[Esai] Being Cosmopolite in This Multicolored World

*Esai di bawah ini saya ikutkan dalam 2010 International Essay Contest for Young People yang diadakan The Goi Peace Foundation kerjasama dengan UNESCO, dengan tema: My Role in Creating a Peaceful World. Naskahnya sudah saya kirimkan sejak Juni lalu dan baru diumumkan 7 November 2010. Memang, saya tidak menang. Tapi, ikut berkompetisi dengan 3.957 pemuda dari seluruh dunia, itulah yang menyenangkan.

Naskah saya ini berjudul ‘Being Cosmopolite in This Multicolored World’. I hope you give some feedback or criticism to it. Thank you



Have you ever been to Indonesia?

Indonesia is famous for its various culture, religion, culinary, custom, language, and tribe. In addition to historical factor, this diversity was also formed by the many islands separated by the sea we have. So, when you visit two or more islands, you would find different and unique cultures. Despite globalization makes borders blurred and it impacts to such we called hybridization of culture; each still has its own original values that differentiate with others.

In uniting this diversity, we have an official national motto “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika”. The motto which taken from Old Javanese literally means “(Altough) in pieces, yet One”, but often loosely translated as “Unity in Diversity”. It is one of the ways to embed common sense that we are one: Indonesian. We have one nation, one language, and one motherland: Indonesia. This was taught since we were in kindergarten or elementary school.


It seems ideal, doesn’t it?


But, Indonesian never forgot the ethnic conflicts that happened in 2000s. The conflicts were occurred in some places: Sambas (West Kalimantan), Sampit (Central Kalimantan), Ambon (Southern Moluccas), Ternate (Northern Moluccas) Palu (Central Sulawesi), and other small areas. Based on the survey did by one non-governmental organization under UN stated that during 7 years between 1997-2004, there has been 3,600 conflicts with at least 10,700 victims (Suroso, 2007). This number was not included conflicts in Aceh and Papua. The primary motives were actually about economic distribution, identity, and religion issues (Tumanggor, 2003). Indonesia was spotlighted worldwide because of this.


Everybody considers that this one of the risks of plural state. Yet, the main problem is how to solve this? How to manage the plurality goes harmonious or at least the potential of conflicts can be diminished? In this case, everybody has responsibility to play his/her role in creating a harmonious world. By this, the development can be continued and kept sustainable.


What I will tell below comes from my real experience in trying to create a peaceful condition in my community. I’m International Relations student who study many aspects about politic, communication, environment, culture, economic, etc. My friends at this major are ethnically, spiritually, and economically various. Ethnically, my friends are Dayaknese, Sasaknese, Sundanese, Balinese, and the most is Javanese.
Spiritually, most of them are Moslems; others are Christians, Hindus, and Catholics. The use of religion symbols is not a big problem, such as veil or cross necklace. The economic level is also not equal each others, some are high and the rest are medium. In short, we are a small image of Indonesia.


In my opinion, it is natural that conflict will be easier occurred in a plural community. It is like what I have ever faced several times. There are some of my friends who like to insult my background as outsider. I mean that I am the one and the only Sasaknese from Lombok Island. I am not Javanese as the major tribe in my class. Certainly, I got the hard feeling but I chose to not care. If I served them back, the problem would not stop and might be continued to the dispute. I love peace and hate the dispute. But, if their words are too sarcastic, sometimes I replied them. Not by replying the sarcastic too but more explaining my position and my background.

Honestly, what they talked to me about is often caused by their misunderstanding. They did not know well about me, my culture, my region, or my background generally. So, I think that was the great opportunity to tell them the truth. I suggest to everyone to try this. Don’t be vengeful towards the sarcastic words or racist acts you get. Speak up and explain the facts carefully.

In bridging the understanding, it was also effectively done in the class. For example, in the sixth semester, I took “Cosmopolitanism, Fundamentalism, and Nationalism” subject. One of the topics we learned and discussed much is about cosmopolitanism values. This term is a product of three factors: unity, peace, and liberty. It is such kind of philosophical and social approach where we can accept and live among different cultural background. Even in a peak of consciousness of this, you may say that you are citizen of the world. It is not omit your identity and citizenship. Because being a cosmopolite has to stand on universalities plus differences. We bring peace, tolerance, love of mankind, and enlightened morality which started from our smallest community, family, to the biggest one: the world.

So, would you like with me to take a part of this new world project? I hope so!

*picture is taken from http://svmomblog.typepad.com.


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