We can be heroes ~ just for one day
So sang David Bowie and I suppose those few words
are appropriate today, which is Hari Pahlawan
(National Heroes Day). I'm not going to argue with SBY's choice of eight dead freedom fighters who have belatedly been designated National Heroes. I suppose that sixty years after the event has been sufficient time to evaluate their efforts, especially as the list includes four sultans and a couple of hajis, who were presumably pretty prominent in their heroic endeavours.
Not to belittle that list, I hereby humbly offer my own.
There was the young lass on my no. 46 bus rattling her homemade tambourine with a suckling child on her hip. Her singing was woefully out of tune, but I awarded her Rp.1,000 for her bravery in being there.
I have lived in the same house for nigh on 19 years. Several of my neighbours have lived here longer; we've watched each other's kids growing up. And we have shared the same electricity meter reader and the same postman in all that time. A commitment to a community is worthy of respect.
There's Ibu E., a local headmistress who didn't have a day off during the summer break. I asked her when she expected to have a holiday and she told me that she is due to retire in six years. Her dedication, and that of all teachers who, by encouraging their students to think, show they care, should be rewarded.
The above all contribute to society, albeit modestly without overt altruism. In my book, they are all heroes.
And there is a genuine heroine: Suciwati, the widow of the assassinated human rights activist, Munir
How long must she continue to fight for closure? How long before the evildoers behind his murder are brought to book? She has lobbied worldwide and now that the Democrats in the Good Ol' USA have formed an opposition to George Bush II, it is beginning to look that Indonesia must heed calls for a resolution to the matter.
For Suciwati, this is not just a fight to find her husband's murderers; it's a challenge to the arrogant authorities who can act out of self interest rather than that of the state they are supposedly working for. Munir was a patriot; his killers weren't, and for that reason alone Suciwati is a national hero.