realise that blatant messages in the arts and entertainment are fucking off-putting? How will this make people accept that humans are a a part of nature and not above it?

The only thing I like about the ceremony is the acknowledgement of Brazil’s history of slavery. I love it because such acknowledge is refreshing to any countries… and because it is actually goddamn subtle and not dependent on any fucking bullshit expositions!

Which editions are my favourites?

The Athens and London ones, if you can’t tell.

Instead of completely pandering to the masses as the creative director of the Athens edition, Dimitris Papaioannou maintained his identity as an artist. Creators must be commended for that because, whether we want to admit it or not, the members of the audience were benefited by non-escapist and artistic presentations and having their horizon widened even further. Considering the global significance of the olympics, Papaioannou did millions of people a favour by compelling them to stay ‘switched on’, albeit only for a while.

And yes, I am making a big deal out of the London edition’s emotional sincerity. It is just that I am deeply revolted by the synthetic emotionality which many creatures prefer over the organic one; they prefer the former because they think being obvious equals being sincere. Running into the latter is such a nice, rare treat.

But, do you what is nicer? Fusing both strengths into one.

Can you imagine watching an opening ceremony that makes you think and feel? Right now, I can only yearn for such gratification.

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My worried take on Indonesian tourism

Note:

I initially wanted to submit this essay, which was originally written in Indonesian, to a writing contest. But, because of technicalities, I missed the deadline. Oh, well.

Honestly, I am worried about it.

On one hand, I would love for the Indonesian tourism industry to thrive. I would love for those places with high potentials to be visited by tourists. Besides the obvious economic benefits, as a nation, we would be able to brag to the world about the abundance of natural and cultural beauty in the country. We would have a bigger sense of pride.

But, just like everything in life, tourism has a downside.

First and foremost, once it thrives in a region, the residents will be too economically dependent on the tourism industry. No matter how big an industry is, its coverage is and will always be limited. Once the dominant industry collapses, the region’s economy will experience free fall; the effect would not be as severe if the economy is more diversified.

Of course, it tends to happen in places where the economies have been fragile from the very beginning, either because of the small population, geographical isolation, or the neglect by the local and/or central governments. But, every famous tourist destination does share the same problem: the tourists themselves.

Their overwhelming presence often makes the locals don’t feel at home in their own turfs, in where they are forced to adapt to the outsiders’ desires. If this problem becomes out of control, it will turn the locals xenophobic and cause social instability.

Of course, instability does not happen to every famous tourist destination. This is one hundred percent purely hypothetical on my part. Theoretically, it can happen. But, that does not mean it has happened or will happen. Even though I am sure some of the locals have grown to dislike the tourists, I don’t know if the dislike has ever caused long-lasting social instability.

But, I am one hundred percent certain the surge of tourists causes physical damages.

Human presence will definitely ruin places that are still natural and loaded with rich histories. Ideally, if one desires absolute conservation, one has to ban tourism altogether. But, if one wants to reap financial benefits from tourism (and I cannot judge those who do) while conserving at the same time, one has to limit the number of visitors.

The restriction will definitely limit the profits. Moreover, even if the risk of damage has become minuscule and the management is effectively implemented, the risk is still there as long as humans are present. We cannot guarantee every single visitor behaves like a civilised human being.

I believe the tourism must go on. But, the activities must be bound by sensible rules if one does not want turn a blessing into a curse.

And we should never be too dependent on that particular industry.

Oh yeah, I also have some words about Peter F. Gontha’s statement regarding Indonesian tourism.

He stated that we should give the tourism spotlights on beaches while sidelining gamelan. His reason? Foreigners prefer beaches over music.

Three reasons why I am disappointing with his statement.

First of all, Indonesia is not the only country with beautiful beaches; they are bountiful in other tropical and subtropical regions. Meanwhile, gamelan can only be found in Indonesia and there aren’t many countries that can boast similar musical instruments. Prioritising attractions that are bountiful in the world will strain our competitiveness.

Second, even if foreigners are admittedly more attracted to beaches, their interest in gamelan is also high. Believe or not, many of us travel overseas because we want to have a taste of foreign cultures. I am sure there are foreigners other than scholars and students who are interested in gamelan.

