Actually growing up multicultural

I have encountered so many westerners who either brag or complain about how their western countries are the world’s diversity hotspots, with MAGA Americans being the loudest.

I always counter them with the data which clearly indicates otherwise. In fact, because I have too much time on my hands, I wrote an entire blog about it.

Months laters and I still encounter those people to this day, making the same predictable talking points. The more I encounter them, the more I disappointed in myself, though.

Almost all of them act like they know how it feels to live a multicultural life. I am disappointed in myself because I have been noticing that for a while… and yet, I haven’t written about it.

Overall, it does not make any sense. How experienced you are with other cultures is not determined by their mere presence around you; it is determined by your interactions (or the lack thereof) with the people. You can live in one of the most diverse places on earth and still trapped inside a cultural bubble. For your information: New York City is (not was) infamous for its segregated schools.

In fact, not only they are too proud of themselves, they tried to discredit me as a bubble dweller who know nothing about the outside world.

Yeah, about that…

My Indonesian hometown Batam has not one but five dominant ethnic groups (due to it being a planned city) and, while being predominantly-Muslim, churches and Buddhist temples are easy to find; it is also very close to Singapore and Malaysia, making it one of Indonesia’s gateways to the outside world. I have lived in two cities in the Jakarta metro area, which many Indonesians migrate to and also one of the country’s gateways to the world. I also lived in Melbourne for about a year.

I, an indigenous Indonesian Muslim, attended a middle school where the student body was predominantly Chinese-Indonesian -whose religious affiliation was Buddhist (and possibly also Taoist and Confucian)- and many of the teachers were Filipinos, with one American and one Aussie. My high school also reflected my city’s demographics: visible Christian and Buddhist minorities and multiple dominant ethnic groups. I briefly attended an Indonesian university which attracted students from all over the country. I graduated from an Australian university with an international student body.

Apart from Australia, Singapore and Malaysia, I have also visited other foreign countries like Thailand, New Zealand, China (Hong Kong included), Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Palestina, the US, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Czechia, Austria, Hungary and Switzerland.

On Facebook, my social circle consists mostly of foreigners and there are lots of times when I get myself reprimanded for resorting to cultural stereotypes.

How is that for a bubble dweller?

After realising how culturally-rich my upbringing was and interacting with so many misguidedly proud westerners, I learn two lessons about what it means to be a multicultural individual.

Lesson one: being multicultural is not about simply enjoy cuisines and arts from other cultures. It is actually interacting with the people we divisively refer to as the “others”.

And I am not talking about professional situations; I am talking about ones where we interact because we sincerely enjoy each other’s presence. While intimacy is not required, informality certainly is. Those are the occasions when we can get to truly know the “others” beyond the labels.

I am not saying enjoyment of other cultures’ cuisines and arts is bad; in fact, we should always encourage ourselves to broaden our tastes. But, they are surface-level aspects of cultures; if we are too focused on the surface and disregard the more abstract things beneath, we may end up making caricatures out of the people. Weeaboos are a great example of how NOT to appreciate other cultures. Admittedly, stop stereotyping people after doing it your entire life is easier said than done.

I am also not saying interaction alone helps. If we only care about affirming our preconceived beliefs or having token minorities in our lives, no amount of interactions will ever enlighten you. But still, if you want to understand your fellow human beings, wouldn’t it make sense to… you know… actually interact with them?

Lesson two: being multicultural is not about tolerance, it is about resilience. It is less about accepting and liking the trivial differences (emphasise on the word trivial) and more about how well you are in dealing with them.

Someone may annoy you for being too polite or rude. But, instead of wasting your time whining, you should move on with your live and accept that none of your fellow human beings will be 100% likeable to you.

I have to say reactionary monolingual Anglophones score really low in the resilience department. For someone who love to call people snowflakes, they sure can’t handle the mere sounds of any other languages. Even Indonesians who are very racist against Chinese people are not that triggered by the mere sound of Chinese languages (as far as I am concerned); mind you, Indonesia used to banned any public of anything perceived as Chinese!

Humanising your fellow human beings and skilfully traversing trivial human differences. In my personal views, you need both in order to truly experience multiculturalism.

