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The Negative Side of Passion

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When does someone turn into an adult? One thing’s for sure, age is not a reliable indicator. But courage and responsibility are two of the most obvious sign of maturity.

Yesterday I talked with an old friend which I knew since 12 years ago. A talented drummer who’s been playing for several well-known independent bands in Surabaya. He is now married, expecting a baby (his wife is 7 month-old pregnant), worked in a factory during daytime, and still play with his band at night. Things went well, until recently he felt uninspired and exhausted. He said, “Working in the factory gave me a regular paycheck, and it’s good for my family because they need financial stability, but I’m planning to quit because it’s going against my idealism.”

Turns out this so-called ‘idealism’ he have in his mind is that “people must not work for money, but for passion..” and that “if we don’t like our job, we can always quit, money is not a big deal..” has took over his sanity and made him forgot the existence of his pregnant wife. But I don’t blame him. He might be 35 year-old, but his mind is still like a 17 year-old.

It always frustrates me when people are talking about idealism, passion, and rejecting the idea that some of us have to take a job that we dislike. Well, in my dictionary, all of these sacrifices does not mean I’m compromising my idealism whatsoever, it is called “responsibility.” And if following your passion means making your family suffer, starving and sick, I’d rather not have a passion at all. People have dreams, some are lucky enough to have an occupation that matched with their passion, while some are not. Idealism is a way of life, it’s how we see things in life and how we think about certain events. It is certainly NOT an occupation, and judging someone from their occupation solely is not wise.

In the end, it’s not your idealism that will determine your maturity and how much respect people will give you, it’s how much courage you have to show your responsibility, even if it means you have to do something that you don’t like.

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The Real SIN is To Be Jobless

As I waited for the elevator to take me to the fifth floor of my office building this morning, I scrolled on my Twitter timeline and found a tweet by @gm_gm (Goenawan Mohamad) saying “Semoga Indonesia tak akan seterusnya menemukan khotbah moral di halaman pertama…” — Yes, sir, I completely agree. With too many annoying stories in our heads, the last thing we need right now is some corrupt politicians taking advantage of this situation, preaching that this country is in a high level of morality issues.

I always thought that morality is something that needs to be built individually. No one is responsible for your own moral-behavior but yourself.

Photo by: Ed Wray of Time (http://lightbox.time.com)

See the above monkey? According to Ed Wray, the photographer who took that picture for this site, “The disturbing image of the monkeys wearing the masks is a visual distillation of the kinds of horrible things that happen when people are driven to desperation by poverty.”

That’s right, Ed. In my country Indonesia, nobody gives a damn about a chained monkey wearing a mask. Poverty has ‘killed’ our sensitivity for animals. But it’s not the only thing that poverty killed. With the help of confusing religious beliefs, ignorant government, and a poor education system, poverty is —slowly-but-surely— crafting our young generations to become a bunch of lazy cowards, highly prone to being brain-washed, with future jobs such as corrupt politicians, sinetron or sexy horror movie stars, and suicide bombers.

They have no accumulated knowledge to criticize what they are told. They live in the bubble of the present, where their understanding of good and bad has been defined by their low-educated parents, influenced by the government, the media, and by their sacred religious leaders.

If you want to help this nation to escape from this so-called “high level of moral issues” the best thing you can do is liberate yourself from poverty.

I know that nobody wants to be stuck in poverty, and some people choose to see it as their destiny. Well, from the way I see it, poverty is not an excuse for you to quit working hard to change your life. J.K. Rowling was a raised in a poor family, now look at her and all the money she makes from Harry Potter. Franklyn Addo is also coming from a poor family in UK, but he manages to got great grades and got invited by five universities.

I realize there are many reasons why someone is unemployed, especially in this economy. But I always told my friends and family that being jobless is definitely a sin! I even suggest the MUI to start making a “fatwa” for it, so that they can stop focusing on, well, prohibiting us from doing what we like, such as smoking and watch certain movies, for example.

I think it’s okay for anyone to be angry towards the people of Gadel, but for me, I’d rather use it as a motivation to work harder (and save more money) so that my son can have a better education in a better institution. It broke my heart to heard about Ruyati, but on the other hand it’s also one of the reason why men should work hard for their family, so that their wives/sisters/mothers no longer have to go abroad as migrant workers.

Every single day people are struggling for their life, and so must we. Bob Marley said it clearly on his “Redemption Song” … emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our mind… — It is clear that the responsibility to make real changes in our life lies in our own hands. And for that to happen, you need to have a whole new set of beliefs that it is always possible for everyone to escape from the burden of poverty. As long as they have the courage to make it happen. Whatever the obstacles are.