Third (and most importantly), prioritising beach tourism means we encourage the people to prioritise monetary benefits over everything and we encourage them to perceive their heritage as mere decorations. Satisfying foreigners’ hedonistic desires is more important than preserving our nation’s identity.

I am sure that was not his intention. But, if we put his suggestion into practice, we will encourage the citizenry who is already dismissive about their ancestral heritage to be even more dismissive.

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Was-was akan pariwisata Indonesia

Catatan:

Sebenarnya saya berencana untuk menyerahkan karangan ini untuk perlombaan menulis. Tetapi, karena permasalahan teknis, saya melewati tenggat waktu. Ya, sudahlah.

Jujur, saya was-was dengan industri pariwisata.

Pada satu sisi, saya ingin sekali pariwisata Indonesia maju. Saya ingin sekali setiap tempat-tempat yang memilik potensi dikunjungi oleh para wisatawan. Selain manfaat ekonomis yang sudah pasti akan berlimpah ruah, sebagai bangsa kita juga bisa berunjuk gigi kepada dunia dengan menampilkan keindahan alam dan kebudayaan bangsa yang berlimpah ruah. Kita akan memiliki rasa bangga yang jauh lebih tinggi.

Tetapi, seperti setiap hal dalam hidup, pariwisata juga ada sisi buruknya.

Pertama, sekalinya sukses berjalan di suatu daerah, warga-warga setempat menjadi sangat tergantung pada industri pariwisata di perekonomian mereka. Sebesar-besarnya suatu industri, cangkupannya akan selalu terbatas. Jika sebuah industri yang menonjol tiba tiba tumbang, perekonomian daerah tersebut juga akan terjun bebas; dampaknya tidak akan terlalu gawat jika perekonomiannya terdiri atas sektor-sektor yang jauh lebih beragam.

Tentu saja, kasus seperti itu cenderung terjadi di daerah-daerah di mana kondisi perekonomian sudah rentan sejak awal, entah karena angka penduduk yang sangat rendah, lokasi mereka yang sangat terpencil dan/atau kecilnya perhatian dari pemerintah setempat dan/atau pusat. Tetapi, setiap tujuan wisata terkemuka memiliki satu permasalahan yang sama: wisatawan-wisatawan itu sendiri.

Saking banyaknya mereka yang datang, para warga setempat sering merasa tidak nyaman di rumah sendiri, di mana mereka dipaksa beradaptasi untuk memuaskan kemauan-kemauan orang-orang luar. Jika hal itu tidak terkendali, xenophobia akan tumbuh di dalam hati warga-warga setempat dan menciptakan ketidakstabilan sosial.

Tentu saja, ketidakstabilan tersebut tidak selalu terjadi di setiap tujuan-tujuan wisata terkemuka. Ini adalah pengandaian yang seratus persen berasal dari pemikiran saya sendiri. Secara teoris, hal itu mungkin saja bisa terjadi. Tapi, belum tentu pernah atau akan terjadi. Walaupun saya yakin sebagian warga-warga setempat memiliki rasa tidak suka terhadap para pelancong, saya tidak tahu apakah ketidaksukaan tersebut pernah berujung kepada ketidakstabilan sosial yang berkepanjangan.

Tetapi, saya yakin seratus persen banyaknya pengunjung memberikan dampak kerusakan fisik.

Wilayah-wilayah yang masih dapat dibilang alami dan memiliki nilai sejarah yang tinggi sudah pasti akan dirusak oleh kehadiran manusia. Idealnya, jika kita menginginkan pelestarian yang mutlak, kita harus sepenuhnya melarang pelaksanaan pariwisata.Tapi, jika kita masih ingin meraup keuntungan dari pariwisata (dan saya tidak bisa menghakimi orang-orang yang memiliki keinginan tersebut) dan sekaligus menjalankan pelestarian, kita harus membatasi jumlah pengunjung.

