Spirituality and religion (and morality): everlastingly sectarian

Religions

Here I go. So contentious, even the mere mention of those words trigger the delicate snowflakes out of most people. Obviously, I should boost the triggering by defining what spiritual and religion are.

Spirituality has a myriad of definitions. Some see it as the synonym for religiosity. Others see it as a process of fathoming either the universe, the self or both. Others also see it as a guide to find meanings in one’s lives, intrinsic and acquired. Some even believe it is the state of being irreligious. Predictably, they are all personal and abstract. Different case with religion.

Yes, some people do have equally personal and abstract definitions for it. In multiple occasions, Reza Aslan described religion as a language to describe the ‘indescribable’ and the divine. I used to define religion as the literal bridge between the earthly and the spiritual; some people I know still believe that. But, it’s also possible to shape more clear-cut characterisation.

Religion can be understood as a set of ideas and rituals to achieve what the worshippers deem as ‘spirituality’. It can also be seen as a tool for social control, consciously and subconsciously coaxing every reachable feature of a society. Such characterisation is observable in real life. It’s very apparent how universally-accepted definitions are unrealistic. But, instead of reducing our sectarianism, we are increasing it.

Fanaticism. One of mankind’s greatest and most harmful sins. We are extremely in love with our own convictions. Anything that negate them even in the slightest will be dealt with staggeringly-fierce hostility. Seeing the title, you know what kind of fanaticism I’m referring to here. I’ll begin with the one that I used to be guilty of as well: thinking religiosity and spirituality are literally the same thing.

I had that mindset because I was so in love with restrictions. I believed not religiously restraining ourselves in every single aspect of life was a sign of serious moral decay. Of course, I was a hypocrite as my lifestyle was very self-indulging. I also willingly ignored what the other sides had to say.

We often reject the existence of the unendurably suffocating nature of strict religiosity. Even religiosity as a whole can appear so for many people. Like it or not, religiosity has harmed countless individuals, physically and emotionally; the injuries are difficult or even impossible to heal. It’s easy to hate on the so-called ‘infidels’ when you’re not the one being harmed.

We cannot simply dismiss those traumatised people as ‘haters who don’t want believers enjoy profound spirituality’. Our positive experiences are unique to us and not to be used to ‘evaluate’ fellow human beings. Before you accuse me of atheism (as if that was a bad thing in the first place), I’m not completely siding myself with non-believers.

In fact, I still consider myself religious. I also loathe the idea that true spirituality is inherently irreligious. Some unbelieving individuals miserably fail to realise how their positive experiences with irreligiosity are unique to them. I believe them when they say religions repress them. But, I can’t listen to them when they say believers love being repressed.

Some of us genuinely feel religiosity is liberating, not suppressing. Often times, we feel empty and go astray in the world. Religion can be an emotionally-benevolent counsellor, bestowing us the liberty from the worldly abyss and sense of lost. It has nothing to do with loving oppression which, believe it or not, we also loathe as ungodly immoral.

It also has nothing to do with our loathe of reason and science. Some of us still love both. We still use them to understand our earthly surroundings and to intellectually challenge ourselves. Their duties are different from the ones of our beliefs. For us, they cannot be fused together. But, they can make great allies that enrich our innermost lives.

The segments above show my attempt to articulate the contention of spirituality and religion, as objective as I possibly can. Just kidding! I’m neither a journalist nor an academic. I barely made efforts to filter my own biases. So, that being said, I should continue by recounting my personal experiences and pretend they are universally relatable. Let’s start with the ignorance and hypocrisy of my fellow believers.

‘You are not spiritually enlightened!’

‘You are an atheist!’

‘You are immoral!’

There you go. Three of the most common sentences my fellow believers have said to me. If you are open-minded enough, you would immediately notice the problematic nature.

Once again, they’re unable to acknowledge their experiences’ lack of universality. The annoyance become harmful when they start ‘evangelising’. When I said ‘evangelising’, I meant harassing and guilt tripping their victims who have no time for narrow-mindedness.

Also, they use the word ‘atheist’ as an insult. The notion that disbelieve is related to lacking enlightenment and morality is ill-founded. In fact, many atheists have proven themselves to be more enlightened and more moral than those self-righteous believers. Many great thinkers, scientists and artists of the contemporary world are atheists. I’ve never heard of atheists who kill in the name of atheism. Never.

I should be more detailed with this farcicality. I always disclose my Islamic identity and agnostic theism (yes, that’s a thing). Even then, I only do so when it’s relevant to the topic of conversations. I’m muted about my spiritual life. I did try to explain in full details. But, I ended up babbling incoherent assortment of words and feeling extremely naked for exhibiting an intimate aspect of my life. This shows how my spirituality is both inexpressible and private.

Sermons, inspirational stories, joint rituals. Inspiring to me, they are not. Why would they be so? As an individual, I’m free-spirited enough to not fall for superficiality, gooey sentimentality, cliches and guilt-tripping. Free-spirited enough to know what’s spiritually good by myself, without getting dictated by humans who have skin-deep judgment of the true me. Of course, that makes an outcast out of me.

Some people I know believe spirituality is all about bragging and getting easily awed. Don’t do either one and they will accuse you heresy or, in my case, atheism. They think they are shaming me for being a bad person. But, in reality, they are shaming me simply for being different. As always in the case of religious people, there’s hypocrisy.

Those believers are the same ones who condemn extremists for their intolerance of human differences, for their supposedly ‘heretical’ and ‘ungodly’ treatment of fellow human beings. Yet, they shame people like me for having the gut to call ourselves believers. What can I expect living in a country where religiosity is almost inborn?

