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. (*/)

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