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Oh, and about the people I argued with…

Some did end up acknowledging that diversity does exist outside the western world and more prominently so. But, it was not an admission of error on their part.

After the acknowledgement, they proceeded to talk about how politically unstable those diverse African countries are, proving diversity is bad for unity.

Now, did you see what just happened there? In case you didn’t notice, there were goalposts moving and gaslighting happening.

They acted as if they already acknowledged the diversity of non-western countries from the very beginning, even though their refusal to do so was the reason why we argued in the first place.

They acted as if we were arguing the merit of diversity, even though we argued about its existence outside the western world.

And they also acted as if I defended diversity as an inherently beneficial thing, even though I never made the argument. Not even once.

I know some people are against this behaviour. But, I can’t help myself: my opponents clearly lost.

Well, they already lost when they made a claim proven false by data. They lost for the second time when they started moving the goalposts and attempting to gaslight me.

And one person lost for the third time when he said my refusal to vindicate his make-believe was a sign of autism.

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What’s dignity?

According to my dictionary, it means self-respect and the quality of worthy of respect. Any other dictionaries I looked into said similar things. Basically, it is how much we are respected by others and by our own selves.

The problem is we are too focused on how others see ourselves.

Some of us think we should listen to others’ so-called criticism NOT for the sake of self-improvement, but for the sake of caving in to peer pressures, for the sake of mindless conformity.

Let me give you an example (and yes, it will be dragging):

Let’s just say there is a young man in front of you who is unemployed, physically unfit and afraid to do any thrill-seeking activities. You constantly criticise him for not having a job and for not being physically active. You also love mocking him for being a scaredy cat.

The question is, why do you do that?

Ideally, you pester him to take a job and exercise because you care about him. You don’t want him to end up having little or no saving, having a snow as white resume and having extremely poor health. You pester him for good reasons.

You mock his fearfulness because you are annoyed by his macho guy-wannabe attitude and you use this opportunity to put that giant pussy in his place.

But, with some of you, that’s not the case, isn’t it?

You pester him to take a job NOT because you care about his future, but because you are offended.

You are one of those retards who believe the meaning of life is to work and/or to uphold neoliberal capitalism and that young man offends you because he unknowingly gives your retarded belief(s) the finger.

You fat-shame him because you don’t like seeing fat people. Who cares about his health? You think you are entitled to see so-called ‘beautiful’ people all the time, to have more people to masturbate to.

And regardless if he is a macho guy-wannabe or not, you would still mock him for being a scaredy cat. Maybe you are offended that he does not fulfil an arbitrary gender role. Maybe you are a retarded bully who takes pleasure in humiliating others. Maybe you are both.

My point is (if you can endure my ramblings) we should be careful in how we let others defining our ‘dignities’.

If they keep bothering you because they genuinely care about you or they are concerned your behaviours may negatively affect others, then you (unfortunately) have to listen to them. If they keep bothering you simply because you are different, then you should give them dildos so they can fuck themselves.

Obviously, differentiating the two is easier said than done. So, the only way to deal with such situation is to ask yourselves these questions:

If I follow their words, who would get the benefits: me or other people? When it benefits them, do I contribute something to my society’s welfare… or do I only pander to the sentiments of self-centred and obnoxious cunts? Would I have an easier time achieving my goals.. or  would I have an even harder time because of it?

How about my emotional health? Would I be just fine… or would I end up miserable because I care too much about other people’s feelings and care too little about mine?

Just be careful when others try to change you for the sake of giving you ‘dignities’.

An actually great defence of monarchism

Well, not ‘great’. Just more convincing.

I have my share of documentaries about royal families. Unsurprisingly, most of them are about the British one; to a lesser extent, I also have watched ones about the Japanese and Swedish ones.

When I watched the documentaries about the Swedish one, I was surprised by the presentation. Instead of classical music or any music that represent Swedish heritage, they utilise pop music. Instead of framing the monarchs as untouchable members of the elite, they are framed as if they would blend really well among the commoners.

I asked a Scandinavian friend of mine and he confirmed Scandinavians prefer their monarchs ‘relatable’.