I have never met openly anti-religious individuals offline. Only met them online. Because of that, my negative experiences with them are lesser in quantity. But, the annoyance and nastiness still disturb my psyche. Yes, like religious people, they can also be hypocrites and zealots.

The hypocrisy arises every time they label religiosity as irrational. Admittedly, there’s a truth in the accusation. But, it’s very hard to take them seriously when they themselves suffer from scientism. They believe science is an authority figure who has all of the absolute truths on its hands. That’s not what science is.

Science is a set of instruments and theories used to methodically study the observable and measurable universe through experimentation; if repeatable, its results may end up as new scientific theories. My definition is unabashedly schematic. But, that’s the best I can do. Besides, if you compare mine with the ones you find on google, you can tell I make out the nitty-gritty.

In principal, science does not manifest and believe in absolute truths. Science is indeed the best medium out there to grasp our material world. But, it is not perfect. The instruments and theories which shape its foundation are – and need to be – upgradeable. If the new ones are more orderly and more sound, why stick with the old ones? Perpetual self-enhancement. That what makes science beautiful.

In case you forgot, what is now pseudo-science wasn’t so long time ago. Geocentrism, astrology, numerology, phrenology, alchemy. At one point in human history, they were all regarded as scientifically valid. Science started as philosophy. But, thanks to all the refinement brought by dedicated and inquisitive scientists, they were all replaced by more solid disciplines. It’s a history rejected by those so-called ‘rational’ disbelievers.

For them, science is an entity whose essence is fixed from the very beginning and will remain so. Those individuals accuse believers of zealotry towards their own beliefs, not realising they are guilty of the same thing. They refuse to acknowledge the existence of critical-minded believers. Yes, we do exist. Believe it or not, some of us are not fanatics. Irrational and hypocritical. Add self-righteousness to the disbelievers and the set is complete!

I will dedicate the next segment on anti-religious atheists. Judging from my personal experiences (emphasise on the word ‘personal‘), they are the non-religious individuals who are guilty of this sin the most.

Again, like believers, some of them love to claim higher moral standing. As stated before, I’ve never heard of atheists killing in the name of atheism. But, if you want to claim something that loaded, make sure that it is an actual reality.

Just give me one evidence that supports such assertion. No, the atrocities committed by believers is not it. The sins of your enemies do not warrant your supposed morality. How you treat your fellow human beings does. Oh and I can prove that immoral atheists exist. Just take a look at communist countries. You know, those officially atheistic countries.

They were good in discriminating, imprisoning and killing anyone not in line with government-approved ideals. As religiosity was not one of them, religious people were among the victims. At certain periods, they were treated like atheists in Muslim countries. Surely, you cannot deny this part of human history.

Yes, I know it’s history. I know we should move on instead. But, history isn’t meant to be forgotten; it’s meant to be a testimony of the true human nature, a testimony in which we can learn a lot from. If you’ve learned from it, you would not quantify a person’s morality from the identity he/she associates with. If you equate atheism with morality, you are on the same league with those religious zealots. No, I won’t stop making that comparison.

Even though I’ve interacted with many anti-religious pricks online, I’ve received only encountered one attack targeted personally to me. One person premised how people have used religions to justify their acts of inhumanity. Therefore, he concluded that every person who still observe a religion willingly tolerate or even partake in inhumanity itself. Yes, he actually said that.

That’s what we call Guilty By Association, which is an actual fallacy and that invalidates his argument. No, I’m not committing fallacy fallacy which refers to invalidating true conclusions based on false premises. In this person’s case, his true premise was followed by a false conclusion. But, this is not what agitates me the most.

He also carried out a nasty ad hominem against me. What he said seemed impersonal. But, he blurted that out while we were having a one-on-one conversation and he specifically said the word ‘you’, insinuated that I also tolerated and partook in religiously-motivated inhumanity. Well……..

People who actually know me will immediately scream ‘bullshit’. I’ve condemned so many forms of religious bigotry and violence. Often times, I’m very vulgar with my condemnation to the point of aggravating religious apologists, who declare non-existing perfection of their religions and religious communities.

Also, I’ve done many bad things in my life, motivated by nouns that end with ‘-phobia’. But, not once I harmed my fellow human beings in the name of Islam. Not even when I was a backward-minded believer! Once again, my religiosity is personal and it never dictated how I treated others. So, what he said about me was false. Yet, his words affect me to this day.

I don’t know why I’m still hurt. I am indeed insecure about myself. But, when it comes to my morality, I am the complete opposite. I also welcome the possibility of me being the immoral one; if you hate self-righteousness, it’s hypocritical to announce yourself as entirely and absolutely moral. Once I detect a hint of immorality in me, I should thrive to eliminate it. Maybe the exasperation I’m having right now is the result of the insult itself.

Well, not really. I’ve been called with many things in my life. Being a loser means abundance of verbal abuse is expected in one’s life. But, admittedly, a handful of them are extremely hurtful. I haven’t found the ‘hurt’ factor yet. But, I often assume the insulters aren’t just trolls. They are genuinely mean-spirited individuals who have deep-rooted desire to make me see myself as a subhuman they think I am.

But, in the end, my own religiosity and spirituality are and will always be my personal matters. No one, not even powerful religious organisations, have the right to intervene. My morality does affect others. But, as long as I’m willing to clean mine every time it gets dirty, I don’t think I have anything to worry about at the moment.

Youtube fans, haters and their imaginary prerogative

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I wrote an article about how Pewdiepie’s fans are horrible. I am fan myself and I have horrid experiences with fellow bros. But, I don’t know why I only focused on that one specific fandom when the others are equally horrid.