Keuntungan sudah pasti jauh lebih terbatas dengan adanya pembatasan itu. Ditambah lagi, walaupun risiko kerusakan menjadi sangat kecil dan pengurusan dijalankan oleh pihak berwenang dengan baik, risiko itu masih tetap ada selama manusia dibiarkan berkunjung. Kita tidak bisa menjamin setiap manusia yang berkunjung memiliki tindak-tanduk yang beradab.

Menurut saya, pariwisata negara masih tetap harus berjalan. Tapi, kegiatan pariwisata harus dibatasi dengan peraturan yang disusun dengan bijak agar kita tidak merubah berkah menjadi malapetaka.

Dan kita juga jangan terlalu tergantung pada industri tersebut.

Oh ya, saya juga punya komentar tentang pernyataan Peter F. Gontha tentang pariwisata Indonesia.

Beliau mengatakan bahwa kita harus menomorsatukan pantai-pantai sebagai atraksi wisata dan menomorduakan hal-hal yang berbau kebudayaan seperti gamelan. Alasannya? Orang-orang asing lebih suka ke pantai daripada main musik.

Ada tiga alasan kenapa saya kecewa dengan pernyataan beliau.

Pertama, Indonesia bukan satu-satunya negara dengan pantai-pantai yang indah; mereka juga berlimpah-ruah di wilayah-wilayah tropis dan subtropis lainnya. Sedangkan gamelan hanya bisa ditemukan di Indonesia dan hanya sedikit negara yang memiliki peralatan musik yang kurang lebih serupa. Menomorsatukan “tontonan” yang berlimpah di dunia akan membuat negara kita sulit bersaing.

Kedua, walaupun orang-orang asing memang jauh lebih tertarik dengan pantai, minat mereka akan gamelan juga tinggi. Percaya tidak percaya, banyak dari kita yang melancong ke luar negeri karena kita ingin “mencicipi” kebudayaan asing. Saya yakin sekali ada orang-orang asing selain para sarjana dan mahasiswa musik yang tertarik dengan gamelan.

Ketiga (dan menurut saya, alasan yang paling penting), menomorsatukan wisata pantai berarti kita mendorong masyarakat untuk mementingkan keuntungan semata dan menganggap warisan kebudayaan sebagai sekedar hiasan. Memberikan orang-orang asing kenikmatan duniawai jauh lebih penting daripada melestarikan jati diri bangsa.

Saya yakin itu bukan niat beliau. Tapi, jika saran tersebut kita laksanakan, kita akan mendorong anak-anak bangsa yang sudah tidak peduli dengan warisan leluhur untuk menjadi semakin tidak peduli.

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Creating brilliant and cultured human resources in Indonesia

Note:

I initially wanted to submit this essay, which was originally written in Indonesian, to a writing contest. But, because of technicalities, I missed the deadline. Oh, well.

When one talks about the quality of human resources, education is often the first thing that comes to our minds.

It is true that education is the biggest factor. Quality education equals quality human resources. But, what do we mean by quality education?

We all agree discipline is crucial in our learning experiences and, as a nation, we are from disciplined. It would be bizarre to dispute that.

But, what I am going to say will be contentious. I am not sure if many of you will agree with me.

If I say we need to respect those who are more knowledgeable and more experienced than us, you would nod in agreement. But, the problems is many still believe ‘respect’ and ‘worship’ are synonymous with each other.

We love to make Gods out of those people, forgetting they are also ordinary human beings who are prone to any faults. They can make mistakes in their ways of thinking. They may also have ulterior motives and intentionally deceive others for their own benefits.

But, at the same time, we also have the guts to accuse the experts of being know-it-alls. We look down on knowledge and critical thinking. We are proud of our own ignorance and stupidity.

To overcome this issue, we have to teach the incoming generations to think more critically and to be more analytical. Moreover, we have to instill the sense of curiosity, humility and courage to resist falsehood, especially the one regurgitated by people of higher social standings.

If this suggestion is implemented, I am willing to bet the incoming generations would not only possess brilliant minds, but also would not want to trample and be easily trampled on by other people.

I also have another suggestion, a more abstract one: teaching them about the nation’s traditional cultures.

