Being a double-majority (Javanese, moslem), I never really cared about discrimination, SARA, and the likes. On an intellectual level, of course I knew that life is not fair. But hey, it’s not fair in favour of me. So what’s to complaint? What’s to care?
It’s not because of the lack of diversity in my life. Actually, I grew up a “minority” as a Javanese lived in Banjarmasin. So naturally, I have lots of friends whom ethnically different than me. Banjar, Dayak, Chinese, mainland Javanese, Batak, Padang, Ambon, Papua, you name it.
It’s not because of lack of experience either. When I was only 14 years old (May 1997), Banjarmasin was in riot because of a really unfortunate clash of politics and religious matters. I do choose the word unfortunate because unlike Ahok’s case, there’s actually nobody riding the wave nor intentionally cooking the brew.
You may have not heard it, but Banjarmasin riot was one of the biggest scandal of Orde Baru. All of the big shops in town was burnt and several government office plus churches were damaged. News count was about 140 people died, 120 injured, and 180 went missing. Of course, given the nature of news broadcast at the time, this number was really conservative and the true number could actually be bigger.
Heck, three days later I even saw 2 soldiers held the legendary AK-47 while guarded a church near my school. Tanks and Pansers suddenly seem to be sprouted everywhere in the city which thrives on trade. You do know that trade and show of force don’t go well hand in hand right? Yes, it was that bad. In fact, it was so bad that when the time came in 1998 to drag Presiden Suharto down his throne, nobody in Banjarmasin even lift a finger.
So, I know the ugly side of SARA. I’d seen it. Yet, it’s not until 2010 I understand how awful it is. Here the story goes.
I think every descent person ever has experienced the alay, douchey I-am-the-king-of-the-world kind of phase. No? Just me? Okay then. It manifested on many things, the most expensive being drinking overpriced coffee in a fancy, instagrammable cafe.
One day, a friend and I went into the so-called cafe that for mistery purpose shall remained nameless. It was pretty crowded that day and a foreigner about my age asked to share a table with us. After a small chit-chat courtesy of my friend, we knew that she’s from Norway and she did anthropology research in UGM. How interesting. What are you studying?
Yup, I planned to go to Lombok in a couple weeks.
It’s scary over there!! Was it really.. Ugh, I don’t know. Weren’t they like outlaws or something? They must be scary right?
That young lady only smiled, saying nothing. Yet her eyes suspiciously seem amused. “Why do you take this topic anyway?” I finally relented to my own curiousity.
“Well, it’s a serious violation of human rights.” she said with an air of extraordinary patience of someone who’s explaining obvious math to an obnoxious kid.
Don’t you know?
No… I mean I know a bit. Uhm no, I don’t know. It’s not a big deal.
It’s a big deal in our country.
IT’S A BIG DEAL IN NORWAY?!!
Yes, your government let violence happens to minorities. It is a serious violation of human rights. Of course, it’s a big deal.
That night, I remembered all the authors and thinkers that I come to respect so much only after I’m smart enough to understand a bit complexities of the world. I realized what it must be looked like through their eyes.
I’m a textbook case of ignorance. So ignorant that I didn’t realize I was being ignorant.
I am the bad guy.
“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” – Albert Einstein