For a long time, I was confused: how did Sweden, Denmark and Norway manage to cling to both monarchism and Jante Law? Now, I know why.

It is the complete opposite with documentaries about British and Japanese royal families.

Besides the more abundant use of classical music soundtracks, they also lavishly display the wealth, the lineage and the celebrity status of the monarchs… and they are seen as good things! The documentaries insinuate the monarchs are worthy of our admiration because they are blue-blooded wealthy celebrities, because we are (supposedly) inherently underneath them!

Don’t get me wrong: I am still not a big fan of ‘relatable’ monarchs. Even if their relatability is genuine and unfiltered (I doubt it is), it still does not erase the fact that they get their arbitrarily-existing jobs because their ancestors who lived centuries ago were politically powerful. The borderline cultish veneration is still there.

But surely, if you argue monarchs are needed because they are symbols of their people, wouldn’t it make sense to depict them as ‘relatable’? If that’s the case, there is a higher chance I would be a monarchist myself. I don’t see how anyone can symbolically represent others if they are seen as inherently above them.

Well, I do see it. People who are comfortable with the existence of wealth and lineage-based strata would be just fine with feet of the powerful (the right kind, obviously) rested on their heads. For them, it makes perfect sense to feel presented by over-privileged and definitely not relatable individuals.

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The internet makes us more ‘isolated’… so what?

Let’s be honest with ourselves: not every social interaction psychologically benefits us.

As an introvert, I hate small talks. If I am the one who starts a conversation, it means I am genuinely interested in its topic. For me, small talks are only useful if you want to please anyone who can make your life financially and/or professionally better. A small talk only for the sake of it gives a delusion of bonding.

Many Indonesians see small talks as borderline virtuous acts… and yet, the Indonesian term for small talk is ‘basa basi’ and ‘basi’ means ‘rotten’ or ‘outdated’. I don’t know why we describe something we love with such spiteful adjective. Maybe we take pride in being ‘rotten’ and ‘outdated’. Who knows?

Oh, and don’t forget that toxic people exist. Despite the financial and professional leverage, every single interaction we have with them is and will always be psychologically hazardous. If you believe there is no such thing as toxic interactions, you have to claim that toxic people don’t exist!

And when I say ‘isolated’, I mean it in a physical sense.

Whether you believe it or not, what we do online still count as social interactions. Even though the most objective definitions of ‘social’ and ‘interaction’ say nothing about being online or offline, it is still ingrained in our collective psyche that physical closeness determines the quality of the bonding, compelling us to ignore the superficiality and toxicity of actual offline relationships.

If we are shown a photo of a family or a group of friends using their phones, most of us would be heartbroken. I, on the other hand, would laugh at you abnormally fragile crybabies.

Even if I dismiss the soundness of online relationships, so what if they are on their phones? How do you know that one image is a representative of their entire life together?

Many people fail to comprehend that you can be active both online and offline… just like how they fail to comprehend that you can condemn Islamic extremism and anti-Muslim bigotry at the same fucking time (seriously, both Muslims and non-Muslims don’t fucking get this)!

What if we are told the people in the photo stop interacting with each other after acquiring internet access? Most would probably blame it for deteriorating the relationships. But, is it really?

How do they know the relationships weren’t bad in the first place? How do they know the interactions weren’t surface-level or toxic? How do they know internet ‘addiction’ is the root of the disease and not its symptom?

If the offline relationships have been proven to be beyond repair, I don’t see anything wrong about ditching them for the online ones. If anything, the internet ‘addiction’ may have stopped the relationships from deteriorating even further.

One may argue that even if the current offline relationship is not a keeper, we should replace it with an offline one as well. Well, if you are the type of person who is not dignified enough to be reasonably picky with relationships, it is feasible.

But, some people like me should be picky for our own mental sakes.

As an introvert, I need people who respect my innate need of solitude and my distaste of small talks. As a stutterer, I need people who won’t abuse or sneer at me for my defect.

Considering how introversion and stuttering are only found in a small number of people, the average people see me as ‘abnormal’ and, unless you live under a diamond-crusted golden boulder, you know damn well they see anything ‘abnormal’ as nuisances or even dangerous.