Maybe because Pewdiepie was and is currently the Youtuber I watch the most. Maybe because Pewdiepie fandom is so infamous. But then, it’s frustrating how we quickly dismiss the existence of his militant haters.

Haters. Like the zealous fandoms, they are one of Youtube’s cancers. Both are the extreme ends of the spectrum. Both are waste excreted from different orifices of a same person. Both also suffer the same disease: a bulging sense of entitlement.

They believe the entire Youtube community must kneel down and pleasure their nether regions. When excited, their genitalia boast non-existing expertise about what’s good for a group of diverse and many ‘unseen’ individuals. They express their excitement in different yet equally infuriating ways.

One sin that fans always do is forcing their Youtubers to be their besties. Yes, our Youtubers are NOT our friends. Their impacts to our personal lives are indeed inspiring. But, ours do not intertwine with theirs and probably never will. It’s still a tough truth to sell.

Fans want their favourite Youtubers stark naked and touch every inch of the bare skins as they desire. Their idols are nothing but emotionless piles of flesh, blood and bones who are destined to please the lustful ego of complete strangers. If they aren’t treated like sex toys, they are treated like puppets.

Retar…I mean, fans believe they are ever-powerful Gods and Youtubers are their subjects. They believe they have the complete creative control to the channels. Heck, they even think they can impose draconian rulings on the Youtubers’ personal lives! You can get attacked simply for dating the ‘wrong’ person (e.g. Jacksepticeye) or for not coming out (Joey Graceffa). Then, the haters chime in.

They declare themselves as being more sophisticated and more moral than the fandoms. In fact, they use this as a justification to hate certain Youtubers. Of course, that does not hold ground for two reasons:

First, Youtubers aren’t always responsible for their fans’ actions; some behaviours are simply beyond the former’s control. Second, the haters are equally rabid bunch of degenerates.

The most obvious haters’ sin is…their hate. They waste their precious time searching for Youtubers they hate, clicking their videos and posting cancerous comments. They even express their hatred in comment section of videos…created by different and sometimes unrelated Youtubers! What is their ‘rationale’ for this?

Well, they believe the expression of hatred will lead to the Youtubers’ downfall. Hatred will bring negative energy to their channels. In the end, destruction is inevitable. It does make sense…for the most simplistic of all minds. Instead of weakening them, the Youtubers end up getting stronger.

Clicking their videos literally means giving them more views. More views means more money. More money means more power. One can use money to obtain higher status and more fame! That’s the truth about life! Wait, that’s not all.

Haters also forget that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. I am a Pewdiepie fan because of the haters. They are the ones who introduce me to him! They keep spamming comment sections with his name. Curiosity made me check his channel and a bro I am now. I am genuinely grateful for the haters.

In fact, many of my fellow bros are! Giving lots of attention to Youtubers is almost akin to nourishing them with free ads. More subscribers also means more power. With many strangers adoring you, it is relatively easy to defend yourself. But, what if the attention does not give them more followers?

They may or may not get more. If they don’t, it still doesn’t matter. We often forget that Youtubers are media and communication people. They are savvy in both fields. They can use their fame their advantage. Their skill is their power. If they want to, they can topple world governments. Again, thank you hater, whose stupidity doesn’t stop there.

They love to denounce content creators of certain flaws. Obviously, valid criticism is important; everyone needs it to be a better individual, personally and professionally. But, the validity kills itself when the criticism is laced with hypocrisy.

They condemn the Youtubers they hate certain flaws…while openly praising their favourite Youtubers who clearly ALSO have those flaws! If you have a proudly blind sense of judgement, don’t get pissed when others dismiss your words; it’s their moral right. I am still not done, yet.

Those haters, no matter how annoying they are, are very harmless. Deal with them like one deals with overly-pampered toddlers. But, some are worryingly more dangerous as they bring their hatred to an atrocious level: slander.

They are so tightly cocooned by their hatred, their heads will come up with horrible lies, camouflaged them as truths and post them online. Unsurprisingly, they cannot present a single evidence to support their claims. Well, they think they can; for them, ‘hatred’ is literally the best evidence a person can have. Unfortunately, gullibility is a widespread social disease.

Present a handful of shit and a swarm of flies will gobble it up. They will do so either because it satisfies their repulsive, ingrained taste buds or they are simply starving and will devour anything they stumble on. Both are convinced of its supposedly refined taste. Then, they proceed to throw the shit to other people’s faces, including the slander victims.

One may say that slander is mere words; we should just ‘man up’ and not let ourselves hurt by it. Slander is literally harmless, they say. Well, that’s easy to say if you are not the victim.

Before Wall Street Journal falsely accusing him of anti-Semitism (and still haven’t apologised for it), Pewdiepie had been accused of stealing charity money and beating his own girlfriend. Even John Green of the Vlogbrothers was accused of being a sexual pervert who ‘loved’ teens. Those accusations are so horrible, they can potentially ruin lives. Haters who do this should be taken seriously.

So, what cause haters to do all of these? Well, as I said earlier, just like those rabid fans, haters have a bulging sense of entitlement. Like those fans, haters think everyone in the Youtube community are destined to be their personal slaves who indulge every single one of their desires. They literally cannot accept that they aren’t the only people who matter.

No, I am not saying that we should keep our mouths shut. We can, and should, give creative suggestions to our favourite Youtubers. Heck, I even believe we can give advices for their personal lives. Yes, it is true that Youtubers can’t live without us fans. But, we should also remember that we were attracted to them in the first place because of the uniqueness of their individuality.

