Small Things Of Hope And Self-Confidence: For A Better Nation

For months on end, one problem has been revolving around my head – the state of our nation. The simple things that we see every day and take for granted (which we shouldn’t) are end results of something even deeper, somehow permeating the nation’s subconscious.

Here’s what I see:

  • shameless and over-the-top corruption. Hey, even stealing a pen from the office for personal use is corruption, but I dare say we’ve all done it once or twice. But people skimming money here and there, setting up dummy corporations, to grab mountains of money? That’s greed, but what provoked the greed?
  • aggressive drivers and motorcyclists. Anybody who drives daily in Jakarta is familiar with the ongoing fight you have to endure with other drivers and motorcyclists, just to move forward. Many attach this aggressiveness with frustration, but… frustration towards what?
  • low craftsmanship, or even plagiarism. Going through a house renovation gave me a first-hand look at how paid labormen work (who are usually hired only to do a specific task). They just do the job they’re told to do, without any thoughts towards function or aesthetics. Some may associate this with their level of education, but this also happens a lot in educated circles also. Employees do just enough to make sure they’re still within the key performance indexes, and the less they do (otherwise copy other people’s work), the better. Local mass electronic companies design knock-off products based on other, more prominent brands because “that’s what sells” – just look at the wave of QWERTY phones since the BlackBerry craze in Indonesia. All three examples point to a very low pride level about their own work. But why?

I mainly thought that these sociological symptoms were due to these factors:

  1. release from the oppression of the Suharto era. Newfound freedom without a sense of responsibility has brought our nation almost to the brink of collapse, many times.
  2. low level of empathy – no such thing as ‘love thy neighbor’ anymore. People simply don’t care about others.
  3. an effect of the release from oppression: a yearning of ‘revenge’, the release of frustration, and wanting to ‘be on top because it’s my turn now’. Big or small, the effects of these emotions can be seen in every day life anywhere in Indonesia.
  4. more on the ‘be on top’ factor – wanting to feel ‘superior’ to others. Small example: the way a funeral convoy acts, especially the motorcyclists, clearing the road for a faster trip to the funeral. Or, how officials use motorcycle escorts to break through traffic. Even more ridiculous, how some people use their police sirens – actual police or not – to coax the traffic to roll along in a jam (even when it’s totally pointless).

Why is all this happening to us? The younger generation, who did not feel Suharto’s oppressive rule, still act vengeful and frustrated – see how easy it is to recruit people into violence-prone groups like FPI, and the constant, unprovoked hooliganism of Jakmania.

And it’s not about the general education level, either – we see these negative symptoms everywhere (as I have shown above). All probably small things, but as they say, the devil is in the details; giants slip from small stones than big rocks.

The general feeling of apathy must be caused because of something, but apathy alone would not make people frustrated – apathy would actually come after frustration. Then it dawned on me.

Two words:



Voters flocked, twice, to vote for SBY’s administration because, for a while, he represented hope. He looked at us and basically said ‘don’t worry, we can do it!’ thus building our self-confidence. Regardless of what is currently happening and what political leaning you have, I dare say this is the single most important contribution that SBY’s administration has given to Indonesia. Unfortunately, the blatantly selfish power plays done by any and all the political parties have blasted out this self-confidence and hope once again, just like a new house built in months of hard work can be burnt down in a day, and the seeming inaction from SBY’s administration also struck a blow to the hard-won hope.

I have mentioned numerous times that the fate of the nation depends on us – the average citizen – and even more so than what our self-proclaimed leaders can do. These politicians are too busy attempting power grabs and testing their authority (like issuing pointless fatwas or laws) that they forget to take care of their constituents. It has got to the point where, ridiculously, a party will appoint a celebrity to run for a certain post, even though he or she has no previous experience, or  is not even from the constituent’s area, just to get votes.

So there’s nothing we can do except keep an eye on them – political parties here are created more to grab power rather than trying to push their member’s ideals; this can be proven by how similar all the parties are, trying to be something for everybody.

But we, the people, can be the change that they disappointingly cannot. Through our work and our play, we can and should emanate hope and self-confidence. We should attack apathy by being critical – I have an entire blog dedicated to making people laugh enough, or angry enough, to break through their apathy and figure out solutions (or at least suggest them) for Jakarta. We should take pride in our work and inspire the best work from our peers and colleagues. And we really should be more tolerant – everybody has a unique way to contribute; differing point of views ensure a richer solution.

And it all starts from the small things we do every day.

The fight still continues, my friend!


About barijoe

Failed Musician, Reformed Gadget Freak and Eating Extraordinaire.

2 responses to “Small Things Of Hope And Self-Confidence: For A Better Nation”

  1. Firman says :

    IMO its about money. People can arrive at your level of awareness only if they are freed from the burden of toiling for daily bread and butter. Average Indonesians are still at the level of being busy earning everyday meal, and everything else becomes secondary.

    After reading stories of Rwanda under Paul Kagame, I have come to believe that the fastest route to economic prosperity is not through democracy, but authoritarianism. Authoritarianism restores order and stability, two pre-requisites foor economic development, while democracy creates chaos.

    Rwanda Rising: A New Model of Economic Development.

    Kagame: No country can depend on development aid forever. Such dependency dehumanises us and robs of us our dignity, and quite frankly it is an unacceptable proposition, besides being unsustainable.

    • barijoe says :

      I agree with you – many are too busy fighting to put food on the table to think about this stuff. That’s why we should find ways of inspiring this hope and self-confidence in others, because we certainly cannot depend on our so-called leaders to do that.

      You may be right about authoritarianism – because a big problem for us is discipline. But I don’t see that happening here, where the so-called ‘hard-won freedom from the New Order’s oppression’ is still fresh in our minds. We’ll have to find another way; some way so that the large minority of intellectuals and professionals can do something more for this country without getting muddled up in politics.

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