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A Rise Against Ignorance

Now that Abubakar Ba’asyir was sentenced to 15 years in jail, will the act of terrorism and bombings no longer exists in Indonesia? According to some experts, considering the nature of the ‘jihadi virus‘ which is resilient and mutates, we will still see more of attacks, because the virus is passed from friends to friends, families to families. Worse, using religious doctrines and taking advantages of the low-educated society, this virus has found a suitable place to grow.

When it comes to God, religion, and faith, somehow our people are easily indoctrinated without further questioning, because they fear the doubts will make them sinful, for have been disbelieving God’s rules. It is sinful to be critical.

But if the ‘jihadi virus’ can be passed easily, why can’t the virus of ‘peace, tolerance, and respect‘ also spreads to our society, dominating their beliefs and take over the violent ones?

Why did my 6 year-old nephew once asks, “Auntie, the woman hosting this TV show is a Christian. She shouldn’t be allowed to live in Indonesia.” I delivered this question to his parents and they easily replied, “He went to this Islam kindergarten, and perhaps his teacher taught him about other religion. It’s not a big deal.”

Not a big deal?

Living in big cities cause depression for some people. Hatred is something that can easily be injected to young generations, who are having peer pressures and struggling with their own identity. And in small villages, without access to adequate information, the condition is worse. No one dare to have any questions about their faith, no one have the courage to be critical, and this fear is transferred from parents to their children, grandchildren, and so on. Some of them even have the motto of “In Islam boarding schools we trust,” or “In mystical practitioner (a.k.a Dukun) we trust!

So basically I agree with the plan to NOT only fight against terrorism, but also to prevent the virus from spreading to our young generations at the first place. And when we speak about the young people, we are talking about low-educated parents who are already ‘infected‘ by an even dangerous virus of ignorance.

We still have a complicated homework to finish.

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Terpaksa Belajar

Membaca berita tentang kecurangan terorganisir di sebuah SMU swasta di Lampung, membuat saya kembali bangga sebagai bagian dari bangsa Indonesia. Dengan sistem pendidikan yang amburadul dan budaya instan yang menyebabkan banyak remaja menjadi galau tanpa sebab, ternyata masih ada seorang perempuan tangguh bernama Nur Hidayatusholihah (Nunung), yang teguh dalam memegang prinsip, percaya diri, dan berani mengambi keputusan yang melawan arus, apapun resikonya.

Keberanian dan kepercayaan diri yang ditunjukkan oleh Nunung WAJIB menjadi reminder dan tentu saja menginspirasi siapapun. Walaupun gagal, ia menunjukkan bahwa harga diri manusia terletak pada bagaimana ia berani bersikap dan menjalani resiko dari keputusannya tanpa mengeluh. Bahwa tidak ada yang namanya “jalur ekspress” menuju keberhasilan, bahwa semua kesuksesan lahir dari kerja keras dan kemauan untuk mengambil hikmah dari kegagalan sebagai bekal melangkah selanjutnya. Inilah proses pendewasaan dan life skills yang tidak bisa didapatkan di mata pelajaran apapun di sekolah.

Tapi jangan lupa..

Kegagalan Nunung BUKAN karena sekolahnya terlibat kecurangan, tapi karena dia mendapatkan nilai Ujian Nasional (UN) yang rendah. Akibatnya, Nunung terpaksa tinggal kelas dan terpaksa terus-terusan belajar. Apakah guru di sekolah yang kurang memenuhi persyaratan sehingga gagal dalam memberikan pelajaran sesuai standar soal-soal UN, ataukah pihak Kemendiknas yang harus merevisi soal UN menjadi lebih mudah?

Atau sebaiknya UN dihapuskan saja?

Saya jadi teringat ketika bersekolah dulu. Setelah mabok selama 12 tahun (SD, SMP, SMA) dihantui berbagai ujian mulai dari  EBTA, EBTANAS dan UMPTN, akhirnya ketika mau lulus kuliah dan membuat skripsi, saya bisa berkata, “this is what learning is all about..” Bahwa pada akhirnya saya sadar buku-buku itu bukan berfungsi sebagai hiasan lemari, tapi mengandung berbagai teori yang bisa diterapkan dalam kehidupan nyata untuk memecahkan berbagai masalah yang kita hadapi, bahkan untuk menciptakan inovasi-inovasi baru yang bermanfaat bagi seluruh umat manusia.

