“What does it mean to be Indonesian today?”


The other day, JakartaGlobe asked me this question: “What does it mean to be Indonesian today?”

My response was:

“To love who we are, embrace our unity in diversity, and strive to realize our potentials. Let’s stop bickering and start doing something real, however we can. Optimism is the new black (or red and white).”

I meant, and still mean, every single word of it.

Indonesia is a country with about 17,000 islands and 220 million people. Diversity is naturally unavoidable. We know this. That’s why the country’s slogan is Bhinneka Tunggal Ika – Unity in Diversity – the oneness in the many-ness. – As you can see, we have very wise ancestors, whose wisdom should be revisited more and contemplated upon.

The richness of the natural resources, the respect for traditional values, the closely-knitted societies, the food (yes, I have to mention the food), and the creativity and resilience of the people are to die for. Imagine a combined force that may come out of such diversity and potentials.

I heart sinks whenever someone accuse the country as a “failed state.” Excuse me, I strongly beg to differ. Sure, the government—and us too, mind you, as the people of Indonesia—have lots of homework still to be done. But it’s an unfinished process. We are not failing. We are trying. We are surviving. We are thriving.

One only needs to look at one’s surroundings to know this. How people work hard in their life to make ends meet the best way they can. How so many school children who come from lower income families still are amazingly enthusiastically go to school despite their shortcomings, and how so many fortunate people are helping them to ensure that they continue to pursue the education. How micro, small and medium enterprises with utmost agility grow their business. How people still smile and help one another out whatever their conditions may be.

If you have Indonesian friends on Facebook or follow Indonesian people on Twitter, you would see how proud we are and how much we love our country. Hashtags and retweet of twitter #17an, #merdeka, #bhinneka_tunggal_ika, @id-optimis, #banggaIndonesia, #upacara, #indonesiabanget, @GNFI, @IndonesiaYouth, #indonesiamerdeka, #3katauntukindonesia, #HUTRI67 color my timeline.

I am especially proud of my Indonesian (and some non-Indonesian!) friends who go well beyond their self interest and start thinking of a bigger picture, the interest of the larger communities. They initiate collaborative actions to move the society forward and take them higher.

Social movements are nothing new in Indonesia and it flourishes even further during the last years. People are taking real actions to make things better. It works wonderfully. Beautiful people performs beautiful actions.

How can I not be proud and optimistic of my beloved country?

During the #OnOffID event last year, one of Indonesia’s education icons Anies Baswedan made a great speech about optimism for the country. He said:

“Tell the world that Indonesia has all the reasons to be optimistic. For me, you (The Indonesian youth) is the main reason why we are optimistic. Tell them there are many who share this same view. Choose to spread the optimism and positivism virus. It is contagious.”

He’s damn right. There are so many people who share this view.

So let’s stop bickering and start doing something real, however we can. It is a good time to stop and ask ourselves: what have we done for your country? For our people? For our surroundings? Is this all or Is there more we can do? I am open for any invitation or suggestions.

Optimism is the new black (or red and white). Dirgahayu Indonesia!

Picture was taken from here: http://bit.ly/N4jbWr

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