Why Should People Debate About “Merry Christmas” Greeting?

Greeting “Merry Christmas” to Christians from Moslem people in Indonesia is debatable. Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI) has long prohibited Moslem for doing such actions. The reasons behind such policy are indeed the private sphere of Moslem which I cannot explain at the very best way. In regard of the reason, I prefer readers to ask individually to MUI about the policy. What I would like to underline in this article is about emphasizing the importance for using our reason: the best gift endowed from Our Creator. Furthermore, I would also like to talk about the priority objection above the greeting case.

Using reason

“Merry Christmas” is a greeting. Moreover, it is only a phrase comprised of two words. It actually has no mean other than saying that “Merry Christmas.” Thus, why should it become a problem? As I have said before, it is not my objective to define and explain specifically the reasons. I would like rather to take account of it from the point of view of the Christians.

As I have also said that “Merry Christmas” is about a phrase. Thus, why should it be a source of debate? Why do not people also debate about saying “Good Morning” or anything else? Does it because it has something to do with religion then it should be taken seriously? From my point of view, there is nothing special in regard of the greeting. I know that I would feel that I am respected if I have been given such greeting. But, above all, I do not mind if my Moslem friends do not give the greeting because of their faith. Does life consist of choices and people are free to make their choice? If I am the defender of pluralism, why should I insist Moslem people to say “Merry Christmas” to me? Were it the case, I would become the very paradox of pluralist defender. Thus, I thought that it is actually not worth to debate about the greeting. I do not mind if I am not greeted but what I would take the opposite standpoint in regard of another case related to this.

It is true that people are free to make a choice regarding several issues. But, it would be very regrettable if people make choice arbitrarily and do not use their reason properly. In this case, they do not make proper consideration why they choose something. Rather, they have chosen something blindly. Why should then people choose something using their reason? It is because reason is the best gift ever endowed by God. If people never use their reason in considering their decision, it will be very useless the mind bestowed to them. Thus, in using reason and mind in considering their choices, people are really free; they are not bound by several dogmas that will prevent them from critical thinking. Moreover, by using them properly, people are really human beings and not the slave of others.

If then Moslem people have deliberated properly to not give a “Merry Christmas” greeting for their Christians’ friends, I thought it would be very well: we should respect their choice as free people. But, it would be very regrettable if they just follow the dogma without have to play their ability to critically think about everything. The later case that should be debatable rather than discussing about should I give my Christian friend a “Merry Christmas” greeting because it will depend upon their reason.

The priority objection

It is clear then from my point of view that “Merry Christmas” greeting is not that important if the people refuse for doing so have deliberated and choose not to do the action, not just by following the dogmatic phrase. Still overwhelmed by the Christmas atmosphere, the priority objection of the Day is not about greeting but about intolerance case that is still taking place in the country. This is the true problem that has to be faced by Indonesians and not just debate about “Merry Christmas” greeting.

In 2012 Christmas Day, GKI Yasmin and HKBP Filadelfia people still faced intolerance in regard of their worship building. They still cannot afford the permit to construct the worship-building. As has been reported from several activists, they then choose to conduct the mass in front of the Presidential Palace but as can be easily predicted, there is no conscience showed by the President or the Vice President in regard of the case. The question is: if President can give direct command in regard of KPK case, why cannot he give the same in regard of the intolerance case?

From my point of view, what does make the greeting case and intolerance case different is when the former is located in the private sphere, the later is actually located in public sphere. Tolerance is not about private sphere because it has something to do with giving others the chance to conduct their religious practices. It is about civic goodness rather than promoting individual goodness.

I will be very disturbed then if I know that there is a person who has consciously decided not to say “Merry Christmas” but on the other hand he/she does not promote tolerance and keep silence in regard of the GKI Yasmin and HKBP Filadelfia case. In the case, I would rather say that such people have not used their mind properly because when they have achieved the degree of consciousness where diversity is realized, they should actually promote tolerance in order to maintain the diversity.

From this short essay, what I would like to say is absolutely clear. It is not the greeting that Indonesia actually needs. This country, endowed with people with many diverse backgrounds, has a bigger issue rather than a greeting: intolerance case that always brings our brothers and sisters live in a horrible way of being assaulted by others. This is actually the value that we should promote in this Christmas Day, regardless of your view about giving the greeting if you have chosen it rationally.

When Students’ Lives Become Paradox and Unconsciously Violate Others’ Rights

At my campus, talking about oil and gas resources in the country is indeed a very hot topic. As a technological institute, the campus does seem to have an implicit responsibility to shift the paradigm in maintaining oil and gas resources. But the question is: aside from the ideological point of view, how does a reality really say about the students’ lives itself?

I have said several times how glamorous the students are in my campus. Bringing private vehicle is something necessary even though they actually need not such vehicle. From my point of view, rather than using the vehicle as transportation mean, it is only used as a mean to show off. Why can I say such hypothesis? It is actually easy to prove. If the distance to go to the campus is less than one kilometers, is it logical to bring private vehicle to campus? There are many public transportation serving in the city and why do not students use the transportation? Why should rely heavily on private vehicle? Let say that it is not a show-off, the appropriate reason then for such conduct is indeed the laziness. Should it be the reason behind such actions?

