Transforming Pessimism into Optimism in the Current Indonesian Politics

EXCEPT for the unexpectedly viral post-presidential-election blog post I wrote four years ago on Prabowo Subianto in in the eyes of late Lee Kuan Yew (read the post here) and how to select the most progressive political party there is (read: Parpol di Pemilu 2019: Memang Masih Bisa Dipercaya?), I hardly ever generate and publish any political content here. The main reason is simple; PESSIMISM. I’ve been so much overloaded with pessimism.

With the endless supply of hoaxy content, graft and corruption news gracing the national media, I can declare my pessimism as a normal attitude. I have that slightly disturbing views that this state and nation would just run for themselves even if I don’t vote or cast my ballots. While that can be true altogether, I question whether I had contributed something worthwhile to the advancement of my father .. (or wait, if you assume I’m a mysoginist) motherland.

I have had this small clique consisting of some friends who are of different races and walks of life. Being a Javanese male myself, I feel like I have nothing to worry about the ruler of the country because I selfishly know that every president in the country is very likely to be a Javanese male. I sometimes liken the dominance of Javanese males in Indonesia to one of white males in the States. The  republic’s most prominent statesmen are males identified as Javanese. Soekarno, our first president, was Javanese. Soeharto, his successor, was also one. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) shared the same ethnicity. For your information, you can safely ‘suspect’ someone’s Javanese background if you discover his first name starts with ‘su-‘, which means in the language of Javanese “good” or “virtuous”.  And currently, Joko Widodo (‘Joko’ itself is the most Javanese name you can find, just like ‘John’ in the Anglosaxon countries) is undoubtedly the towering media darling.

So when my three Chinese-Indonesian friends were voicing their opinion, I was startled to learn that each of them had different attitude. One showed his highest enthusiasm and optimism. He digested every piece of political news with overflowing zeal, feeling so certain that changes would be coming true soon if he woke up and voted for his dear presidential candidate. He told us how he struggled to get the chance to get into the chamber only to cast the ballot and show his little finger tinged with purplish ink.

As for me, I had never managed to display such enthusiasm. But I did vote in the last presidential election. After listening to my friend’s big struggle to grab that chance of voting,  I felt quite ashamed, partly knowing that if I had been him that time, I may not have made equally enormous efforts like he did.

But I also was dejected to see another friend in the clique who admitted he never got attracted to voluntarily cast his ballot from his early adulthood to these days when he is so eligible to vote. He just wasted his rights to vote as a citizen.

The other one seemed like a swing voter who just followed and tagged along everyone else and thus voted according to someone else’s prescription. He is so easily influenced, having no clear principles and values within himself. But he is the youngest of us so I can tell his view may change over time later.

I arrived to the conclusion that our attitude towards anything is an option we can make. An attitude is made, instead of being given or innate. In other words, a human is never born pessimistic or optimistic or doubtful or skeptic. It’s all learned.

So is our attitude towards politics.

And to bring more optimism in our current politics, which I would love to emphasize here, we all ought to learn more about our nation’s history. That does not necessarily mean reading your history textbooks or encyclopedia or visiting Wikipedia webpages that discusses significant historical events in your country but also talk with the elderly  who experienced firsthand how it felt to be living in many past regimes and in the times when freedom of speech and choice was so restricted unlike these days. That way, you will appreciate more everything you have now and thus never take them for granted. They are so precious but also prevalent like oxygen. You don’t even care less about oxygen but when you lack it, you will beg for its supply around you.

Though I know that some people would just argue that Indonesia is still oppressed by other bigger and more influential nations and that this country still fails in major ways in numerous aspects but we cannot deny the fact that there are many other silver linings as well.

We have been so adept at criticizing and commenting that we ourselves forget to produce things worthy of criticism at the same time.

That said, I am not saying criticizing is bad at all and thus must be forbidden at all cost. Criticizing is good in that it reminds us to remain on track. But too much of something good is also bad. When you busy yourselves with criticizm, you have no ample time to work on your own. Your focus and energy have been sucked out by making criticism.

And most importantly, overcriticism kills productivity and creativity.

So if you still think that participating in politics is in vain just like I did, it is time to change that. And things are better that we make achievements and generate works more than meaningless noise in the process.

What I am trying to say here is: if you know things are not right, fix them depending on your capability. That is all you have to do especially when we are now counting down to the 2019 Presidential Election. (*/)

Why Indonesians Litter Everywhere

LITTERING everywhere is one of Indonesians’ worst habits. This of course is not only found in Indonesia and its people. Thoughtless littering knows no races and geographical boundaries and nationalities. Even in the West (read: Anglosaxon countries), such a habit may be spotted in green and spotless countryside in summer. David Sedaris has been a witness and a relentless trash-picking activist in his idyllic English neighborhood where he now lives with his partner.

However, thoughtless littering has reached a shameful level in Indonesia as we all can see in public places where cleanliness must always be maintained. Such ignorance subconsciously conveys a message that thoughtless littering is never a social disgrace or misconduct. Although placards of waring have been stuck, erected and hung here and there (stating that litterers can be sued and fined for a huge sum of money or sent to jail), I personally hardly believe and feel positive that it will be in fact reinforced.

Why? Here are some underlying assumptions and perceptions why Indonesians – or people around me and myself – have come to this worst level of super massive thoughtless littering which we should have felt ashamed of but unfortunately is never taken very very seriously.

Ignorance in family education

Not many children I’ve seen these days have the innate and ingrained awareness since their early years that littering is never okay and thus must never be deemed trivial violations of norms. The simplest reason behind it is perhaps these children are advised to maintain cleanliness within their school area or home. Once they are out of the school or home zone, they understand by examples of adults aroud  them that littering is always forgiven.

