A Reflection of “Bhineka Tunggal Ika”

The sayings “Bhineka Tunggal Ika” has been Indonesia’s motto for years, they say. Implying how despite all of the differences in terms of religion, tribe, and race in this country, it will always last as one. A unity in diversity.

But the status quo is clearly different. With the discrimination happened over these past years, isn’t it just showing how people in Indonesia could not fully understand the motto our ancestors has passed to us?

A survey conducted by the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education, that around 50% of high school and college students have intolerant view towards the diversity of religion in Indonesia with a goal to create a Moslem nation. What’s even worse is that this religion intolerance keep increasing since 2016. Not only that, social segregation based on tribe and race still exist, proven by the fact that around 80% of Indonesians feels much more comfortable to live in a community with the same tribe as them. This is why the chances of discrimination is still high over the years.

Two years ago, in 2017 there were various religion discrimination happened in several schools across Indonesia. Some students were rejected to enter state school due to their religion, some were forced to wear hijab even though they are not moslem, and some others were forced to join religion class that is not even theirs.

Then a year ago, a man who came from a Chinese-Indonesian family can not get the certificate of ownership of his land in Yogyakarta since he’s considered as a non native person. Even when the government already prohibit the use of the word ‘native and non native people’.

Not stopping yet, just a few months ago, people in Papua were fighting for their rights after a series of racial discrimination and human rights violation they went through. Creating one whole complicated issue with hoax roaming around it.

So I started to ask myself. Is the motto “Bhineka Tunggal Ika” is too hard for Indonesians to follow? Is it perhaps, something beyond our reach? Or do we maybe need to try harder to reach this goal?

The Indonesian government has actually created a law in 2008 in order to eliminate discrimination related to race and ethnicity. But something we do need to know is that discrimination is not only excluding someone directly. It is also be any kind of insult and bully that is directed to someone because of their identity, and the victim is usually the minority of their community. By understanding this meaning, it is possible to say that even kindergarten students can be a victim and or perpetrator of discrimination. Moreover high school students and adults who are more exposed to real life problems and radicalism.

This suggest that one of the main cause of discrimination and inequality happened in Indonesia is the misunderstandings of the majority and minority groups. While the existence of majority and minority groups doesn’t do any harm, a lot of people acts like if they’re the majority group, they can do whatever they want towards the minority. Which provokes many of the intolerance problems I have mentioned above.

I then try to elaborate it with my life. Living in a diverse community, I have never been so grateful to be in it. I have learned so much about set of values I have never heard of, about mindset I don’t have, and about the stories that I have never experienced.

And now I know by heart that every story, every mindset, every set of values have their own uniqueness in it, that deserve to be heard and shared. These differences we subconsciously notice in our everyday life added with a handful amount of respect and  tolerance is the key to create a peaceful community. To reach “Bhineka Tunggal Ika”, the unity in diversity everyone dream of.

Therefore, as what my friend beautifully articulated, every person has a sense of tolerance in them. But then our powerful ego that’s always refuse to see anything from different point of view, try to bury that deep out of reach. What our society needs is just a person to start this habit of respecting and tolerating those who may be different from us.

Now I encourage you to be that person, who go out of the way and start to respect and tolerate others. If other people still can not do this, it doesn’t mean you can not as well. Start it out by expanding your friend group, say hi and be nice towards others, and listen to what they are trying to say. Because I believe that differences is something we need to celebrate, not deny.

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