Flood Disaster and the Time to Ask God’s Mercy

Nowadays, mass media in Indonesia are overwhelmed by flood report in Jakarta. As has been predicted, the five-year flood cycle happened on Thursday, January 17th 2013. Many people got isolated and several non-profit organizations are currently distributing logistics to help the refugees located across the city.

The flood is not then uniquely heap nationally. ABC news, located in Australia, also reported the disaster once it happened. But, the more important thing happened in regard with social media that has produced a great impact worldwide when people in this country began to spread their local news either by text or photos. This then produced a great sympathy toward this country labeled with a hash-tag: #prayforindonesia and #prayforjakarta. This is the thing that I would like to comment upon.

Actually, such hash-tags are not merely symbolic in this country. When the flood was happening, many people in social media began to persuade other to pray for the city in order to ask mercy from the Almighty God so God could easily resist anger and then drain the flood. People in Jakarta asked as if they are the God themselves so they felt that they had a legitimacy to ask God to solve the flood problem in just one day and the usual activities could again exist. But, the question is: why can God become so important in such nasty circumstance?

A suspicion may be arise here: people may regard God as if God is the one who is responsible for the good thing considered from the humans’ point of view. In this condition, it is not God that actually creates human beings. The opposite does actually exist since the request sent to God just to satisfy the needs of humans. But, does this hypothesis can be verified? It can be actually justified, in the easiest way.

If God drained the flood instantaneously, what would be happened in the future in this city? It would be the same. People will be doing their daily activities without even have little attention with their circumstances. They will then throw away their trashes into the rivers in Jakarta. They will also build the many semi-permanent buildings alongside the rivers. They will even have no responsibility when seeing how dirty the rivers are. They will get very busy with their business activities, using plastic bags and throw them away anywhere, pump out the ground water as many as possible in order to avoid paying commercial water, do not have any intention to build green areas to catch the rainfall and many more. The conclusion: there would be no difference even though God had placed his hand upon the Jakarta to lift up the flood. The next question is: can be this prediction verified?

It can be easily answered by looking at the actual activities of the people in this city. Flood is indeed not a rare disaster faced by people living in the capital. As mentioned above, every five years, this city has to prepare itself to face the big flood. But, has it changed the habitual of the people living within?

People in this city have no worry in regard of their trashes. They throw them away as if the street sweepers have the responsibility to take the trashes and put them in their proper place. Even though people know perfectly that to build more buildings in this city and pump out more waters from the ground will naturally downgrade the quality of the land, developers still do it in the same way. For them: the most important point is doing business and the rest is nothing. Now, could it be imagined if God has decided to intervene in this case? It can be clearly seen then: there will be no difference either God will intervene or not. People will stay the same because experiences have showed the tendency of the reluctance of the people to change their habit. People in this city do seem very easy to forget the pass disaster without have any intention to make a simple reflection. And when the disaster happens again, they will rely on God, hoping God will solve everything.

If I were the God, I would like to hear the cry from the people in this city but I would like to add the debit of the flood in order to make them realize how bad their activities really are. And if the big flood did not make them realized, I would like to make this city like happened in the Noah age.

It should be made clear then: it is not good to ask God for help in this circumstance. If Indonesians, especially those who live in the capital, do believe that they are indeed God’s unique creation, why do not they use the ability endowed unto them, namely reason? Human beings differ from animals in this regard and this condition that contributes to make human beings more superior to animals, making them have the ability to subdue nature. But, should it be done arbitrarily? Should reason be used just to satisfy the needs of the present human beings without have any notice about the future generations?

People should then rethink about the possibility to change their greed and bad behavior in regard of the flood issue before asking God for help. Asking God will change nothing except contributing in shaping the humans to become the last men in the city: they will build more buildings and throw away their trashes and when the flood comes, they believe God will provide the way because it has been proven before. But, I do believe that God will never answer the request of the people in such a way. If God really loves his creation, God will not let people to become the last men who will just ask anything for help and never endure any difficulties because the difficulties that actually will shape the personality of people. Thus, the important thing in this disaster is not about praying for this city or the country as a whole: it is more about changing the attitude of the people within the city.

This flood, at the very least, has shown how solidarity –that actually acts as the social glue- can be built when the disaster happened. Hopefully, many things will be learned in the days to come after the flood ended. And what I would like to see is the change of the attitude rather than people who can only raise their hand to heaven, hoping God will solve every problem.

Considering the Disposition of LGBT

First of all, I would like to thank to one of my friend, Poppi Rianty Kemala, for the discussion in regard of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) topic in Sunday night, January 13th 2013. The discussion has pushed me to write down some of our thoughts that may be contributed to LGBT thinking.