Obviously, many will agree with me. I am definitely not the first Indonesian citizen who yearn about conserving our cultural heritages. But, you must be wondering: what does this have anything to do with human resources?

If a country preserves its traditional culture, it would have a unique identity. If it is blessed with rich cultural diversity, the distinctiveness would be even more striking. If a country has a unique identity, it would be able to create works which are very unlikely to be created elsewhere. In the end, it would stand out on the international stage.

Even if you are an Indonesian who has been culturally westernised and who perceives traditions as backward entities, you would still be benefited by knowing your ancestral heritage.

Besides learning about the history of your ancestors, you would also learn about the life philosophy they held on to. As a result, you would encounter perspectives that you have never considered before. Ideally, you would expand your horizon… and, when combined with good reasoning, you would have easier time generating groundbreaking ideas.

Of course, you could have refuted my suggestion by stating that my dream can be fulfilled without studying Indonesian cultures. But, as I stated before, uniqueness is key.

Western cultures are already emulated all over the world. If you fix your gaze solely towards the west, your ideas would not be different from the ones initiated by foreigners. If the works of Indonesians are similar to the foreign ones, why should other countries make use of Indonesian human resources?

Yes, Indonesians with sufficient skills can still get hired by foreigners. But, if we are only good in professions in which our duty is to simply obey our bosses and/our clients, we would only excel behind the scenes.

Obviously, those behind-the-scenes jobs are also crucial to our lives which we all reap benefits from. Maybe you are already satisfied by our fellow countrymen’s behind-the-scenes success. But, I am not.

As important as those professions are, they can be done by every country on earth. Meanwhile, the ones in which we become the stars on the international stages have been proven difficult to attain. Very few countries have achieved high level of innovation and creativity.

The more we raise Indonesians who are capable of producing ingenious ideas, the easier it would be for us to be take centre stage internationally…

…and, once that is achieved, we as a nation would have successfully used all of our might to achieve a level of triumph which most countries on earth have yet to obtain.

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Menciptakan SDM yang cemerlang dan berbudaya

Catatan:

Sebenarnya saya berencana untuk menyerahkan karangan ini untuk perlombaan menulis. Tetapi, karena permasalahan teknis, saya melewati tenggat waktu. Ya, sudahlah.

Jika kita membicarakan mutu SDM, satu hal yang sering terbesit di pikiran kita adalah pendidikan.

Memang betul pendidikan dapat dikatakan sebagai unsur terpenting dibalik SDM. Pendidikan bermutu, SDM juga akan bermutu. Tapi, apa yang kita maksud sebagai pendidikan bermutu?

Kita semua setuju bahwa disiplin sangatlah penting di pendidikan dan sebagai bangsa, kita jauh dari disiplin. Saya rasa akan aneh jika ada orang yang mau menyanggah pernyataan tersebut.

Tetapi, hal-hal yang akan saya bicarakan mungkin akan menyulut perdebatan. Saya tidak yakin bahwa anda semua akan setuju dengan saya.

Jika saya berkata kita perlu menghormati sosok-sosok yang jauh lebih berilmu dan berpengalaman, banyak dari anda yang akan mengangguk setuju. Tetapi, banyak manusia yang menganggap penghormatan dan penyembahan adalah dua hal yang sama.

Kita cenderung menuhankan sosok-sosok tersebut, lupa bahwa mereka juga manusia-manusia biasa yang juga rentan terhadap kelalaian dan kesesatan. Mereka bisa saja melakukan kesalahan dalam pemikiran mereka. Mereka bisa saja memiliki maksud-maksud tersembunyi dan dengan sengaja membohongi orang lain demi keuntungan sendiri.

Tetapi, pada saat yang bersamaan, kita juga berani-beraninya menuduh para pakar tersebut sebagai orang-orang yang sok tahu. Kita memandang rendah ilmu dan pemikiran kritis. Kita bangga akan ketidaktahuan dan kebodohan kita sendiri.