We can, and should, also give stern criticism to the Youtubers we hate. Heck, I even believe we can give ‘harsh’ comments (mind the air quotes). But, our criticism should be bound by reasons and facts, not our feelings. The rule still applies even when they spit out shameless prejudice. Don’t be a hater. Don’t be an SJW. Be a critic.

Yes, I know that ‘traditional’ celebrities have also been harassed by rabid fans. But, digital media platforms like Youtube give wider access for us to interact with our idols; the wall between us and them is a a lot thinner. This digital metaphysics worries me. I fear that it makes us even more prone to suffer from delusions, believing that we have actual intimacy with our idols.

Speaking about the personal nature of Youtube, the website gives us freedom that ‘traditional’ media lacks: we can choose to watch any videos we want. Don’t like a Youtuber? All you have to do is to NOT clicking his/her videos! It’s that simple! You’re not forced to watch videos you hate.

Youtube does suggest you videos; even then, those videos are very likely related to the ones you frequently watch. Maybe they have similar styles or content. Maybe the creators are acquainted to the ones you are subscribing to. So, don’t get angry when you’re suggested videos of your hated Youtubers. In fact, you have so much freedom there, you literally have no reasons to be a hater.

I don’t know how end this article.

So, the end?

The seas, the seas and the seas

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There are reasons why I love the seas.

First, seafood. I love it as much as I love the meat of land critters. Love it more than fresh water ones. Tastes extremely varied: savoury, sweet, pungent. For me, the fishiness is a lot more tolerable than muddied-water taste of fresh water fish. Seafood also makes perfect seasoning. Too bad it’s relatively scarce. I can talk about this whole day long.

But, nourishment isn’t the only one. For years, I’ve been having this inexplicable desire to live near the sea. No, this has nothing to do with my love of seafood.

Living near the sea doesn’t guarantee its abundance and quality. Not every cubic of seawater is biologically vibrant. The water’s rough for fishermen. Marine aquaculture is a difficult practice. Marine pollution is constant. So, why do I have such desire?

Well, the prospect of a thoroughly landlocked living unnerves me. My entire life, I was never that faraway from the sea. Sometimes, it did take hours to reach the nearest beach. Even then, it was more about the traffics than the distances themselves. Also, Indonesia is the biggest archipelago in on earth. My upbringing is an obvious contributing factor.

It’s one reason why I’m reluctant to live in continental countries. Many of their cities are inland, way inland. Chicago and Toronto, for examples, aren’t that far from the Great Lakes. But, they are lakes. Even saltwater ones won’t do much for me. They have to be wide open seas. I can’t imagine living far from them.

Actually, I can. In my mind, such inland living would feel isolating. The bigger it is, the more intense the feeling would be. I would be literally insane! Pure paranoia, caused by my emotional dependence on the seas…

…And I just used the ‘crazy’ card. As volatile as I am, I don’t suffer from any emotional disorders. Besides, I have never actually lived right next to a sea. I barely have any mental mementos from the beaches. Emotional dependence doesn’t make sense in my case. So, why am I attracted to those foul-smelling bodies of water?

Their spirits, maybe? Why would I be enticed by those personally unfeasible and revolting entities in the first place? Metaphysics always encourages me to see beyond the unappealing and deceptive physicality.

For start, our understanding about the deep sea is minuscule compared to the outer space one. We know little about the critters living down there. The ones we’ve discovered are usually grotesque and alien. So, why is marine biology significant here? It deals with actual physicality. It’s not metaphysical. Well, the question’s already answered…twice.

We know little about deep sea critters and the ones we know are often grotesque and alien. The marine spirits still exude strong mysterious and freakish auras. Things I easily fall for.

I love mysteries. I love to be ‘tormented’ by overwhelming curiosity. The sensation encourages me to not take knowledge for granted, to be humble about my understanding of life, to always be keen about learning.

I also love the ‘grotesque’ and the ‘alien’. They call out my judgy temperament, rebel against the mist of traditionalism that still plagues my mind, challenge what I perceive as ‘normal’. Who knows? Maybe I’ll end up loving them.

How can I expand my horizon when I’m already satisfied by its narrow vastness? How can I improve my vision when I’m comfortable with my worn-out lenses? We eagerly dismiss the mysterious and the offbeat as cock-teasing and ‘abnormal’, respectively. It’s destructive to our state of mankind, more than we like to admit.

As much as I’m captivated by the marine spirits, they also taunt me. They make me feel vulnerable as a living being. I said something about how I have actually never lived right next to the sea. Well, I want to keep that way.

Visiting a beach is different from living on one. Living there means you’re at the sea’s mercy. You’ll be among the first pitiful humans to suffer its wrath. But, living further inland won’t make you safer. The sea still can torment you from faraway, albeit slightly less cruelly. Only slightly. I’m willingly submit myself to one rightful authority that is nature.

Nature. As a whole entity, it is an almighty menace that radiates mysterious and freakish charm…similar to my illustration of the seas. So, my sentiment to every territory in nature should be alike. Yet, the seas are the only ones that greatly shape my metaphysics.

Don’t get me wrong. I also appreciate the other territories. I acknowledge their innate power on mankind. But, except for the outer space, none of them evoke equally compelling (and pretentious) sentiment from me. As I have said many times, the seas, the seas and the seas.

I always thought the reasons for my marine obsession are too enigmatic to unearth. That or I let the spirits haunt my life, turning me too dainty about my dwelling. Either can be true. Can be.

Perhaps I deem myself too admiringly. Perhaps I love to perceive myself as a profound and mystifying individual who grasps what others fail to, whom others fail to hold in high esteem. The mirror I have been using all my life is possibly an illusive one.

