Debate on “Merry Christmas” Greeting: When Society’s Dynamic is Sustained

There is always one thing interesting occurring in Indonesia just when Christmas is getting closer: the debate about whether or not Moslems are allowed to give “Merry Christmas” greeting to their friends. It is actually a classic debate and is always repeated every year with more or less predicted result: they are not allowed. However this one is actually unique and its uniqueness is actually rendered due to its repetition.

At first, it does seem very clear that announcement made by Indonesia Ulama Council is made as a prevention for those who are not yet aware and as a reminder if someone has just forgotten about it. If the society wholly believes the MUI then a question arises: why does some people still then eager to have debate on this matter? The answers may vary. Someone may say that such a thing is undoubtedly unnecessary since MUI has no right to judge the degree of someone’s devoutness. Religion is a private matter that actually has something to do between God and thy people. This argument is then countered by the opposite one saying that this announcement is necessary since MUI has a right to determine which one is right and wrong to give a guideline for the Moslem people.

In respect to this matter, I have no right to determine which one is right and wrong since I am not a Moslem. However, this condition just lights Indonesians that the dynamic of this society regarding religion is still there. People still want to debate about the role of MUI in determining the “Merry Christmas” despite the fact that quite obvious result is always expected. This condition is actually important because through discussion and debate they can give arguments to back their claims and perhaps gaining some knowledge from others’ position. As always suggested by Jurgen Habermas: because it is public arena, everyone can raise their position backed by rational argument as long as it does make sense.

Perhaps, it may sound very utopia but only through this way can a society sustain its dynamic and prevent arbitrariness of others to get absolute power. Changing arguments can one day lead others to shift their position even though it is very difficult. It may take long time to achieve unanimous opinion in this matter. But the more important thing is they can have better argument each year and perhaps to rethink about their position later on next year and possibly to reach an agreement someday.

This kind of dynamic is actually needed. The thing that should be emphasized is violence is not permitted whatever the reasons behind them. And one thing that is quite important: since this is the case of Moslem people, it is better for the Christians to not intervene in the process unless they feel that they have sufficient degree of knowledge to enter the debate. Joining the debate without sufficient knowledge will only give negative impact. Because in this case, a reflective question may be risen: how important is it actually to be greeted “Merry Christmas” from other if they are not sincere in doing that? In my opinion, it is not that important as long as we respect each other.


Commemorating Indonesia Independence Day: Facing Intolerance as a New Mode of Colonizer

In its 66 years old, Indonesia still has many tasks waiting to be finished immediately. Economic, deforestation, mining, and other national problems may be part of the tasks. But, there still remaining one task that absolutely seems heavy to be cleared: problem of pluralism in Indonesia.

Two days before Indonesia commemorates its independence day, Serang court gave verdict regarding Cikeusik case and then punished for six months prison for Deden Sudjana from Ahmadi sect. As a comparison, 12 peoples who were clearly engaged in conducting violence only got 3-6 months. Thus, he should bear punishment that is absolutely lighter than several people from the violence conductor side.

Another case can be clearly seen in Ramadhan month nowadays. Even though FPI had given their word for not using violence at Ramadhan month several days before Moslems conducted their fasting, reality said the opposite when FPI should using violence in Makassar against food stall that still opened at afternoon. Furthermore, this tragedy can also potentially happen in Jakarta as several news reported.

Thus a question does rise: when injustice clearly happened in Cikeusik case and people with more power can easily using violence in as much as they tend to do so, how can Indonesia’s independence be conceived as a full freedom?

Talking about Pancasila
At first, Pancasila was conceptualized with principle “Believe in the one and only God” in order to build Indonesia not just based upon nationality, humanity, deliberation, and also social welfare but also to make the independence of Indonesia according to every person’s principle of religion.

Soekarno, at that time, realized that actually Indonesia is enveloped by diverse circumstance, especially in religion. Thus, in his speech regarding Pancasila, he emphasized that among religions that exist in Indonesia, one principle should be a prerequisite: respectful upon other. He noted that it is important for Indonesians to become a civilized people in this matter. Thus, it is absolutely wrong to be egoistic and doing domination upon others based upon Soekarno idea.

When Pancasila would be fully applied as Indonesia basis, a clash happened regarding this principle. There were several groups who supports for using “with the obligation for its Muslim adherents to carry out the Sharia law” and the rest did not give any. The clash actually brought Indonesia independence became unstable. Many regions, especially those are located on East Indonesia, really wanted to release themselves from the unity of Indonesia if the principle was really applied since they felt the principle was used for making Indonesia to become a one-religious country.

Finally, after several debates, it was agreed the words were not to be used and the principle never depicts any religious tendentious for only supporting one religion until now. The principle then does exist as a binding for guarding pluralism with Indonesia slogan”Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (United in Diversity).

Soekarno might be very sad if he could live in Indonesia nowadays. It is not just about the dependence of Indonesia’s economic system or any others factors. But, more important, the principle, which had been admirably explained for more than sixty-six years ago, has been successfully altered and not fully yet applied nowadays.

There is no respectful manner against minority. Nationality then is only an emblem that can no longer bind Indonesians in diversity. Humanity and deliberation have also been neglected under the domination circumstance.

Resurrection of the values
Hence, it is clear that actually Indonesia has lost its essence in toleration though it has been fully explained by Indonesia first president, Mr Soeakrno. Intolerance action nowadays seems become another mode of colonialism since it can potentially split the unity of Indonesia. Thus, in commemorating Indonesia Independence Day, what is important is to rebuild Indonesia toleration and to make Indonesia gets its true essence of independence.

Deliberation without domination is needed in order to make a bridge between difference views in diverse circumstance. This idea was strictly underlined by Soekarno in his speech regarding Pancasila. He based it upon the term of deliberation and democracy that would be a part of Pancasila.

This concept thus has been also shared by Jurgen Habermas by his concept of deliberative democracy. Furthermore, he also adds some regulations and one thing that very important is there is no domination in disseminating one view.
This value that actually Indonesia lacks of that makes intolerance can easily gnaw from inside. It can be clearly seen in injustice case against minority and also FPI that can easily raid food stall and also Ahmadis house in Ramadhan month. Deliberation in Indonesia thus never detaches itself from harsh domination.

This value then has to be resurrected immediately. Domination should be erased by the appearance of law enforcer and justice should be built properly to accommodate people fairly regardless their background.

In this sixty-six years independence day, Indonesia still has to suffer intolerance action that actually has been a long problem since the birth of democracy. But Soekarno said that independence is just a way for achieving a better life in a nation. Thus, by being independence and get free from outer colonizer, it is imperative for Indonesia to escalate its toleration by applying deliberation properly and building justice fairly. This is done in order to prevent Indonesia from its new mode kind of colonizer, namely the intolerance circumstance and finally to achieve total independence of Indonesia in its true essence.