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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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Proverb Problematique

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Life is a series of problems that forced us to be wiser and more mature. So many things can fill anyone’s mind, and though we tried to share it with friends, sometimes we still find it difficult to accept their suggestions, usually due to the different idealism.

That is one of the reason why a couple of days ago, I decided to ‘renovate’ my Twitter account and made a new list called ‘QUOTES.’ A bunch of inspiring quotes that mostly gave me a brighter and deeper understanding of life. Sometimes they even managed to provide courage that will help me take certain actions that I never thought possible. I said to myself, “this personally-made list of wonderful words is going to make me more confident in making decisions and finding answers.”

Until I realize that I was WRONG.

I was in the middle of a big, life-changing decision on whether to fast-tracking things that involved many risks, or to be more patient and work harder towards my dream. Should I be pushy, or should I wait and prepare things better?

And you know what, there are enormous quotes about risks and the importance of being courageous. But at the same time, there are also other quotes telling me to accept the fact that there are no shortcuts to one’s dream, and hard work is the only key. I realized that even the most inspiring quotes can sometimes be contradictory, thus my question on courage vs. patient, remains to be an unsolved dilemma.

I know now, that quotes are only good in strengthening our own idealism. But we must never put our life in their hands, or use it as the answers to our problems. I still enjoy scrolling through my ‘quotes‘ list on Twitter each morning, it gave me inspirations and enlightenment, and still share/retweeted some that were in accordance to my beliefs. But I have learned my lesson, that those quotes are NOT a life-guidance tool that can determine what’s best for you.

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Gay Marriage, An Abused Ideal?

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Until now I still have mixed feelings about homosexuality. But lately, things got more complicated when the same-sex marriage is being approved in New York City. As a married woman, I find it difficult to understand the reason and purpose behind this breakthrough.

I always believe that a marriage starts at the very moment when a man said his vows to a woman’s father during the ijab kabul process. This system has put men and women in different positions with different responsibilities. Prior to being married, the responsibility to protect a woman in terms of mental, physical and financial, lies in the hands of her father. But when a woman is being married to a man, her father will transfer all the responsibility to her husband. This does not mean that a woman must rely their life to men all of her life, it is okay if she can be independent and self-financed but still, she can rely to her father or husband for protection.

But apparently, in the same-sex marriages we will not find neither the bride nor the groom. Instead, we will possibly see two grooms, or two brides. In this situation, who will act as the husband (and say the vows), and who will be the wife (whose father will transfer the responsibilities) if I may ask?

Well, it’s a common question for anyone with religious beliefs combined with the influence of the so-called patrilineal culture. But for me, the arrangement of a father transferring responsibilities to men does have magical benefits in creating and maintaining a safe, secure, and sane marriage. If all men understand what it means to marry a woman, they will behave according to their own vows. And we will have no question about their commitment. But in reality, well, every marriages will have their own problems, some can find a solution, some will have to end in divorce.

The approval of same-sex marriage undoubtedly gave a new challenge for two people with the same sex, who wish to legalized their “love-based” relationship into a higher level. But at the same time, it has also abused my ideal portrayal where a marriage is supposed to be a transfer of responsibility from fathers to husbands.

When it comes to my own understanding of a sacred marriage, I know I will never be able to relate it to same-sex marriages. But if you see a marriage as an individual right, perhaps I have to force myself to accept the fact that everyone deserves the chance to share a life together as married couples. No matter what their sexual orientation are.

I surely hope I can. Good luck and congratulations, anyway.

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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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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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If You Decide To Go To Hell

Last night, I was watching one of my favorite series “Glee” and got mixed feelings about the show’s gay character: Kurt and Blaine. I’m not homophobic, I’m just a parent who is still uncertain on how to react. To be honest, they aren’t exactly the kind of role model that you want your son to have, right?

Kurt & Blaine of Glee

But homosexuality is not the only confusing culture which bothers me as a parent of a young boy. A study has presented a controversial result where 51% of female students in Jabodetabek area admitted they have had a sexual intercourse. It’s not a matter of virginity, but it’s how prone they are to sexual diseases and unwanted pregnancy. And yet for the minister, sexual education is still considered unimportant.

As I searched for answers to overcome my confusion, I became lost. For some people, one of the reason behind this “alarming” facts of teenager behavior is parents who no longer stressed on the importance of religion. For our government, represented by the ministry of education, ‘character-building‘ (which will soon be implanted to our current school curriculum) is going to fix this problem. And according to our minister of communication and information Tifatul Sembiring, pornography is the reason behind this mess, hence blocking it (and putting Ariel to jail, maybe) will become the best solution available.

None of the above mentioned solution is satisfactory. Instead of finding the answers, I became angry and more confuse than ever. Luckily after Glee, there was a documentary program about the recent megaquake and tsunami in Japan. And somehow, it was the scientist’s words that opened my mind. “We can’t pretend that the threat of natural disasters don’t exist. We need to find a way on how to live with them, and prepare ourselves for the danger they possessed.”

Now, that, my friend, is what I call a reasonable solution. There’s nothing wrong with having a solid knowledge about religious doctrines that you believe, but when it comes to protecting your child against something that he is unaware of, we need to go beyond heaven and hell.

First of all, we all need to accept the fact that every normal teenager will want a taste of intimacy. But sexual intercourse, is not the only way to satisfy those needs. Especially when it puts you at risk of being infected with deadly viruses such as herpes, hepatitis, and of course the incurable and life-threatening virus of HIV. When you’re enjoying a sexual intimacy, you are “doing it” with anyone else whom your partner have ever had sex with. And who knows what those people are carrying in their genitals. That is why we are strongly recommended to only doing it with our “eligible” partner whom we are married with. It decreases the possibility of being infected with those deadly viruses.

People are threatened by natural disasters, the same way my son (along with the rest of our future generation) shall be exposed to negative sexual stimulator such as pornography. But hiding it away from his sight will be like pretending that tsunamis and earthquakes don’t exist. At any moment, not just from the media, but also from friends, my son (and everybody else’s child) will see it, hear it, feel it, and eventually digest it. Our duty is to provide them with survival tools to choose the good ones, and give them sensible reasons on why they must leave the bad ones. And to my opinion, the hot flames of hell is not sensible enough for the critical minds of the modern young.

Nothing is taboo when it comes to survival and staying alive. It does not mean that I disagree with religions who forbid sexual activities before (or without) marriage, but I do know now, that I can’t solely rely on its doctrines to keep my son away from the danger of modernization. But on the other hand, I can always explain the importance of wearing a condom, just in case he decides to go to hell.

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This post was submitted to join “The Jakarta Post – IMO Blog” Blogging competition on May 2011.

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