So, if I desire pleasant relationships, it is better to go online. Offline, I have to vet every person I encounter and potentially exposing myself to snake venom in the process. Online, unless you are a victim of bullying, the venom is easy to steer clear of.

If there are peer-reviewed studies with replicable results which show how online relationships will never be as fulfilling as the offline ones, I will concede. But, so far, I only encounter brain-dead dribble excreted out of the unwiped ass of extrovertedly-inclined and digital-hating normativity.

Oh, and I now hate those ‘internet corrupts us’ memes. Not only they have become tiresome after seeing them in an ungodly abundance, I also cannot shrug off the hypocrisy of posting and sharing anti-internet memes on the fucking internet. Can’t believe I used to find them profound.

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I initially wanted to talk about having somewhat niche interests because, unlike the so-called ‘real’ world, the internet is where I can easily discover people to share interests with. But, even though my geekiness can be a lightning rod of ridicule, I was never abused for it, thankfully.

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Jiří Trnka’s The Hand: not falling for the other side

If it wasn’t for my Intro to Animation class, I would have never heard of this stop-motion animated masterpiece.

To summarise the plot, it tells the story of a harlequin whose impoverished yet contented life of flower pot-making is disrupted by a literal and seemingly-omnipresent hand who demands him to make hand sculptures instead, compelling him to constantly fight for his freedom. Unfortunately, near the end of the story, he dies when one of his pots accidentally fell on his head (seemingly foreshadowed by the recurring accidental pot-breaking). He is given a lavish funeral by the hand.

One can guess why I love this short film.

It is an allegory of censorship enforced under authoritarianism. It sublimely evokes the terror of living as an artist and entertainer in such condition, amplified by the fantastical elements and the atmospheric percussion-oriented soundtracks. In fact, both Wikipedia and IMDB categorise this film as horror.

Unsurprisingly, I picked The Hand as one of the animated shorts I analysed for the final essay. My writings were even abysmal then. Thankfully, I lost it. But, I remember having a great time analysing every single one of them.

While analysing it, I found two peculiarities.

First thing first, the funeral. Why would the hand hold a state funeral to a rebel? Surely, shouldn’t he be demonised as an enemy of the state in the end?

Well, I found an article (forget which one, cannot find it again) about how the USSR and its satellite states honoured their artists posthumously, regardless of how obedient or disobedient they were; the writer said even Trnka himself was given a state funeral.

As I am too lazy to do more research, I cannot confirm or debunk the article’s factual validity. But, as the hand symbolises an authoritarian government (I cannot think of any other interpretations), what the article is saying makes too much sense for me to dismiss.

This reminds me of the legendary and ideologically-dissenting director Andrei Tarkovsky (can’t stop referencing him). After his death, the Soviet authorities regretted that he died in exile. Yes, linking Trnka, a Czechoslovakian puppeteer and animator with, to Tarkovsky, a live-action Russian director who loved exploring the metaphysical aspect of humanity, is far-fetched. But, I can’t help myself.

Oh, and the hand.

At first, I noticed the hand was a left one. I assumed it represented the far-left government of Czechoslovakia. But, when I took a greater look, the hand was not always left.

Sometimes, it appears as a right one. In fact, the first hand sculpture to appear in the video depicts a right hand.  So, I quickly dumped the interpretation, dismissed it as reading too much into things. But then, I remembered the funeral scene, where the hand can be seen making a salute eerily similar to the Nazi one; I could hear my classmates’ shock.

I was more baffled than shocked, as Czechoslovakia was a communist country, not a fascist one. Due to my slowness, it took me days to realise the film criticises authoritarianism in general, not just the communist Czechoslovakian government.

The film also subtly warns us to not fall for any forms of extremism. Your suffering under a far-left government cannot morally justify your support of a far-right government… and vice versa. One form of  zealotry does not justify the other.

I write as if I grasped the thematic depth immediately. I didn’t. Back then, my mind only thought about the Far-Left vs Far-Right.  It took me years to realise how the message is also applicable to any kinds of extreme dichotomies.