I love seafood. I have very mild emotional dependence on the sea. They are equally valid as the probably causes. I shouldn’t be belittling just because of their supposed futility. I’m a humbug. Bear in mind how I loathe humans who belittle the ‘mysterious’ and the ‘grotesque’.

Intellectualism is a must…and so is being down-to-earth.

The Three NCISes

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NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans. Currently my biggest guilty pleasures, among things like Bones, fried foods and human indecency.

They are escapist works. Formulaic plots, some archetypal characters and cheap laugh. They cheer me up every time I need it. No thinking needed.

Yeah, that’s not true. I believe that even the most lowbrow entertainment can have highbrow moments. The three NCISes aren’t even among the most lowbrow.

Each doesn’t have equal depth, though. Some have more of it than the others. NCIS is the deepest among the three. I can’t tell which one’s the most shallow: NCIS: LA or NCIS: NO.

I have love and hate relationship with NCIS: LA. It’s more fun and deeper than NO. It’s the most upbeat of all three…and also the most annoying.

There’s something off about the cheap laughs moments. I don’t know what. Maybe I feel they’re too frequent or too forced. I don’t always laugh at the jokes. The pretentiousness is even more unbearable.

Obviously, the three NCISes revolve mostly around the US navy. But, the NCIS: LA is the only one of the three that worships it.

US Navy is portrayed as the only moral institution and being its ‘haters’ instantly make you immoral or, at least, worthless to the society.

That’s not healthy devotion to an institution, that’s a harmful fetish. If you can’t see the flaws in your object of admiration, you’re proudly irrational or, worse, delusional. From that point, you need a shrink ASAP.

I said something about stereotypical characters. Well, they include Muslim ones. Most of them are portrayed as extremists. They define the overall image of Muslims in the show.

Yes, there are a handful of peaceful ones. But, their voices are always muffled. The extremists’ are more audible. Unsurprising with the megaphones they have. Just like their real-life counterparts….

Loudening their voices means you validate them. You are half-way to be their accomplishes and the enemy of peaceful Muslims for spitting on our faces.

Yes, I know I’m being too harsh on it. Sometimes, entertainment is just what it is: entertainment. But, at the same time, I also believe in media responsibility. So, I’m conflicted about this.

Despite everything, it still has moments of psychological depth, even among the goofy characters. They encourage contemplation.

Contemplation. It isn’t something you get from NCIS: NO. Don’t get me wrong. I love how the show is shot on-location.

It may not greatly portray New Orleans. At least, culturally, it’s more authentic than most scripted Hollywood shows. It’s way less plastic…

…and that’s it. I can’t think of anything else to praise about the show. Other than a source of entertainment, it’s as good as an empty coconut shell.

I find that odd. It brings up more real life problems than NCIS: LA does. It has many emotionally-intense moments. Yet, the show means nothing to me. I believe immersion’s the problem.

There’s no invitation for immersion in its social consciousness and emotions. Instead, we are encouraged to be normal spectators. Normal. For me, that’s the other dirty N word.

That’s a shame. With better immersion, this show would be a marvelous experience. Social grittiness with emotional realism. Being entertaining isn’t a good excuse for snubbing them.

The original NCIS show stands taller than those two. For me, it’s always the best in the franchise. But still, quality show it is not.

I cringe at the poor visual aesthetics with its eyesoring cinematography and excessive camera movements. Call me patronising. But, it feels like they barely tried. The other two shows do way better.

Despite being a great annoyance, the horrid visuals is underwhelmed by the social and emotional immersion. I almost wanted to say “depth” instead of “immersion”.

Social issues are frequently shown in the show. But, they’re not thought-provokingly conveyed. No social grittiness as well. But, they do exist.

Exist. They aren’t just the writers’ sick imagination. The show convinces me that they exist in real life as well. It wants me to acknowledge their existence and the problems they bring.

Deep emotions also exist. But, again, they’re not intelligently conveyed. No Bergmanesque drama with emotionally potent scenes. Yet, I still can feel the emotions myself. Maybe the writers are good with emotions.

Or maybe, the writers know how to make lovable characters. No matter how annoyed by them at times, I still love them to bits! Well, everyone except Kate. I’m glad she’s dead.

I don’t know the secret of their lovableness. Maybe the writers know how to pander to the audience. They know how to make me happy. But, I have my own theory.

Each character is like an infinite magical onion. When we think we know them, they manifest another seemingly-fresh layer of their individuality. Even long-time characters still surprise me to this day…

…Including Leroy Jethro Gibbs himself, one of the show’s stars. He is a proud ex-marine who doesn’t believe ex-marines exist, sees the US Navy as honourable and still maintains military discipline. But, he is not a blind fanatic.

He’s always the first person in the show who lambast his fellow marines for their lack of honour. He believes being a marine isn’t a free pass for embracing human indecency. Gibbs’ attitude towards them shapes the show’s perspective.

The US Navy is seen as neither virtuous nor shameful. It’s both. We are shown marines who possess strength and sense of humanity bigger than anyone who brag about having them…

…and we’re also shown marines who possess cowardice, deceitfulness and self-interest so big, it’s a wonder that they become marines in the first place. Some soldiers are never heroic.

Their portrayal is too dualistic. But, it genuinely changes the way I view the military. I used to think it was a place for overtly-rigid people who tolerate violence.

I still think such people exist in the institution. But now, I also believe that sensitive and peace-loving ones also exist there and I had been ignoring them all my life.

I know, I know. It’s a pathetic way to be enlightened. I should’ve known better that stereotypes, more of than not, feast on our delusional biases. I often let my darker side taking over.

