This is not a plea for tolerance
At regular intervals, the English-language section of the Indonesian blogosphere erupts in pompous outrage and insults start flying. The latest palaver has arisen because Unspun
, a Chinese-Malaysian living in Jakarta, carefully snipped part of a post on the Bali Blog
which suggests that if you have a holiday romance with a Javanese lass, you'd woo her better by taking her to Warung Batavia, an Indonesian restaurant, rather than a fancy sushi dive.
Unspun, as is his wont, figured that the original post was an implied insult to Javanese girls and was a further example of post-colonial attitudes. Or perhaps he figured that he needed a boost to his derivative blog's circulation because he carefully avoided the culturally sensitive conclusion to the original post."If your girlfriend is Muslim, try to respect and support her in her religious commitments especially during the month of Ramadan. Dating a Javanese girl can be an interesting experience if both parties are open and relaxed."
Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner, but I can't really get to grips with the need for any particular cultural group to feel a sense of superiority. This country's motto is Bhinneka Tunggal Ika
from Old Javanese. (Scroll down the page for an interesting historical perspective.)
This loosely translates as 'Unity In Diversity' and is essentially a recognition that collectiveness rather than divisiveness offers the best chance for the survival of humanity.
It is through our belief systems - essentially ethnically based, although generally manifested in politics and religions - that conflict arises. Can anyone state with any certainty which does not stem from arrogance, itself a manifestation of personal insecurity, that their belief system is the only true one?
None of us live in isolation and all of us can trace our DNA back 100,000 years or so to a common ancestor. Globalisation is not a new phenomenon. Migrations of homo sapiens
and other humanoids have occurred through the millennia as the climate and geology of Planet Earth has changed. Our myths and legends and our more recent written and pictorial histories record the changing patterns and inter-mingling of humanity. Few groups of humanoids have survived in isolation and it is this very mixing which has lead us to become the dominant species.
Unfortunately, somewhere along the line our species has forgotten that we are all part of Mother Nature. None of us are aliens from other star systems, although I do recognise the rights of those who may so believe.
What I do not recognise is the need for slurs based on ethnicity.
There are greater issues at stake in the world, as is recognised by outside observers of the Indonesian blogosphere.Friskodude
has written to me as follows:Enjoyed your post today. Indonesian needs more good expat bloggers. You, Oigal
, and a few others (see my blogroll and, in particular, Rob Paiton) are doing your best job, but it's nothing compared to the expat blogger scene coming from Thailand. I wonder why.
I'll offer a part answer to that question tomorrow.