Yes, I know I seem to be reading too much into things again. The nazi salute may not be one after all and I don’t know enough about different types of salutes. I also cannot prove that extreme dichotomies in general were what Trnka had in mind.

But, you have to admit: the film does not target a specific ideology. My interpretation fits really well into the narrative.

The overtly-polished Casey Neistat style

I call it the Casey Neistat style because that’s how others call it (even though some people think the style predated him) and I don’t have an alternative name for it.

From the title, you can easily tell I am not a fan.

Okay, I am not saying I hate the aesthetic. I actually think it looks beautiful and proves every image can look pretty when captured by the right person. But, that’s also my problem with it: it looks TOO beautiful.

Before I was immersed in Youtube cultures, I had already watched arthouse films like Andrei Tarkovsky’s and Ingmar Bergman’s. They are visually stunning and narratively compelling (for me), exposing me to cinematic art works.

Also resulting in my high expectations of vloggers like Neistat.

It is already ingrained in my mind that good cinematography HAS to be accompanied by compelling stories. But, vlogs don’t tell ‘profound’ stories (mind the quotation marks), even when they showcase out of the ordinary events or the lives of perpetual travellers.

If anything, those vlogs feel pretentious. The polished cinematography seems to do nothing but overcompensating the passable narratives.

Oh, and when I said that vlogs are not narratively profound, I meant it as a compliment. Because they are supposed to narrate Youtubers’ semi-personal lives, I always expect raw and mundane storytellings; that is what I find attractive about vlogs in the first place!

I actually do enjoy some Neistat-esque vlogs, like the ones of Evan Edinger, Terry Song and Adam Neely. The difference is theirs are more stylistically restrained, allowing a greater presence of rawness and mundanity.

Thanks to its participatory nature, Youtube has opposites for almost everything. For Casey Neistat style and the likes, there are content described by Nerd City as post-ironic.

I cannot make myself enjoy the works of Youtubers like Filthy Frank, MaxMoeFoe and IDubbz (his Content Cop videos are an exception). Apart from the crassness which I find extreme (even for a relatively crass person like me), I am also anxious about the blurred lines between irony and sincerity.

But still, despite my inability to relish such content, I cannot help but respecting those creators for their unsuppressed mockery of the insincere and synthetic charm endorsed by the establishment. While I admittedly do embrace some of the establishment’s ideals, I also despise the idea of venerating them.

Thankfully, despite the increasing pressure of uniformity, the platform still has a sizeable freedom to dissent, something those employed in the ‘traditional’ media can only dream of. Therefore, almost every imaginable type of content has a place on Youtube*.

Whether it is aesthetically and thematically extreme** or middle-of-the-road, you will definitely find it.

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*Obviously, there are restrictions to what can and cannot be uploaded. But, it is no secret Youtube content policing is both ineffective and misguided. ‘Lawful’ videos can get taken down and ‘unlawful’ ones stay. Supposedly, people have found porn on the site; while I do have found softcore films, I have yet found hardcore ones.

**Post-irony is extreme due to its depictions of life as an inherently ugly entity. But, I would argue overtly-polished aesthetic is also extreme for its overtly beautiful depictions of life; once one is accustomed to it, acknowledgement of the ugly reality feels taboo.

A bit of tangent here:

Andrei Tarkovsky said he utilised both colour and monochrome scenes in his films because those shot entirely in colour felt like animated paintings for him and therefore, felt ‘too beautiful’ to be realistic.

I never thought that I would reference Tarkovsky’s philosophy while discussing Youtube.

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I support monarchism because…

*puts on a mask*

Being a monarch is a hard-earned job!

If you have to compare between a person who gets his/her high-earning and high-ranking job by working all the way from the bottom and a person who gets her/his because of his/her lineage, it is obvious the latter is hardworking one!

It is just common sense that the former is a sign of laziness and the latter is extremely hard to achieve! Most of us have never made any efforts to be born into the right families and monarchs are the only ones who have achieved such high accomplishment!

It is frustrating how this thing needs to be said in the first place!

The monarchs make me feel happy!