Cleanliness is a mere formality

Adipura, I guess, is the most ridiculous award there is on earth. In Indonesia, the award is meant to show which city deserves the cleanest title.   It is so sickening to me because it never manages to awaken public awareness of cleanliness. Since a long time ago, I have questioned what is the essence of Adipura as winners are determined based on cleanliness of certain zones in a city or town. I know this because I read myself a sign stating that the spot must be maintained clean because judges are to observe it. It definitely ignores trash management in actuality, people’s ways of life, city plan and design and cleanliness maintenance in general. It does not only apply in certain hours, dates but also the entire year. Cleanliness here is a false mask to put on when deemed necessary, to please leaders/ superiors, and to bring more prestige to a local leader and administrations s/he leads.

Trash – including plastic – is considered perishable naturally

Indonesians treat plastic trash and other types of trash – whether it be organic, anorganic or toxic – pretty much the same. Just throw away to fill an empty patch of land and burn it down, not knowing that burning has even polluted the air even more. What an ignorance. That explains why people here buy and use plastic bags and containers liberally and guiltlessly, like their grandparents buying and using banana leaves to wrap foods without thinking twice.

Money solves all

Indonesians never think in the long term. So when they see trash, they seek instant solutions, i.e. pay other people to set trash aside from their view. “Why bother going all the way to find a trash can or litter bin if you can just throw trash away? There will always be people who are willing to get paid to clean all the mess.” That’s what is in their heads. Those who get paid for cleaning by the authorities are abundant and thus spoils everyone. Therefore, they only care about cleanliness around their own neghborhood or house or apartment. Outside their homes, cleanliness is the responsibility of the government. This overdependence on the government explains a lot why Indonesians always blame all their mess on authorities or public officials. They never blame it all on themselves. Pathetic. Now you know why it always looks clean in a well-off neghborhood but poverty-stricken neighborhoods almost always look horribly littered.

Littering is no serious offense

Is there viral news showing us how unforgiving and stern the Indonesian law is towards littering? Impossible. In the middle of a people so infatuated with sensational gossips and political updates, such news would be very much less interesting. And because of this, Indonesians are so ignorant of the awareness that littering is a serious environmental crime. And who are you to make reports even if you witness a person littering where s/he must not. Everyone must think,”Well, that’s none of my business. It’s totally the public officials (government). Who am I?” Plus, usually a litterer is a familiar person to us, e.g. a person living next door or family members you ought to respect or at least treat nicely no matter what happens. What mostly happens is pretending you never saw or witnessed it. That’s the best and easiest solution.

Trash management is never an important issue

Indonesia’s trash management is never serious and comprehensive and the government fails over time to show its goodwill to improve systematically and sustainably and real. And it is more about importing cutting-edge, very durable, and so pricey trash containers. Though it helps, of course it requires more than that to solve this extremely complicated problem. Another thing to show the failure is the fact that Indonesians don’t feel necessary to throw away trash according to its proper categories although they are already provided with 3 trashes to simply separate trash of dissimilar types. Such separate trash cans act as prention that this nation has also applied what other more developed nations have applied. But too bad it’s all fake and staged because after that the trash is treated just the same way as before.

Is cleanliness part of faith?

It is no concidence that Indonesians are mostly muslims and they never care about cleanliness. Since their early years, they are taught that cleanliness is part of their faith. “So there is no problem because there’s still the rest. Not all of it is gone,” their subconscious mind makes a lame excuse. So maybe from now on, it had better to start deconstructing such world view. Dirt is part of sin, perhaps that is how it should be taught. (*/)

Firefox Support Sprint 2018

WE had much fun today as we concluded our “Firefox Support Sprint“. I happened to take part actively in the event and I can say it was a blast.

So what is cool about joining this?

As a volunteer, I was assigned to respond to as many reviews as possible.  Though you are authorized to write a response, you have to comply with some guidance, which is as follows:

  • Share the love, be kind. It’s not your job to defend yourself, others, or even Mozilla. Users may just be venting because their problems are frustrating. The best thing to do is to help the user get his or her answer. If you feel that a post has crossed the line, skip it.
  • If you get stuck on a difficult support question, you can use the Support Forum Contributors Advanced Troubleshooting forum to discuss difficult questions or to see if other contributors are able to help. The #sumo IRC channel (accessible here via Mibbit or via Kiwi) is another place to ask for help and you can ping @guigs for staff support. On Telegram you can also join Support Mozilla (SUMO) and reach out to @rtanglao if you’re really stuck.

First thing first, you have to identify some common issues types such as speed, crashes, hatred, problems with latest updates, compatibility, keyboard, video capability, app file size, etc.

Once the type is identified, you may supply an appropriate response to it. But if you find it ambiguous or you feel reluctant to respond to such a review (not all review is nice to read for your information), just skip it for another to handle. That is pretty much how you can respond to a Mozilla Firefox review on Google Play.

That also means you need to develop extraordinary level of patience and vast range of vocabulary so that you will find it easy to select right words to address an issue without harassing or insulting others. Here chances are you will discover impolite reviews which you think are as derogatory and insulting as you have ever heard in your life time. But still, you have to maintain decorum while responding to it. Never lose temper because you have to focus on addressing issues.

The next step to take after responding to many reviews is taking a role of moderator. Here you are dealing with a collection of responses (that you and other fellow have previously posted). To be qualified and publishable, a response has to be positive, to address issues, and personalized.

This might look simple but at the end of the day, it proves to be useful for users of Mozilla Firefox. (*/)