LGBT is indeed a very interesting topic. Many people talk about it, especially in a democratic era where people can freely express everything that they consider as right. Furthermore, this topic has also been a hot issue in Paris after several media reported that there was a mass protest in Paris to oppose the gay marriage legislation. This protest was allegedly backed by Catholic Church in France. It did seem strange because France can be actually regarded as one of the Western country that has a tendency to promote liberty and human rights. But, the protest has showed another different aspect: a conservatism that actually still strongly lingers some of the population there.

LGBT, freedom, and the need of recognition

When the discussion happened, I asked my friend who has more than enough experiences talking to LGBT people. She once talked to one of her gay friend and her friend said that he actually did not know why he could fall in love with man. It was something that had happened when he was in his early childhood. He tended to choose play dolls rather than robots as usually played by most of boys.

From this point of view, it could be clearly seen that actually there is something in human beings’ body that regulates the tendency to become a gay person or to make it broader: to become an LGBT person. It does seem like a materialistic view but it does seem logical since in early childhood, people never actually realize about having choices in their lives and they can choose it rationally. Thus, the driving force may be correlated with some of the activities in their body and ultimately in their brain.

But I also actually reject the notion that people are actually fully determined by their activities in the body and brain. I have written about rape case that cannot be justified by the presence of testosterone because people actually have a choice that will drive them to value between the good and the bad things. My reason is as long as people can put their reason behind their actions without have to blame to the presence of everything natural in their body, they can be considered as free. A free person is then a person who thinks and chooses. The question is: why does it seem very contradictory between agreeing upon the materialistic view in regard of the LGBT and the foundation of rejecting materialism in regard of LGBT disposition?

The answer can be started by posing a question: does an LGBT person choose to be an LGBT or he/she is fully determined by their nature? If they freely chose to be an LGBT, it is no longer a problem. They have thought and realized that they should be an LGBT not because they are determined and was born to be such person. They have chosen it rationally by considering several choices surrounded their lives and learning about many possibilities that may actually happen by being an LGBT and eventually it is a matter of their choice. But, if they cannot clearly explain why they become an LGBT person, it is indeed questionable because they do not act as free human beings and just let the nature dictates themselves.

This question is actually located in a private sphere. No one can justify clearly about the disposition of an LGBT person except the LGBT themselves. Thus, the important thing that should be noted here is there is actually no contradiction between materialism and the free human beings in regard of LGBT. If nature dictates them to be an LGBT and they do nothing unless accepting and yearning to be recognized, they cannot be recognized as free human beings. Recognition is indeed important for human beings as stated by Hegel. But, if the recognition is given unto someone who has done nothing, it does seem very useless. The recognition given will only say that: I will recognize you as the non-free human beings and it actually degrades the human beings themselves.

Between the two extremes

Having considered about the free human beings and LGBT, the question that is usually asked is: does a choice to be an LGBT is indeed a right or a wrong one? It is actually important because in daily lives, choosing between right and wrong is indeed crucial and they cannot always be pulled unto relativism standpoint. Raping is bad and wrong and no one will agree that rape can be justified in the right manner. People then actually have a capability to justify which one is right and wrong.

The LGBT can be considered as wrong and bad in many ways as well as the defender of them pose similar notions to justify the manner. Thus, in LGBT case, there are two extremes that will always go into debate. In here, I will pose several arguments which neither reject nor support the LGBT.

Rejecting arguments can be clearly seen primarily in a family when there is a classical approach that a family should consist of both father and mother when developing a child. This has something to do with the emotional development of the child themselves. Thus, lesbian and gay couple will not get in line with this argument. And this argument was actually used in the protest in Paris mentioned above.

Second argument can be pulled unto an extreme point about human beings themselves. Charles Darwin has taught about survival of the fittest and the need of any organisms to multiply and make their offspring inherit the ability of their predecessor. In this view, gay and lesbian never find their justification because they cannot bring their own offspring and thus negates the position of the need for the human beings to survive in this planet.

On the other hand, the supporting argument can be very sophisticated. It does not merely see about giving an offspring or talking about family. Such arguments talk mainly about the liquidity of sexual orientation that can change every time. Furthermore, it also states about the truly aspect of human beings: affection. Love is not about having a partner who different in sex but it is more importantly about having affection. If a man has affection towards another man and they eventually fall in love, it is love and no one can deny it because affection is indeed a unique aspect bestowed to human beings.

There are still many different arguments both rejecting and supporting the LGBT standpoint. But, the arguments stated above do seem enough to give an early depiction about those who reject and support the LGBT. And the reality: LGBT still stands between the two extremes.

Thus, if there is a question asking me about my disposition to LGBT, I would rather say that I am in the middle of the two extremes. I do not fully reject nor do I fully support the disposition because as I have said: as free human beings, I must choose rationally and making considerations based upon numbers of evidences.