Who cares about the education, healthcare, economy and political stability?

The only things that matter are my feelings! The purpose of human existence is to make ME happy!

And the only ones who can make ME happy are the monarchs!

They make ME feel extremely good about the world we live in, making ME forget about how fucking shitty the world we live in!

They are literally Gods!

Nepotism is everywhere!

It has been established that the ethical and moral legitimacy of an action is determined by its popularity among the masses. Appeal to popularity is literally a principal accepted in logic and ethics!

That’s the reason why logicians and ethicists support monarchism: because it is based on nepotism and nepotism is literally everywhere!

I mean, literally every person has settled that murder and rape are ethically and morally-acceptable because of how their societal prevalence!

If we have settled that, why can’t we listen to the experts and settle that monarchism is not only acceptable but also good for our political establishments?

*takes off the mask*

 

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Turning them female and not-white

When I say ‘them’, I am referring to fictional characters. And I am against changing their gender and race.

But, not for the reason most people have.

I don’t give a fuck if the changes defy the original ideas. If it is acceptable for white actors to portray actual non-white historical figures, then it SHOULD be acceptable to change the gender and race of fictional and definitely not real characters!

I am opposed to the change because it is insulting to racial minorities in the west and women.

If the studio executives really do care about being inclusive, they would demand the creations of new and original hero characters which women and non-white actors can portray. They would never hand them roles that are basically leftovers.

If anything, it shows how they don’t have the desire to respect identities that are not white and male. It shows how they are entirely motivated by profit instead of genuine sense of social inclusivity. It is all about lucrative pandering.

Admittedly, it is not as bad as the tokenism in which they create non-white and/or female characters mostly as punchlines or sidekicks and barely have compelling stories of their own. It is dehumanising to be seen as nothing but money-generating pigeon-holed props.

I acknowledge it as a leap forward. But, considering it is only a few inches forward, it is not worthy the celebration.

This celebration is akin to me patting myself on the back for exercising and having strict diet just for one day.

It is akin to perceiving Saudi Arabia’s decriminalisation of women drivers as a catalyst for the Muslim world when the rest of the Muslim world never ban them from driving in the first place.

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“You are not from here! Shut the f#@k up!”

Those are the words regurgitated by Americans and, to a lesser extent, Brits and Aussies every time I -an Indonesian- critically comment on their countries. They believe I don’t have the grounds to do so and should just focus on my shitty country.

Do they have a point? No, they don’t.

Yes, I have only visited the US and the UK once long ago and I only lived in Australia for around a year. But, at the same time, I am (relatively) proficient in the English language. It enables me to interact with Americans, Brits and Aussies and getting to know their worldviews, both the good and the ugly.

Some of them try to camouflage their rotten true selves by spraying fragrant rhetoric into the air, successfully fooling the fools. Some don’t even try to hide their rottenness. While it is indeed hard to smell beyond the perfume, the unconcealed rotten stench is hard to ignore.

My English fluency also enables me to consume Anglophone media (even though I have been consuming it long before I could properly understand the language). Yes, it does not represent the reality. But, it does represent the ideals approved by the establishment and/or the masses.

As the Queen’s accent has become less prevalent in British TV shows and films, we can confidently say its social prestige has dwindled in the UK. As American pop culture has romanticise depictions of America’s interventionist foreign policy and no one bats an eye, we can confidently say the American public and establishment tolerate or even embrace interventionism.

How we react to the news stories are also very revealing. As many Americans are aroused by reports of police brutality, we can confidently say violent authority figures are worshipped by a large chunk of the American public.

How about those foreigners who want me to shut the fuck up? How much do they know about Indonesia?

Unsurpisingly, almost nothing.

None of them have ever visited it; when they do, they have only visited Bali, an extremely touristy province with predominantly-Hindu locals. None of them can speak Indonesian or any Malay dialects, hindering them from exploring the Indonesian mass media and the people’s reactions to its content.

For many of them, I am their first contact with an Indonesian. Some of them claim to have Indonesian friends which they are deem more knowledgeable about the country than I am, probably because they affirm false preconceived notions.