Untuk mengatasi ini, kita harus mengajari generasi yang mendatang cara-cara berpikir dengan kritis dan meneliti dengan seksama. Lebih penting lagi, kita harus menanamkan rasa keingintahuan, kerendahan diri dan keberanian untuk menentang kebohongan, terutama bila kebohongan tersebut keluar dari mulut sosok-sosok yang berderajat tinggi.

Jika usulan tersebut dilaksanakan, saya berani bertaruh generasi yang akan datang akan menghasilkan SDM yang tidah hanya berotak cemerlang, tapi juga tidak mau menginjak dan dinjak-injak orang lain.

Saya juga punya satu usulan lagi, usulan yang jauh lebih abstrak: mendidik mereka tentang kearifan budaya-budaya tradisional bangsa.

Tentu saja, banyak yang akan setuju dengan usulan saya. Saya sudah pasti bukan satu-satunya warga negara Indonesia yang ingin melestarikan warisan kebudayaan. Tapi, anda pasti bertanya apa hubungannya warisan budaya dengan SDM.

Jika sebuah negara giat melestarikan budaya tradisionalnya, berarti ia memiliki jati diri yang sangat khas; jika negara tersebut diberkahi keragaman budaya yang kaya, kekhasan tersebut akan semakin terasa. Jika negara memiliki jati diri kebangsaan yang khas, ia dapat mencetuskan karya-karya yang kemungkinan besar tidak bisa dihasilkan oleh negara-negara lain. Pada akhirnya, negara menjadi menonjol di pentas mancanegara.

Walaupun anda adalah warga negara Indonesia yang sudah sangat kebarat-baratan dan menganggap tradisi sebagai sesuatu yang terbelakang, mengenali kebudayaan nenek-moyang masih bisa bermanfaat.

Selain memelajari sejarah kehidupan mereka, anda juga dapat memelajari filsafat hidup yang mereka pegang teguh. Alhasil, anda menemui sudut-sudut pandang yang belum pernah anda pertimbangkan. Idealnya, wawasan anda semakin luas…. dan, jika ditambah dengan penalaran yang tajam, semakin mudah bagi anda untuk meluncurkan gagasan-gagasan mutakhir.

Bisa saja anda menangkis usulan saya dengan mengatakan angan-angan saya bisa diraih tanpa memelajari kebudayaan Indonesia. Tetapi, seperti yang saya katakan sebelumnya, kekhasan adalah unsur penunjang.

Kebudayaan yang berbau kebarat-baratan sudah “diteladani” di seluruh dunia. Jika anda hanya berkiblat ke arah barat, gagasan anda tidak akan begitu berbeda dengan yang dicetuskan orang-orang asing. Jika karya-karya anak bangsa tidak begitu berbeda dengan karya-karya luar negeri, untuk apa bangsa-bangsa lain mendayagunakan SDM dari Indonesia?

Sebenarnya bisa saja warga-warga Indonesia diperkerjakan oleh orang-orang asing selama keterampilan kita memadai. Tetapi, jika kita hanya andal di bidang-bidang pekerjaan di mana tugas merek hanya sekedar melaksanakan perintah atasan dan/atau pelanggan, kita hanya akan berguna “di belakang layar”.

Tentu saja bidang-bidang pekerjaan tersebut sangatlah penting bagi kehidupan kita dan hasilnya selalu kita nikmati. Mungkin saja anda sudah cukup puas dengan keberhasilan orang-orang Indonesia di balik layar. Tapi, bagi saya, keadaan tersebut masih belum cukup memuaskan.

Sepenting-pentingnya mata pencaharian tersebut, semua itu dapat dilakukan oleh setiap negara di dunia. Sedangkan mata pencaharian di mana kita bisa menonjol di depan layar mancanegara sudah terbukti sulit dilaksanakan dengan sukses. Hanya segilitar negara yang telah sukses melakukan pembaruan dan daya cipta yang tinggi.

Semakin banyak kita menghasilkan anak-anak bangsa yang bisa mencetuskan gagasan-gagasan mutakhir, semakin mudah bagi kita untuk bisa tampil di depan layar mancanegara…

…Dan, setelah hal itu tercapai, kita telah berhasil mengerahkan ketangkasan bangsa kita ke jenjang kejayaan yang belum berhasil diraih oleh sebagian besar bangsa di dunia.