I said something about media’s social responsibility. From how much I’ve changed, I can say that NCIS embraces it. Someone or some people off-screen believe in such responsibility. Why can’t the NCIS: LA be the same?

Oh and one last thing I love about NCIS: the characters’ interpersonal relationship. It is positively dynamic with a combination of honesty, healthy competition, banters, respect and warm camaraderie. It warms up my dark, cold heart.

I always crave such relationship. Mine are often volatile. I have better ones with my online friends. Even then, there are a few but noticeable bumps on the road. Again, it’s sad how dependent I am on a TV show.

…..

Obviously, I’ve singled out who is the winner among the three. NCIS is the one that arms me up the most. But, it may be unfair of me.

It is the eldest of the siblings, at fourteen years of age. NCIS: LA and NCIS: NO are eight and three years old, respectively.

From eight seasons of the former, I’ve only watched one and a half of them. I barely give the show a chance. The latter is still a baby. I need to wait more.

This shows the possibility of me being wrong. If I watch more episodes, I would probably change my mind about them. Who knows? I may end up loving either one even more.

But then, I was immediately hooked by NCIS at my first episode. I watched the other two in the first place because they are parts of the franchise. Besides, 20 episodes should be more than enough for me to judge a show’s overall quality.

So, the chance of me changing my mind is minuscule.

Overt infatuation with politeness

Ahok, one of the men who run for the next governor of Jakarta, is a controversial figure. A Christian political leader of Chinese descent in a Muslim and non-Chinese majority currently afflicted by sectarianism. His presence alone is enough to cause a stir.

As horrible as the intolerance itself, it’s not the only “criticism” againts Ahok that I find “unfounded”. Many are offended by his crassness and lack of politeness. For them, it’s more than enough to defame him.

They don’t care if a politician is corrupt, greedy or power-hungry. They only care about his/her politeness, how he/she sees fame among the masses is more important than competence and integrity. Ahok is the complete opposite.

Ahok is willing to publicly berate anyone who actually deserve it. For him, frankness, leadership competence and dignity are much more important than popularity among people who are easily duped by masks of pretence.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I hate manners. In fact, I deem them extremely valuable. We cannot treat people carelessly. Every single one of our actions must have protocols. But, the problem arises when we use them as justification for horridness.

Politness and dishonestly are considered synonymous. Being frank is rude. That’s a shallow way of thinking. If that’s what you believe, what you desire is actually pretence harmony.

“Harmony” isn’t born out of genuine respect, but out of spinelessness about being open. Honesty can expose the plague of fakeness in our life. Those of us who love the status quo see it as impoliteness and the source of “disharmony”. This degeneracy of the mind doesn’t stop there.

There is also a belief that politeness also means not saying anything negative about the powerful. Once again, if you think that way, you don’t want politeness. What you want is mass worshipping of the high rankers.

You make Gods out of them, more than you do with your actual Gods. You are unwilling to let them “hurt” by even the most constructive criticism. You will do anything to protect your objects of worship. In fact, you support sanctions against those critics. In the end, you are henchmen to oppression.

Maybe you think I am over-reaching. I admit that is hard to comprehend to anyone who are already used with worshipping their fellow human beings. Maybe you also agree with what I am saying here, not realising you maybe also guilty of it. Once again, this degeneracy doesn’t stop here.

You also think politeness is everything. It’s the only thing worth praising from an individual. You don’t bother to dig deeper about someone. You are easily fooled by the mask that hides his/her uglier side.

You don’t believe politeness and incompetence. You even don’t believe a polite individual can also be filled with immorality. Your love of politeness makes you blind.

That’s a dangerous mindset. If you have the right to vote, you would fill important positions with creatures whose only asset is manners. No skills. No morality. In order to protect your fragile feelings, you are willing to sacrifice the society who has to be governed by spitefulness.

As I have said before, I uphold politeness. I believe every single one of our interactions must be bound by rules. But, once again, you must have high standard. You must demand that politeness to be accompanied by professional competence, honesty and sincerity of the heart. Don’t be a shallow being.

Before I end my rant, some of you think this article is pro-Ahok propaganda; its topic is just a disguise. Well, you are half right.

I am not paid by his campaigning team. I am writing this article willingly, with or without getting paid. I am an actual Ahok supporter, even though I don’t reside in Jakarta.

For me, he does have a crude behaviour…and also leadership skill that is proven to be solid. All of the condemnations against him (apart from his crudeness) are proven to be bullshits. All of them are based on dishonesty.

Like him, I also spend a large chunk of my life living in Sumatra. Sumatrans are infamous for our crudeness (my Java-raised mom puts an importance on politeness). But, I also learn how we should judge people based on their “insides”. Their exterior is, more of than not, deceiving.

Besides, Ahok is aware of his flaw and he makes efforts to improve himself.

Keterlenaan berlebihan akan sopan santun

Ahok adalah manusia yang penuh kontroversi. Seorang pemimpin politik beragama Nasrani keturunan Tionghoa di negara mayoritas Muslim dan non-Tionghoa yang sedang dilanda penyakit-penyakit SARA. Kehadirannya saja sudah cukup untuk menyulut masalah.

Seburuknya ketiadaan toleransi tersebut, itu bukan satu-satunya “kritikan” terhadap Ahok yang saya anggap “tidak berbobot”. Banyak orang merasa tersinggung dengan kekasaran dan ketidaksantunannya. Bagi mereka, itu sudah lebih dari cukup untuk mencoreng namanya.