But, one thing that I would like to insist is: LGBT people are indeed human beings, regardless of their capability to choose rationally. Thus, they also have a right to live peacefully in this world. It is not our right to neither harass them nor exclude them into an inexistence level. People should not be a kind of human beings in the mid 17-18 century described by Michel Foucault in his book History of Madness when they arbitrarily judge other people considered as mad just because they are regarded to disturb the order of society and then confine the mad behind the bars, exclude them without have any initiative to cure them. The mad living behind the bars is then considered as nothing. People should then not exclude the LGBT. If it is curable, both LGBT and society should go hand in hand to cure the disease but if it is not, people should learn how to live with LGBT people.

What is important thing is learning is indeed a process. If nowadays LGBT is not regarded as disease and not curable, it does not mean that in the future it will always like that. The opposite does always prevail because long years ago, LGBT was indeed regarded as a disease. What do we really need is openness: the sincerity of the opposing sides to always discuss the matter in order to achieve a brighter side of this issue. 

The Testosterone That Justifies Nothing in Rape Case

Recent worldwide news is overwhelmed by the report of the death of a girl student in India after she had been raped and brutally killed by six men in a bus. This incident then absolutely sparked anger across the country. The latest news reported by BBC also said that India judicial system is to apply a program that can fasten the legal process faces by the convicted.

This nasty condition is not a special case in the whole world. India is not the only country facing rape case. Rape is indeed a worldwide problem and it is often the women who are accused for having provoked men’s mind to rape her. It may be too far to talk about rape in India but it is indeed a good example to start with. What I would like to discuss in this article is then about who actually has to be accused in rape case: women or men?

Accusing women in any rape cases are indeed very natural. They can be blamed for having worn a seductive dress so men are induced to rape her. Furthermore, it can also be correlated with the presence of testosterone hormone in men. As stated by Steven Pinker in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature, the presence of the hormone has something to do with sexual desire and the will to power by men. Thus, there is a strong relation between the first and second reason. On one hand, women are said to “invite” or to become seductive and it will then deliver a notion that justifies that rape is something natural to men. It is then very legal to rape women in any circumstance that is considered as seductive by the perpetrators.

But, accusing women in the direction has a contradiction indeed. The contradiction is located on the premise that human beings are actually free agents. By following the logic of accusing woman and the nature of men for having huge sexual desire, it can be concluded that people are not free agents. A person is merely a set of atomic molecule that interact each other, producing testosterone, and the sexual desire is the product of the interaction. And it is indeed an extreme kind of materialism.

But human beings are beings who are endowed by reason and not only desire. Bestowed by reason, human beings can actually rethink about their actions. That is why they can choose and value something: good and bad, legal and illegal, worthy or not worthy. When valuing something, people are actually putting something behind the things valued: it becomes the reason why they value something bad or good, legal or illegal and so on. It is clear then that actually human beings can put their reason behind something. That is the way that justifies why people are free because they are the free agents who are not merely determined by the interaction of atomic molecule in their body. They can put the reasons why they do something.

Back to the rape case, it is then questionable when women are accused as being the true perpetrators of any rape cases. The question to be asked is: if women have worn a burqa and still raped, who should be accused? Is it women for having very seductive or people will get back to the basic of nature saying that testosterone will justify everything?

From my point of view, testosterone is indeed a fact but to rape a woman is a matter of choice. As has been stated above, human beings are indeed free agents and they can actually choose to rape or to not rape. Accusing women as the perpetrators of rape case has undervalued human beings itself because it has no difference by saying that: human beings have been fully determined by the interaction of atom molecules inside their body and they are no longer free agents. Thus, a religious doctrine should also be doubted: why then it is said that God created humans and endowed it with reasons? Accusing women is very wrong because it will negate the notion that human beings can freely choose their actions and put the reasons why they do the actions.

Thus, what is important nowadays is to put a value in any societies, especially unto every boy, that rape is indeed an evil action. I wonder why any societies can successfully put a value stating that it is an embarrassing moment of if there is a boy crying but they cannot successfully put a value stating that rape is indeed an evil case. What I do believe is this value can actually be embedded unto every boy in this world and this will undoubtedly shape their mind when they grow up because choices are made based upon many considerations and embedding value in early childhood is indeed very important.

The second way that can be done is also by strengthening the role of police in every country. They cannot blame the victim as happening in India as reported by several news portals. They should act as the guardian who protects the citizens inside the country. Furthermore, tough punishments can also be applied in rape case because from my point of view, rape case is indeed very unique since it will cause a long trauma and bring stigma for the victims.

If the value has been perfectly embedded, I do believe that even though there is a naked sexy woman standing in front of group of man, she will be very secure because the men will say in their mind that it is wrong to rape a woman. Sexual desire may arise in the circumstance but they can perfectly curb the desire because they realize that they are the free agents who are not determined by their testosterone.