Friday, January 12, 2007
  It doesn't cost much .... 1

This is not the first in a series of articles outlining and delineating how certain employers here show little regard for the welfare of their employees and their clients. I have already written at length about Bakrie and Lapindo, about Adam Suherman and his plaything, AdamAir, and there is a lot more that can and will be written about their arrogance. However, this the first in a series with the same theme but with a personal angle which will slowly unfold as my legal case reaches up through the echelons.

In one week I will be an illegal alien for the first time in my 19 years here. At that time I will have named the names of those who seek to stigmatise me thus. However, I have not broken any laws here. They have. What is more they continue to do so with those remaining in their employ. I have the full backing of my legal team as we seek a solution. This week's polemics are part of that process. I hope you stick with me. Feel free to comment, but please use a pen name other than Anon.

An educationalist recently told me that the philosophical priority and ethical basis of his chain of schools is to teach students what is right and wrong. I suggested that good and bad are more fundamental concepts. For example, the execution of Saddam Hussein may have been right in judicial terms but the executioners horrified the world because of their display of hatred and bigotry. Because they were bad, this made the act itself inherently wrong.

Our upbringing should guide us to what is right and wrong behaviour. Problems occur when an individual or group imposes its ethical and moral correctness on others who differ in their interpretation.

When I commented that, per se and de facto, good is right and bad is wrong and that these concepts were indivisible, I was told that my thinking is very post-modernist.

Before I get accused of using lexiphanic language, let me just say that I'm not at all certain what a post-modernist is. According to my Webster's Big and Too Heavy To Put In Your Pocket Dictionary which I trust as far as I can throw it, post-modernism means coming after and usually in reaction to modernism in the 20th century, usually in the arts and literature.

Hang on a sec here. 'Modernism' also has a definition, but I think we can all understand that in general it refers to a break with the past, to new methods and tools.

I suppose I am a modernist in at least a couple of respects: you are reading one of the world's top blogs - ranked c.60,000 out of c.36 million active blogs, and both my sons are computer literate because I gave them one when each was 6 years old. However in most others I think I am a pre-modernist.

When I was a lad in London, back in the mists of time admittedly, so was David McKie.

Wartime austerity bred a nation of hoarders for whom spending money on new things was plain wrong.

As Britain recovered from the deprivations and sacrifices of World War II, food and clothing remained rationed. No-one got more than their fair share. School children such as David and myself were given daily doses of vitamins, and we were encouraged to make do, to waste not, want not, to Do It Yourself and, perhaps above all, to not throw things away because it might have a later use.

If a tap (faucet) leaked, we changed the washer.
In Jakarta, we buy a new tap.

If we had a garden, we grew our own fruit and vegetables.
In Jakarta we buy imported mangoes and durians, tropical fruit.

We learned to switch off lights to conserve electricity.
In Jakarta air conditioners are set at 16ºC.

We knew where our water came from - it was recycled 16 times before reaching the sea.
Here taps are left running as if they were mountain springs.

We took our own shopping bags to the shops.
Here, plastic bags are used once, thrown away and thereby worsen floods.

When asked about our future dreams, we would answer that we wanted to be train drivers, nurses or accountants.
A recent survey asked Jakarta high school students what their lifetime ambitions were. A substantial percent said they wanted to be financially rich.

We were encouraged to give back to society something of what society had given us. We helped little old ladies across the street, we did what we were lead to believe was right and proper, and folk thought we were good children.
Here, children learn that right and wrong is about being good or bad consumers, possibly with the help of God, that queuing serves no useful social purpose, nor do other people unless you can benefit from them.

This polemic is not specifically geared towards Indonesian societal expectations: for all I know 'globalisation' has homogenised urban societies everywhere. I have not forgotten about the horrendous underemployment and poverty to be found in urban and rural kampungs which generally have strong communal ties, but then this polemic is focussed on those who think it is their god-given right to exploit others for the immediate gratification of themselves or their group.

I do know that I don't fit into such a society.
I am not a snacker, content with a nibble here, a soundbyte there.

My attention span is quite long:
I can read a novel at one sitting.
I can gaze at a sunset for its duration.
I can listen to a piece of music which is longer than three minutes.

I am happy with my own company but I can be a good host.
I don't need constant entertainment, but I do like strategy games.

The incessant and intrusive pop hit ringtones of handphones are an invasion of my personal space, and, as I have often said, I don't even have one. I don't want the immediacy of contact and access to my privacy. And I certainly don't want to receive and pay for illiterate messages I can't decipher or unimportant news as it happens.

I don't need or want anything that it is instantly consumed without regard for the process of production and digestion and disposed of without due thought for the consequences. And above all, I don't seek any of those things thinking that I do it because God is on my side. That is Prosperity Theology.

Prosperity theology detracts Christians (and every self-confessed adherent to any religion, excepting animists) from worshipping God and leads them to worship material wealth. Idolatry is not just bowing down in front of a statue, it is "making the penultimate, ultimate". Thus, the Christian's objective ceases to be worshipping God and serving Him, but health and wealth in this life.

Therefore, prosperity theology actually makes God into a means towards an end. God becomes the means whereby I enjoy a rich and prosperous life on this earth. In its worst format, prosperity theology seeks to manipulate God .... "in the name of Jesus" (is) a quasi-magical formula used to coerce God into giving me what I want.

Followers of this religious path do everything for show, to make themselves look good when they look in the mirror.

And I fully intend to crack that mirror, to show these idolaters what's on the other side of the Looking Glass.

Freecycling has a group in Jakarta.


9:30 am
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