Few weeks ago, I had a chance to be interviewed by one of my friends who is currently working on a social project promoting tolerance culture in Indonesia. In short, she asked me to give some comments about tolerance culture and also about the current political situation in Indonesia. Once the interview finished, she then finalized the draft and put it on the website. I was then quite impressed knowing the title of the article. In short, the summary of my thought that is put as the title is about my statement saying that Indonesia is never running out of good people.
Encountering a kind stranger
My statement actually comes out when she asked me about is there any particular situation that makes me really falls in love with Indonesia. I then recalled my experience when my friends and I were planning to hike a mountain in Indonesia. In the middle of our journey, we then met a stranger in a bus. The stranger then asked where we would like to go and he then continued talking while also kindly offering us some salak (snakefruits) to be eaten together. It did not stop there since after that he also offered us to have a rest in his house. We then spent one night in there and ate together with his family. The next day, he and his friends also kindly accompanied us to the nearest village before we started hiking the mountain.
When I reflected back this moment, I just realized how kind such a person. It just started as a real stranger in a bus. Just because he knew that he could help, without any hesitation, he just offered us a hand to help. I could not imagine such a thing to happen because in any metropolitan cities like Jakarta -the city where I was born and have been living- meeting a stranger and offering a help is something that is uncommon. We never know exactly what is going to happen when offering such a help since we do not know what is the background of the people whom we offer help. Something bad that we do not want to happen might just happen because of this. On the other hand, the person whom I met just jeopardized all of my prejudices. And so then I think why Indonesia is just never running out of good people.
Problem of trust
However, there is one real problem here. While an optimistic feeling rises when such a kind thing happens, it is also true that this kind of situation is uncommon or even rare as what I have said before. People living in metropolitan cities rarely trust stranger. This indeed does make sense considering how often criminality does happen and the nature of the social lives in such cities as well. This might probably not the case in rural villages where people still know each other quite well and thus they are also able to develop a strong bonding of trust among themselves. So the question is how can people really increase the trust among themselves? In particular, how Indonesians start to trust their fellows?
Trusting each other is not something that can be developed overnight despite the fact that it will bring numerous benefits towards the society in the long run as has been completely explained by Francis Fukuyama in his treatise ‘Trust’. The problem with developing trust is about how to start to trusting other who are not from our ‘circle.’ For Indonesia in particular, this situation is undoubtedly challenging considering the diversity of the people living in Indonesia. This might also be worsened by our disposition for not trusting our policy makers who should have had a capability to promote trust among Indonesians. In fact, it is often the case that those who are in power are more keen to loosen the social trust by encouraging sectarian thinking.
Developing trust can then only be done by putting those ‘good people’ in the front line. A man whom I encountered during my journey above, for instance, did not have any bad prejudice at all towards my friends and myself. He opened up his arms to kindly know and help us since he knew he could help. Only by doing this could Indonesians -and human beings in general- start to trust each other. Promoting sectarian thinking is definitely useless since it basically only says that the other are not worthy of our attention because they are not ‘us.’
So, to close this writing I would like to return back to where this writing begins: that Indonesia is never running out of good people. Now the homework is then how to bring these ‘good people’ to be leaders so they are able to give higher impact to the society in general. Only by doing so could Indonesia then start to be a better place for everyone, regardless of their background, because we now start to trust each other and make a better social cohesion.