Mereka tidak peduli jika seorang politikus korup, serakah atau gila kuasa. Mereka hanya peduli dengan kesopan-santunannya, betapa ia menganggap ketenaran di khayalak lebih penting dari pada kemampuan memimpin dan harga diri. Ahok adalah kebalikan dari semua itu.

Ahok lebih suka mencaci orang-orang yang memang pantas dicaci maki di muka umum. Baginya, keterbukaan akan diri yang sebenarnya, kemampuan memimpin dan harga diri jauh lebih penting dari pada ketenaran di antara orang-orang yang gampang tertipu dengan topeng-topeng kepalsuan.

Tentu saja, itu bukan berarti saya membenci tata krama. Bahkan, saya menganggap itu sebagai hal yang bernilai tinggi. Kita tidak bisa memerlakukan orang lain dengan seenaknya. Semua tindakan kita harus aturan mainnya. Tetapi, permasalahan muncul saat tata krama dijadikan sebagai pembenaran hal-hal yang buruk.

Sopan santun dan ketidakjujuran dianggap sebagai dua hal yang sama. Berterus terang dianggap kasar. Itu adalah pola pikir yang dangkal. Jika anda berpikir seperti itu, berarti yang sebenarnya anda inginkan adalah keserasian palsu.

“Keserasian” terjadi bukan karena rasa hormat yang tulus, melainkan karena ketidakberanian untuk berterus terang. Kejujuran dapat menyingkap wabah kepalsuan di kehidupan kita. Kita yang mencintai status quo menganggap kejujuran sebagai ketidaksantunan dan sumber “perpecahan”. Kehinaan pikiran tersebut tidak berhenti di situ.

Ada anggapan bahwa kesantunan juga berarti tidak mengungkapan kata-kata miring terhadap pihak yang berkuasa. Sekali lagi, jika anda berpikir seperti itu, anda tidak menginginkan kesantunan. Anda menginginkan penyembahan massal terhadap orang-orang yang berpangkat lebih tinggi.

Anda menuhankan mereka, lebih dari anda menuhankan tuhan anda sendiri. Anda tidak rela jika mereka ”tersakiti” oleh kritikan yang paling membangun sekalipun. Apapun akan anda lakukan untuk melindungi sembahan anda. Bahkan, anda mendukung pemberian sanksi kepada para kritikus. Pada akhirnya, anda adalah kaki tangan penindasan.

Mungkin anda berpikir saya terlalu mengada-ada. Saya akui hal ini sulit dipercaya bagi anda yang sudah terbiasa menyembah sesama manusia. Mungkin anda setuju dengan pernyataan saya, tanpa sadar anda mungkin juga melakukan hal yang sama. Sekali lagi, kehinaan ini belum berhenti di situ.

Anda juga berpikir kesantunan adalah segala-segalanya. Itu adalah satu-satunya yang pantas dipuji dari seseorang. Anda tidak mau bersusah payah untuk menilai seseorang lebih dalam. Anda dengan mudahnya tertipu oleh topeng yang menutupi sisi buruk seseorang.

Anda tidak percaya bahwa seseorang dapat menyandang kesantunan dan ketidakmampuan secara bersamaan. Bahkan, anda tidak percaya bahwa seorang yang santun bisa dipenuhi dengan kenistaan moral. Kecintaan terhadap kesantunan membuat anda buta.

Itu adalah pola pikir yang berbahaya. Jika anda memiliki hak untuk mencoblos, anda akan mengisi jabatan-jabatan penting dengan makhluk-makhluk yang hanya bermodal santun. Keahlian nol. Kebajikan nol. Demi melindungi perasaan-perasaan anda yang mudah tersinggung, anda rela mengorbankan masyarakat yang harus dipimpin oleh kebrobrokan.

Seperti yang saya katakan sebelumnya, saya menjunjung tinggi kesantunan. Saya beranggap bahwa interaksi kita dengan sesama manusia harus ada aturan mainnya. Tetapi, sekali lagi, anda harus memiliki patokan yang tinggi. Anda harus menuntut agar kesantunan diiringi dengan kemahiran dalam bekerja, kejujuran dan ketulusan hati. Janganlah menjadi manusia yang dangkal.

Sebelum saya mengakhiri omelan, sebagian dari anda pasti berpikir bahwa artikel ini adalah propaganda kampanye Ahok; pokok pembicaraan di sini hanyalah kedok. Anda setengah benar.

Saya tidak dibayar oleh tim kampanye Ahok. Saya dengan rela menulis artikel ini, dibayar ataupun tidak. Saya memang adalah pendukung Ahok, walaupun saya tidak tinggal di Jakarta.

Menurut saya, beliau memang memiliki perangai yang kasar…dan juga kemampuan memimpin yang terbukti kokoh. Kecaman-kecaman tentang Ahok (kecuali tentang ketidaksantunannya) terbukti penuh omong kosong. Mereka semua hanyalah berdasarkan keculasan.

Seperti Ahok, saya juga menghabiskan sebagian besar hidup saya di Sumatra. Orang-orang Sumatra memang terkenal akan perangai kita yang buruk (ibu saya yang besar di Jawa sangat mementingkan sopan santun). Tetapi saya juga belajar bahwa penilaian orang harus ditekankan pada “isi” mereka. Bentuk luar mereka lebih sering menipu.

Lagi pula, Ahok juga sadar akan kekasarannya dan dia berusaha untuk lebih baik.

Meet the silent ones

Meet Mr. A.

He is an out-of-touch, immoral hedonist. A stands for asshole. All he does is indulging in low brow entertainment. He is never involved in any activism. He never talks about important issues. He thinks life is too short to worry about them.

Meet Ms. B.