Sometimes I wonder if their Indonesian friends actually spent much of their lives abroad and have spent little or no time living here. Sometimes I wonder if they even exist. Call me a denier. But, knowing how humans behave, my scepticism is justified.

Those foreigners are indeed right to say Indonesia is a predominantly-Muslim country with human rights violations. But, those are extremely broad remarks. Everyone knows Indonesia is predominantly-Muslim and saying that a country has human rights violations is as in-depth as saying it has foods. It means shit.

When they do detail the cases, they exaggerate virtually all of them to a thousandfold.

Aceh does enforce compulsory hijab. But, there is no national policy obliging women to wear it and they can been seen ‘uncovered’ in the public spaces.

There are indeed territories that shut down churches under the pretense of ‘permit issues’. But, outside those territories, there are tens of thousands of churches still standing with thriving congregations.

Aceh, an Indonesian province, does implement provincial Sharia and that empowers Islamists all over the country. But, we have thirty-four provinces and Aceh is literally the only one governed under religious legislation; our national government does not use Sharia as its guiding principles, never declares the country as ‘Islamic’ and, in fact, acknowledges five other religions. The reality contradicts that infamous Pew Report (which probably only surveyed ‘mosque dwellers’ instead of those who have lives outside mosques and idiots still believe in the inherent quantitative researches despite sampling bias being a fucking real problem).

If you ask those foreigners, they would probably get many basic facts of Indonesia wrong.

Ask them to find the country on the map and they would probably point to the wrong location.

Ask them about its number of population and they would be surprised the country is the fourth most populated in the world.

Ask them to name our official language and they would probably answer ‘Arabic’, thinking that all Muslims are Arabs and vice versa.

Ask them to name our ethnic groups and they would probably stutter and think there is only one, not expecting any forms of diversity (there are far-right westerners who falsely believe every non-western country is homogenous and they utilise the lie as an argument against multiculturalism in the west).

Ask them to name the country which Bali is a part of and many of them would be shocked it is not a country; they would also be shocked that a predominantly-Hindu territory and an extremely hedonistic tourist destination is a province of a predominantly-Muslim country (and it seems the misconception indirectly endorse the falsehood about Indonesia being a Saudi Arabia clone).

If you ask me any basic facts about Australia, the UK and the US, there is a chance I would fare better than many of the citizens. Many Americans still think English is the de jure official language of their country and many Aussies and Brits still don’t know the duties of most present-day monarchs, including the British ones, are entirely ceremonial. I can also name of said countries’ many territories, including their still-existing colonies; many Americans don’t know what DC stands for and that Puerto Rico is a US territory.

In conclusion, not only the foreigners who told me to shut up don’t have any credibility to comment on my country, I have more credibility to comment on their own countries than they do… and mind you, my credibility is still low considering I don’t live there.

To change the topic a bit…

I am also rather assertive with my opinions about East Asia. Not as much. But, it still manages to irk one of my friends.

He said I couldn’t speak any East Asian languages and I have never lived in the region. As a person of East Asian descent who can speak multiple East Asian languages and have lived in two East Asian countries, he was annoyed by me and reasonably so.

But, he was also fucking annoying.

Instead of giving me evidences that counter my remarks, he simply said I should simply try living in those countries. For him, it was more than enough to put me in my place.

Yeah, no.

When foreigners claim Indonesia is an Islamic theocracy, I can tell them that the country still has loads of active non-Islamic places of worships, hijab-less women outside Aceh and things that are considered ‘un-Islamic’… and I can support my claim by simply linking them to countless videos showcasing hijab-less Indonesian women, vibrant church worships and the secular, extremely hedonistic and highly-westernised Indonesian pop culture.

Whether they convince the fools or not, it does not matter. I know my country rather well (I love to think so, anyway) and I have a decent internet access. Therefore, I have the means to debunk the falsehood and I can do so almost instantly. I have no excuses to not do so.

My friend annoys me because he complains about my alleged ignorance… and yet he does not bother to counter despite having the means to do so.

I don’t know how a person can see ignorance right in front of him/her, get agitated by it and somehow too lazy to annihilate it.

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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