Berdasarkan pengalaman pribadi itu jugalah, bagi saya ada baiknya juga jika pihak Kemendiknas merevisi kembali standarisasi nilai UN sebagai syarat kelulusan. Daripada membuat siswa terpaksa belajar tanpa tujuan yang jelas, mengapa tidak mendorong mereka untuk mengerjakan sebuah proyek yang mengasyikkan, berdasarkan kasus-kasus yang terjadi secara nyata dan bagaimana teori yang mereka dapatkan selama ini bisa dipergunakan untuk memberi solusi. Selain memaksa siswa untuk kreatif, hal ini akan menunjukkan kemampuan mereka dalam membuat sebuah inovasi.

Jika sistem ini yang diberlakukan, Nunung pasti bisa menyelesaikannya dengan baik. Dengan keberanian dan keteguhannya dalam mempertahankan prinsip, saya yakin dia berhak melanjutkan hidupnya menuju masa depan yang lebih baik. Dengan dukungan sistem yang tepat, bukan tidak mungkin seorang Nunung akan merubah nasib bangsa ini, bersama Nunung-Nunung lain yang siap bekerja lebih keras, dan tidak hanya menunggu uluran tangan atau perlakuan khusus dari siapapun, melainkan bergerak sendiri dan menciptakan sebuah perubahan.

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Kalau Bisa Santai, Kenapa Harus Kerja Keras?

Di negara yang katanya religius dan tepa selira ini, mengapa tindakan Ny. Siami dan putranya yang melaporkan konspirasi busuk di SDN Gadel II, Surabaya, malah menyebabkan dia dihujat oleh tetangga dan wali murid?

Jangan terburu-buru menghujat.

Dalam komunitas orang tua yang mementingkan kelulusan anak diatas segala-galanya, perbuatan Ny. Siami yang mementingkan proses, tentu saja dianggap nyeleneh bahkan disebut sok suci. Tapi kita tidak bisa menyalahkan warga Gadel dan para wali murid. Mereka terlanjur percaya bahwa yang penting dalam sebuah perjuangan adalah hasil akhir. Kenapa begitu? Ya karena semua orang sekarang berfikirnya seperti itu!

Mana ada sih diantara kita yang mau ikutan tes CPNS ketika didepan mata ada yang menawarkan posisi pegawai negeri “siap pakai” hanya dengan imbalan uang 1 juta, misalnya?

Kita sering terlena dan tidak menyadari bahwa elemen “kerja keras” memainkan peranan yang jauh lebih penting daripada hasil akhir itu sendiri. Itulah sebabnya praktik perdukunan disini tumbuh subur. Ngapain  repot berusaha, kalau bisa ke dukun, minta jampi-jampi yang pasti manjur, hehehe.. Kenapa harus menolak uang hibah, nanti kalau jadi terdakwa kasus korupsi, hakim bisa disogok, atau ditinggal kabur ke luar negeri juga beres. Praktik jual-beli narkoba sekarang juga makin canggih, pelakunya hacker, jualan sabu lewat internet.

Orang makin nekat memburu dollar sampai lupa pada kaedah norma dan hukum. Tapi, sadar atau tidak, kita sendiri sering memberikan tepuk tangan dan hormat berlebihan kepada orang kaya, walaupun kita tidak tahu mereka bisa kaya karena apa. Halal atau tidak, kerja keras atau jualan narkoba. Yang penting mereka punya rumah besar, mobil mewah, sering kasih oleh-oleh dari luar negeri.

Anak saya belajar jalan, sekali jatuh langsung diangkat sama eyangnya. Anak saya terbentur pintu, malah pintunya dipukul sama eyangnya. Anak mau makan sendiri, dibilang bikin kotor. Anak mau mandi sendiri dibilang menghabiskan air. Anak teriak karena sepedanya tersangkut, eyangnya buru-buru mengangkat itu sepeda. Nggak usah jauh-jauh ke seorang eyang, kita sendiri sebagai orang tua kadang tidak sadar sudah mempersantai hidup anak.

Padahal, karakter anak dibentuk dari kebiasaan. Dan kebiasaan itu sendiri dibentuk dirumah. Tapi ya bagaimana kalau dirumah itu hanya ada orang tua yang juga terlanjur hidup santai dan tidak mau kerja keras?

Jadi sebelum ikutan protes ke pak gurunya Al, ke Mendiknas, ke Presiden sekalipun, atau meminta Ujian Nasional dihilangkan dari muka bumi, saya sendiri menganggap insiden ini sebagai reminder bahwa saya punya anak yang akan berkembang di lingkungan seperti ini. Apa yang saya bisa saya lakukan?