She is heartless and selfish. B stands for bitch. She wastes her parents’ money because she wants to punish them with poverty. She never does anything to please others. Every time her mother cries, she never does anything to console her. She is never saddened by her relatives’ death. Everything has to be all about her.

Meet Mr. and Mrs. C.

They are Muslim extremists. C stands for c*nts. They come from extremist families that they have yet to denounce. They never condemn groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda. They are anti-semites. They work together with radical clerics. They complain too much about anti-Muslim bigotry and never about the Islamic one. Mrs. C wears the hijab because she is forced by her family and husband. They vilify Muslim reformers. As residents of the western world, they sure are ungrateful.

You do understand them. When I said “them”, I meant the masks they are wearing…which you brutally and heartlessly nail on their faces. Let us take them off gently and see the true faces:

Meet Mr. A.

His hedonism does not -and will never- prevent him to be moral. In fact, he is more moral than his detractors. He actually cares about the horror of his world. He hasn’t done anything because he doesn’t know where to start his activism. He is quiet about many issues because he is smart enough to realise their complexity.

Meet Ms. B.

She wastes her parents’ money because she keeps failing college courses. Too sinful to be forgiven but not ill-intentioned. She has made attempts to please others…which are never appreciated. She never consoles her crying mother…because she didn’t hear her crying. Oh and her mother is an attention-seeking bitch. Ms. B is saddened by deaths. But, unlike most humans (who feel reservedness is a sin), she prefers to hold the tears back; exuberance cringes her.

Meet Mr. and Mrs. C.

They are very progressive Muslims. They are activists who fight for a peaceful and tolerant Muslim world. They are hated by their fellow Muslims, including their own families. They receive death threats from both Muslims and non-Muslims. Of course, they complain a lot about anti-Muslim bigotry: they have been enduring it for years! All of the horrible things about them? All false! The media and the Muslim “reformers” who pander to anti-Muslim bigots keep slandering them. They cannot accept how the couple have their own way of tackling problems. Oh and Mrs. C started wearing hijab before she met Mr. C, who believes in choices.

….

They are always silent about their good sides. Why? Well, unlike most you, they don’t see the need in advertising them. They do good things because their hearts are genuine. If you need to advertise, you are nothing but a bloody lump of human insincerity. The silent ones may be better than you.

Three types people…and why they hate Pokemon Go

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*puts on a mask*

Moral activists:

Pokemon Go is another form of entertainment! As Daan Achmad eloquently expressed in I am (self-)righteous, entertainment is evil! Not only it detracts us from reality, It also encourages us to ignore it completely! You are literally awarded for apathy of human suffering! Like Achmad, We are also literally psychics. We know what those entertainment junkies think and feel 24/7. Don’t you dare question us! We have a big ego to maintain!

Cool people:

Pokemon G makes nerd culture look better! That really hurts our feelings! We bully nerds and nerd culture because they were all about cultural and technological sophistication. You know, things that do not contribute to anything civilisations. But, this atrocity appears, encouraging nerds to be more social and physically active! They and their stinkin’ culture become our equals! If we don’t have anyone and anything to bully, how are we going to hide our own insecurity?

Conservative Muslims:

Pokemon is Jewish! It is created to poison the mind of Muslims! It is not a Japanese creation because Japan is not an existing country. It is a cover-up created by Israel. Just listen to the dialogues in Pokemon TV series, rewind them…and you can hear Yiddish. Yes, Yiddish, the official language of the Zionist state! I can deal corruption, violence, extremism and rape; there is nothing morally wrong with them. Jewishness, however, represents everything wrong with the world. It is literally the most immoral thing on earth!

*takes off the mask*

I am (self-)righteous

*puts on a mask*

I don’t understand why people don’t want to be righteous. I have been trying to win their hearts for years! Am I doing things wrong? Or are they just assholes who are selfish down to their rotten cores? I am sure it is latter. Just like peace and tolerance, righteousness can be forced.

I always brag about mine. People have to know that I have one! I show it every time I have the chance, even when we are discussing irrelevant things. I even show them about the righteousness of others. I make them listen about it all the time. I also command them to do charitable acts; they have to do those first before I do. I am harassing them? So fucking what? In fact, this kind of harassment is a beautiful thing that one must uphold. But, how people reacted is so horrid, it is borderline immoral!

Instead of listening to me, a person of greater morality, they blast me for extreme arrogance. How offensive! I actually cried because of those hurtful words! Afterward, they go back to their “worthless” activities AKA indulging in low brow entertainment like Pokemon Go. It is no secret that they are nothing but immoral subhumans. How do I know? My righteousness instantly gives me a super power to read everyone’s mind. I am literally a psychic (and I actually use the word “literally” properly). I literally can read their minds. What? You want me to prove it? I don’t have a time for this perverted sin called “doubt”. Just take my word for granted if you still have a speck of decency. I am better than you, you hear me?

It is also unbelievably inferior of them that they support different causes. Mine are much more important than theirs! So what if my causes are personal for me and theirs are personal for them? Once again, I am the most superior human being in the universe! Everything that anything to do with me is always more moral.

Actually, as long as you love fine arts and demonise low brow entertainment, you are a person of dignity just like I am. Fine arts is ALWAYS full of depth and morality. It is proven by the word “fine” on its name. If fine arts is overrated, then explain why a great person such as I love it? I literally make love with it every single day. Better than sex with humans. Loving fine arts equals being an activist 24/7. Loving low brow entertainment equals murdering babies.

Wait, I just realised that I am talking about self-righteousness, not righteousness. They are supposedly two different things. But, I think the differences are not that great, right?

Right?

*takes off the mask*