Between idealist and reality
What I would like to emphasize here is one thing: rather than talking about oil and gas multinational industries and Indonesia’s dependency upon them, why not to change ourselves first?

Deliberation about natural resources in Indonesia is indeed important and I absolutely agree that students should have a critical standpoint in resolving the acute case. But, what can we do as students? It is very often that at the very last, our paradigm and opinion will only be an opinion. Indonesia does not have any politician; what does really exist in this country is the opposite one. Were it the case, Indonesia would not have any bad men in politics. But reality clearly shows us the different. Thus, it is clear that we cannot directly affect the whole process of making political decisions, especially about oil and gas resources. Lobbying is indeed important to shift the decision-makers and can student actually afford such extent of lobbying? Unto what extent is students’ aspiration taken into consideration?

Emphasizing deliberation and discussing about national problem is indeed important but it will raise a doubt where student cannot show to society that they also fully support their deliberation in their daily lives. Have students’ lives nowadays indicated such disposition? Do parking lots in campus that are overwhelmed by students’ private vehicles depict the substance that is often deliberated by students’ lives itself? It does seem very idealist in one hand and reality talks on the other hand.

Violating rights
There are several objections that can be raised when talking about private vehicles in campus. I have talked about economic disparity that can be automatically triggered by such actions. Furthermore, I have also analyzed about how civic goodness cannot be taken into important thing when such issue is not properly handled. But, in this article, what I would like to emphasize is about violating others’ rights in regard with bringing private vehicles. This then will bring to the second contradiction in students’ lives, where aside from the contradiction between idealist and reality, the condition also shows that even though students often shout for people’s aspiration, they do not have enough certain consciousness that they have actually violated others’ rights.

First of all, in regard of private vehicle, I have no objection if people can use non-subsidized fuel as their priority for their vehicle. I have several friends that I praise for their consistency in using non-subsidized fuel. In this regard, I thought that they have rights to talk about oil and gas resources in this country. But, how about those who use subsidized fuel?

It has been well-known that the consumption of subsidized fuel in the country is swelling. About forty-four point four million kiloliters of subsidized-fuel cannot fulfill the needs of the country. What makes the case worse is private vehicle has contributed in making the swelling process of the consumption and the contribution of students’ consumption cannot be neglected. It may be said that it is not significant if we talk about one campus. But, how many students in Indonesia who bring private vehicle to campus and use subsidized fuel as their priority? Can it be said then that it is negligible? I then have a doubt when student conducted protest in order to prevent law-maker increased the price of subsidized fuel: was the protest conducted as an actual representation of people’s need or their natural desire so they had not to spend more money for buying fuel?

The second objection in regard of the case is about our environment as a whole. Global warming is no longer a hoax and we also know that by using private vehicle, we have contributed in making the environment to be more polluted. By doing so, we seldom realize that we have neglected the rights of the population inside the city who have rights for better air. Student know very well about how bad our environment really is but why they still use private vehicle to go to campus? Does it indicate that they actually contribute in violating others’ rights? Thus, there are two objections until now: violating rights by using subsidized fuels that are actually not designed to be consumed by them and polluting environment. This then shows how paradox students’ life really is.

The last objection in regard of the case is about saving fuel for future generation. How can we manage the consumption of fuel effectively and efficiently if we are very greed right now? It can be said that the future is about green energy. But, I have said on my article before that unless people are challenged, they never achieved such degree of green energy. And the reality shows us that until now, most of us only rely heavily on fossil fuels. Thus, whose rights that has been violated? It is the future generations’ rights that have been violated. People act nowadays as if they are the last men standing on the earth without have no responsibility for the future. And students’ glamorous lifestyle has contributed significantly in such issue.

Thus, the question is: Do students still want to do the same? Being a paradox in themselves and violating others’ rights? I hope there will be a change, a little change. Just leave the subsidized fuel and try not to use private vehicle. It is just that easy. The hardest ones is to fight against the laziness and to release the pride of being glamour.

The Last Man and The Slave in Indonesia’s Energy Sector

After reading of one of my friends’ blog, I was then carried to think deeply about the current circumstance in Indonesia, especially in regard with energy issue. This posting can then be considered as a response to my friend’s writing, but it should be underlined that I have produced it with my whole originality.

Discussing energy issue in Indonesia does seem endless. The country has many crucial issues in regard of energy. First of all, it can be clearly seen when BP Migas was eventually dismissed by Constitutional Court. Such regulatory body was considered to be a body that did not give enough support for Pertamina, Indonesia’s Oil and Gas Company, thus giving away Indonesia’s oil resource to foreign companies. Secondly, the issue that has something to do with social lives, namely subsidized fuel. As has been widely known, almost a quarter of Indonesia’s budget is used as a fund to subsidize variety of needs. And fuel takes the dominant part of the subsidy. Thirdly, with our dependence unto foreign companies in lifting oil, it does seem that Indonesia can have no independency in supplying its energy demand.

