Indonesia’s Young and Future Generations and Their Comfort Zone

First of all, I would like to thank to one of my friend, Aloisius Reinaldo Tanujaya, for having this conversation in our way to buy a thermocouple as a preparation for conducting our research. This writing is then produced based upon our talk on our way to Cikapundung market, Bandung.

This talk began with our sharing about academic world in Indonesia and worldwide. Sharing and comparing based upon experiences then shows that actually Indonesians can actually survive when they are studying abroad. This is the notion that I have always defended: Indonesia does actually not lack of any experts since its students can attain sophisticated achievements abroad. This condition shows that actually Indonesians should not have any inferior feelings toward foreign people. Furthermore, endowed with the abundance of natural resources, Indonesia should have been able to lift up its marginal people. But, a cliché question remains: why does the country seem very hard to make its people more prosperous?

Corruption, lack of transparency, negligence in conducting clean and effective government may be raised as the most reason aspects. These aspects are put to blame since they will not bring Indonesia to be effective, especially when this country should compete with other nations. I strongly agree with this argument, but there is one main problem remains: this has something to do with current and future generations.

Let start by asking a question: how many well-known university student who want to pursue their career in multi-national companies, especially in oil and gas sector that can give a huge amount of salary? I bet more than 50% of students will likely go to such companies. Working in such companies has two main advantages. First, in regard with cost and benefit analysis, the huge amount of salary offered by such companies is promising, especially for the fresh graduate student. Second, working in such companies somehow will bring indirect effect of the rise of self-esteem since it will be regarded as “more valuable.” But, will it bring any good to the nation?

The answer does heavily depend upon in what way the people view the work they are doing. For Hegel, working is a state when people actually can achieve a higher degree of consciousness when they realize that they can subdue their nature. It is true that the first time, people work as a slave but in regard of time, they should have realized that they can be a master of the nature. In this respect, people will stop act like a slave. They will learn about properly subduing nature and then become the master.

Unfortunately, this condition seldom happens when people have chosen multinational companies that have offered numerable advantages. In this respect, people will always learn about subduing nature but they are incentivized to not become a master by becoming a slave of material, just say money for short. In this circumstance, cost and benefit analysis does still exist. They are reluctant to get out from the companies because they have been incentivized by living glamorously. They are scared that if they get out from the company, they will face a risk that they cannot bear. It can be said that such people are trapped within their comfort zone.

The problem is Indonesia will lose its experts if the condition continuously happens. Young and future generations will not think about how to speed up the development of the country. Rather, they will always think that they should be rich and not to take a risk in building this country. This can pose a further problem such as gated society but I will not explain such a society in this article. What is important to note here is: once the potential experts are incentivized with materials, there is a huge risk that the country will lose many experts.

But the opposite condition may happen. People may choose to work on multinational companies temporarily and then choose to resign and then build up this country. When I talked such notion to people, a question that is often posed is: From where can we get the capital? The answer is indeed very easy. Once you enter a university, you have many friends and connection is established. Why do not build a company based upon this solidarity? Another possible answer: you need not to build everything from zero. Many national companies are waiting for the experts to come and they will be very happy to accept people who have proper knowledge. Thus, the good question is not about capital, it is more about: how dare you to get out from such companies?

I was then remembered once I entered my current university and once I got into my current study program. In orientation days, people stood in front of the new students shouting everything that had something to do with this country, about building this nation and so on. Furthermore, in my process to enter the student union, I was always insisted that I should get out from the comfort zone.

Now, I just can pose a question: where are you now, my seniors? Have you been accepted in multinational companies and get blind with the huge salary? What a hypocrite you told me in orientation days! Have you ever thought to get out from that comfort zone or have you chosen to just let your soul be sold unto them? Remember that you are Indonesia’s experts and you have huge potentials to build up this country.

The main problem lies within ourselves: how dare we to challenge ourselves? I often feel that conquering a mountain is absolutely easier than conquering myself. In mountaineering, I know that I should achieve the peak of a mountain and the journey will soon end. Even though the journey is long and tough and I have never had an imagination of the peak, I know the peak is there. But how about conquering myself? I never know the location of the peak until I realize that I have conquered it. The journey can be so much long. But at the last, I know that it will be worth for having conquering myself and let not my soul sold. But, the prerequisite does exist: innumerable risks faced by everyone taking this way.