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The Swede’s rhetoric

I have made a few articles about Felix Kjellberg AKA Pewdiepie and one contains my arguments about how he is actually a reckless edgelord instead of an actual far-right ideologue.

I mention how he never makes excuses for the bigotry of some of his fans, how he was (and still is) slandered by the media and how he only invited one right-wing pundit just to review memes instead of letting him spill verbal diarrhea.

But, for some reasons, I forgot to talk about his own rhetoric.

Below, I am going to list the common talking points of contemporary western conservatives:

1. Equal rights are the same as special rights for women and the minorities

2. Women are happier when they are treated as the “lesser sex”.

3. The Southern Strategy never happened and American Democratic party is still the racist party.

4. Taking down Confederate statues equals erasure of history.

5. The Bell Curve is scientifically legitimate.

6. Any violence committed by Christians of European descent, including the Holocaust, the Trail of Tears, and the Crusades, were either justified, exaggerated or fictional.

7. All Muslims are sleeper cells.

8. The world is controlled by globalist Jewish elites.

9. Sexual violence is a trivial matter, unless they are committed by brown Muslims.

I am sure there are more recurring talking points than I mentioned above. But, those will do.

Disturbingly, I have seen how they often they are “discussed” by conservatives, especially by those who make Youtube videos,some of whom prefer to call themselves classical liberals.

But, from all online personalities who have been perceived as far-right, Pewdiepie is the only one who has never talked about those things.

Seriously, I have never heard him openly or discreetly espousing any of those lies. In fact, he barely touches politics and he never talks about history; his commentaries mostly revolve around the non-political aspects of Youtube culture.

The thing about our bigotry is it cannot be hidden completely, no matter how hard we try, no matter how hard we deny its existence. Even if we are not prone to Freudian slips, our bigotry will appear subtextually in our messages.

I have encountered so many people online who claim to not be bigoted… and yet, if you read their words between the lines, you will notice how hateful they are.

You cannot say you are not a racist when you believe the mere presence of non-whites is the evidence of white genocide. You cannot say you are not a homophobe or a transphobe when you believe LGBT rights discriminate against cisgender and heterosexual people.

But, with Felix, I haven’t seen any far-right subtexts from his online content.

His commentaries are indeed laced with subtexts… classical liberal subtexts; he is all about freeing humans from any excessive constraints, both in social and legal forms. He disapproved of the “policing” of any kind of activities, as long as they are not violent.

Basically, he is the complete opposite of those far-right individuals who are supposedly all about liberty while advocating for taking it away from those who are different from them.

He, the person who never calls himself a classical liberal, is way more classical liberal than the reactionaries who claim to be ones.

About the Christchurch mosque massacre…

Both his name and Candace Owens’s were implicated because they were mentioned by the shooter. The shooter said “subscribe to Pewdiepie”, a meme created by Felix himself, during the live streamed violence while she was cited as his number one ideological inspiration.

And both public figures reacted differently.

Felix was never cited as an inspiration; the shooter mentioned the name of the most popular Youtuber because he wanted more attention.

But, not only Felix immediately condemned the massacre, he pleaded to his fans to end the meme. After his many controversies, after years of being a reckless edgelord, he has realised he has a responsibility as a public figure for every single one of his public actions… and that includes his inherently harmless meme which he created as a tongue-in-cheek response to his rivalry with T-Series.

Owens, on other hand, responded immediately by laughing it off in her dismissive tweet, despite the fact that she is the shooter’s number one inspiration!

I don’t know about her now. But, at that time, it was obvious she did not have any sense of responsibility as a public figure, even though she was famous in the first place because of her politically charged and definitely-not-trivial messages.

She was not that different from Trump who took days to condemn the Charlottesville Neo-Nazi rally attended by his own supporters.

She was not that different from other right-wing public figures who constantly incite bigotry and yet refusing to acknowledge they might have inspired atrocities like the Christchurch massacre.

But, she and her peers are definitely different from Felix Kjellberg.

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