As has been stated on my friend’s blog, even though the country has many energy sources to be converted to renewable sources of energy, such conversion are seldom accomplished. A question is: we know that there is much potential there, but, why does Indonesia still get trapped in fossil fuel? Is it caused by the lack of human resource? I do not think that such answer is plausible. I would rather say that Indonesians have become last men in regard of energy sector.

The last man and our current issue

Having reading Francis Fukuyama’s treatise The End of History and The Last Man, it is clear then the last man is a person who does no longer face any difficulties in his/her own life. This circumstance is absolutely different compared with the first man described by Hegel.

Such first man, according to Hegel, was a person who always tried to be recognized as a human being. Thus, he/she can engage in a bloody battle just to be recognized. At the very last, those who became the victor would be the master and the rest will be the slave. The slave would beg to the master in order to live peacefully. The master could then use the slaves to achieve his/her own goal. In such circumstance, the master was considered more worthy because he/she can surpass his/her own natural desire and to get engaged in a war in order to preserve their dignity. On the other hand, the slaves, who surrendered, were considered less worthy.

But as time went on, the slaves would soon realize that they also longed for their dignity. Throughout work on nature that was imposed by their masters, they knew perfectly that they could master the nature and should have not been considered as slave. On the other side, the masters also longed for more recognition because they did not consider the recognition raised by the slaves since the slaves had been downgraded, no longer human beings. This condition then would bring people unto an equal condition, no more slaves and masters. Each person is equal. Unfortunately, this condition also brings people toward a condition where last man does appear; because there is no longer struggle for recognition, persons will be automatically downgraded. Their lives will be only used as a mean to fulfill their natural desires, like a slave but with no masters. And there is no reason to have an outstanding personality to be proud of.

This condition is actually happening in Indonesia. The fact shows that fresh graduates tend to apply for a job that offers them a competitive salary, no matter what flags do the companies bear. It is also a fact that almost of all current students enjoy the subsidized fuel, even though they can be classified as upper class. Both of these examples clearly show that Indonesians have been trapped to become the last man: human beings who need not to struggle to achieve something and can no longer see something different except something that will bring them to richer and then fulfilling their natural needs. Thus, who to blame: ourselves as Indonesians or Indonesia Government?

Proud, challenge, and value

It is clear then there is something that should be achieved in order to avoid to get trapped in becoming the last man. Moreover, the something offered should produce proud feeling for those who have achieved it.

In regard of the first case, it can be said that working in a multinational company can bring prosperity and more proud-feeling rather than working in a national company. Working in such company is then considered as prestigious. Well, this argument is not wrong but it should be scrutinized further.

From the above explanation, it is clear that the slaves would realize that they actually could become a master throughout work because they realized that they could master their nature. This emphasis actually lacks when people are working in a multinational company. Their prestige will stop as long as they can live peacefully and thus never realizes that they actually can master their nature. They never learn from multinational companies how they can achieve such outstanding technologies. What Indonesians often do are merely just operators: high salary and no need to learn to master the technology. Is it freedom? Yes, free to get released from needs difficulties and shortages, but not as human beings. It is quite clear why Indonesians like to become slaves in their own country.

Regarding of the second case about subsidized fuel, I thought that it is absolutely the fault of Indonesia Government. The question to be asked is: until when the fuel should be subsidized? It is a good idea if the subsidized fuel can be controlled so it will not harm the essence of subsidy that is actually directed for poor people. But, the reality shows the opposite. Such action will only bring Indonesians to not be a creative and hard-working person. It does seem like parents who always supply the daily needs of their children until they grow up and get old. But, the children will never get mature.

Releasing subsidized fuels will then bring two advantages. First of all, it will incentivize people to conduct more researches in order to produce renewable energy commercially. Secondly, it will make people learn that they should work very hard to achieve something that will bring convenience for them. But it seems that Indonesia Government never considers such advantages. By giving more subsidy, and not controlled, will only aggravate the condition to become the last man in energy sector.

Thus, what can be done? As I have stated above, I do believe that this country does not lack of human resource. What we do really lack is the human beings who want to strive, struggle, take pride for not having subsidized fuel and have greater value in their own lives. It means that Indonesia is lack of people who are brave enough to be recognized as true human beings who are recognized by their struggle to have values rather than just fulfilling their natural needs. Indonesians have been successfully trapped by every easy access offered to them and they are never incentivized to achiever more.

It is then the homework for all Indonesians: both of Indonesia government and society, especially the young generations who will become leaders for the years to come. Indonesia needs the brave and creativity from its own citizens. Without such value, independence will never get its essence.

Thus, talking about renewable energy is important, but to change our mindset is more important since it is the latter that will drive the former. Without having pride to involve in such projects and always get trapped in fulfilling natural needs with every ease offered by multinational companies or government, it will be a utopian dream to have renewable energy and let this country imports renewable energy in the future. I do not hope it to be happen and I do believe, we all Indonesians also yearn for the independence in our energy sector. And we can start it together: to quit as a last men.