Yah, berkat Ny. Siami, saya sebagai bagian dari masyarakat yang sakit ini sekarang menyadari bahwa perubahan dan kesembuhan bangsa ini bukan sesuatu yang pantas ditunggu melainkan harus diciptakan sendiri. Kebiasaan baru yang menitikberatkan kepada pentingnya kerja keras bisa dilakukan oleh siapapun, kapanpun, dan dimanapun mereka berada. Sekarang tinggal bertanya kepada diri sendiri saja, mau atau tidak?

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Story of Siami, Story of Honesty

Mrs. Siami & Fatkhurakhman Apologize to Each other (tribunnews.com)

Today, in this so called “religious country” we have seen people acting contrary to what they believe. Worse, nobody realize it until “Al” a 6th grader from SDN Gadel II, Surabaya, bravely speaks to his mother, Mrs. Siami, about a shameful scenario made by his school teacher. Thanks to her, this horrible case finally opened our eyes to the real condition of our culture. That the cost of defending the truth is pretty heavy. Mrs. Siami and Al had to leave their home after a bunch of protesting neighbors showed their anger toward them.

Instead of blaming Fatkhurakhman, the teacher who instructed Al to cheat, parents are pointing their fingers to Mrs. Siami. According to them, Mrs. Siami shoud just shut-up and go with the flow.

Have they lost their mind? Yes, they have, obviously. They are pointing their fingers to the WRONG person. They should thank Mrs. Siami instead. If not for her nerve, Fatkhurakhman will continue being a shameless creep teaching kids that everyone deserves to cheat.

Mrs. Siami escaped from the angry neighbor (suarasurabaya.net)

But it’s hard to tell when you’re just a fish in an ocean contaminated with oil spills. After a certain time, you eventually “adapt” to being black, just like the rest of the contaminated ocean. You do it due to the the fear of being alienated. The fear which has took over your sanity, dignity, and even your fear of God. The fear that forced you to neglect the truth, as long as you can still remain on your comfort zone.

From this embarrassing and heart-breaking case, we know now that we are living in a sick society where the limits between good and bad are no longer clear.

But thanks to Mrs. Siami and her brave-smart-son, Al, we also know that there is still hope for honesty and dignity. All we have to do is learn from her, that sometimes you need to stand up for what you believe, even if it means that you will be alienated, hated, and lose your comfort. And above all, there is still hope for children like Al to grow up and take this country to a better place.

Mrs. Siami's "now empty" house. (surya.co.id)

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Beyond Beauty: “Team Gaga VS. Team Malinda”

If Lady Gaga said that we were “Born This Way” and we should accept ourselves the way we were, my friend thinks that God doesn’t have any reason to be mad to whoever is planning to improve their physical appearance. Including Malinda Dee, and her you-know-what(s).


Thanks to Tribun News, I find her less-sensual pic 🙂

I wrote this as a sincere attention to my friend who is now using steroid injections and hormone pills to add up some curve in his skinny body. He’s been working out regularly at the gym and now he wants to speed up the results. I guess the old, traditional way, of eating plenty of carbs and do the right exercise just seems too long for him to get the perfect muscles he wants. As a caring friend who tried so hard on not to be judgmental, I suggested him to listen Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” song instead, which is, of course, contradictory to what he’s doing.

So how important is it to have the perfect physical appearance anyway?

Here’s what I think. First of all, beauty is skin deep. If the only reason people love you is because you’re pretty (or handsome), what will happen when you’re no longer have those perfect front-exterior? Humans grow old, we’re not Benjamin Button who has a curious case, remember?

Second, If you impress a girl with your hormone-injected muscles, they will stick around for your bodylicious figure, and left you anytime they find someone else with even more muscles! So unless you’re planning to become the Incredible Hulk, I strongly recommend you to think before you stick (the needles, that is).”

It’s a complicated world today. Fat people want to be skinny, and more skinny women prefer to look like drug addicts. What remains the same is: People who really care for you will love you for what you are. Even if you’re a 30-something woman who just screamed “It’s not faaaaiir…!!” in front of her own picture which was taken 5 years ago —when she was still wearing a size-27 jeans, because today, she is forced to be a loyal fan of size-33 jeans.

But who cares?! All this fat in my body, the scratches on my belly, the scars left by naughty pimples on my cheek, and all these wrinkles which will obviously got worse in 10 years or so, will not be taken for granted. Because all of those markings have their own story. The story of my life, my family, and my memories. I do admit that I have to start improving my eating habit, though, and exercise more… and never forget to comb my hair before going to work… and wear a proper dress to conceal my belly…

So in the end, for me, I guess the offer of plastic surgery, eyebrow tattoo, laser scar removal, or the famous, quick solution of liposuction, is just waaaaay to scary and painful for me (and my wallet).

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