Friday, December 31, 2004

satu kata itu

ribuan kata tersangkut di tenggorok
kala kudengar satu kata itu

getir dan emosi tak sanggup memisah
kala kulihat imaji sekata

2500, 4000, 40000, 70000, dan 94000
angka melesat bak pasir ditelan

tak sanggup kutanya pada sesiapa, kenapa?
tak pada satu mahluk di bumi
tak pula pada sosok yang kunamai Tuhan

lidahku kelu, airmataku beku
ditelan satu kata

mer, dc...

Monday, December 27, 2004

A post-Christmas devastating news from Asia....

I was horrified to wake up this morning and read about the devastating quake and tsunami that struck South Asia and Southeast Asia earlier today.

Quake, Tsunami Devastate Asia, Over 7,800 Dead

Dec 26, 2004 — By Simon Gardner
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (Reuters) - One of the most powerful earthquakes in history hit southern Asia Sunday, unleashing a tsunami on Sri Lanka and India and swamping tourist isles in Thailand and the Maldives to kill more than 7,800 people.
The tsunami — a menacing wall of water — caused death, chaos and devastation across southern Asia. The tsunami, up to 30 feet high, was triggered by an 8.9 magnitude underwater earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

There are already about 2500 people reportedly died in Aceh and another 2500 in Srilanka... This was the largest quake ever in the last 40 years. Indonesia and Srilanka are reported to be the worst hit countries.

I don't know what to say or what to think.... my mind is flying to a couple weeks ago when I was in Colombo, staying in the hotel facing the ocean... ahh.

I am speechless.... my mind is flying again to one place in Indonesia, Aceh... The place I've never been.... but feels so close to my mind. The place I have known since I read a map of Indonesia when I was 5 years old... The place where some of my Indonesian brothers and sisters live... ahh...

This tragedy is a test of love for human kind. In the spirit of after-Christmas day, I hope the world will be united in peace and love to give hope to the needy. We can and we should be able to at least share love by helping so many affected people who are still alive.

My thoughts and prayers are with you all who are being affected by this tragedy...

Saturday, December 25, 2004

....and let all begin with me...

In the dawn of Christmas day,
I am sitting down in the dark, with 3 big candles..
Candles of love, peace, and hope... glowing in the dark..

photo by mer, 25 dec '04

Let there be Peace on Earth and let it begin with me.
Let there be Peace on Earth, the peace that was meant to be!
With God as our Father, brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me. Let this be the moment now.
With ev'ry breath I take, let this be my solemn vow;
To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally!
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me!

Let there be Peace on Earth,
Let there be Hope on Earth,
Let there be Love on Earth,
and let all begin with me.

Merry Christmas, World!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

My day with John A MacDougall

It was a sunny morning (well, almost noon) when I met John A. MacDougall. If you are Indonesian and a not-so-new Internet user, you must know him.... otherwise you must be a kuper creature! If one writes a history of Indonesian cyberactivism, then John A. MacDougall should the first name on the list. Why? Obviously because of his Indonesia-L--later was known as Apakabar--the Internet based alternative source of socio-political information on Indonesia. I myself cannot talk about the history of Indonesian Internet without mention John and his Indonesia-L.

Back to that day when I met John, Thursday the 28th of October. I took a subway. It was a long ride from downtown DC to Lanham, MD. I changed the train once and finally reached my final stop, College Park station. I called John from the coin public-phone to announce, "I have arrived. Come get me"..:) (as suggested by John in his email re: 'pick-up stuff') and in only about 7 minutes John showed up with his gray Honda.

I jumped to his car and shaked his hand. Funny feeling.... after 'talking' with John in cyberspace for years, I finally really talked to him with my own voice and listened to his voice! Very exciting! A very short car ride brought us to MacDougall's home. It was a small cozy house, far from luxury, so warm that makes you feel comfortable to be around. In the living room, I saw some pictures of John and his wife --Chew Sock Foon, who is originally Singaporean-- here and there. They looked so happy together. John showed me around his house where I looked at 2 old computers John used in the past for maintaining Indonesia-L aka Apakabar. Wow, those computers like coming from the stone-age of computer.. hehe. Well, I remember my first time using a computer more than 15 years ago, it was that kind of computer as well.

After making tea for me, John and I had some conversations. From technology to politics, from Indonesian election to US election, from Apakabar to Firefox! John actually did not really want to talk much about Apakabar. It was the past, he said, and he didn't want everything about him is seen as equal as Apakabar. So, I talked more about other stuff, yet surely couldn't help to dig a bit about Apakabar too for the sake of my curiosity.

Time went fast, finally it was time for lunch! Yes, worms in my tummy were shouting already...:) John prepared food for me... so very nice of him! Our lunch, rice with fish and veggies, was really tasty. I don't know what kind of fish it was, but I really like it, soooo delicious! I also like the coconut drink John served for me. Soooo fresh!

We had more conversation on the dining table. We exchanged some personal stories. John's stories about his life-work experience, in Singapore and USA fascinated me, humbled me. I really learned a lot from them. I was amazed on how knowledgeable John is about Indonesia.

John A. MacDougall has been portrayed as a 'big guy', a 'legend', and sometimes as 'an arrogant American' and other similar labels. But he is not that guy. John for me is a guy who tries to hold on his values in this idiosyncratic world, whose ideals aren't worn out by world's charlatans. He, at the same time, is a simple guy, who tries his best to survive his life day by day and deals with his difficulties. John too, is a real person, who opens his hands to welcome me to be his friend (thanks, John).

After hours of talk, we decided to stop. John drove me back to the station and we said goodbye. I took a train ride home with a big smile in my face and so many thoughts in my head. Oh yes! Now I know that John A. MacDougall is real! And I even got 'oleh-oleh' from him--2 CDs, one plastic bag of bumbu Laksa, 1 can of Thai curry paste, and 1 can of fish in tomato sauce. And all were real.. you can touch and eat them!

Wow... what an exciting day....

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Fundamentalism and Liberalism: Is there any in-between?

On my last day in Singapore, Rani informed me about the discussion about Islamic Pluralism to be held at the Black Box - Fort Canning Center and moderated by JIL (Islam Liberal Network)'s activist Ulil Abdashar-Abdalla, on December 14th Tuesday eve.

Entitled 'Islamic Discourse and the Pluralism of Islam', this discussion did not really focus on the theme itself, rather was showing some examples of attempts in pluralizing the view about religions in Indonesia, which of course is interesting in itself. Not so much new stuff being spilled out, but as always, any discussion about pluralism is always refreshing. And surely is important.

Apart from this particular discussion, what has been crossing my mind is that the discourse about religion somehow is always dichotomized between two polars, fundamentalism vs liberalism, forgetting that between two spectrums there lays a big pond of in-between-ness where most of members of society stand. Speaking about pluralism is not speaking about the dualism of fundamentalist vs liberal, isn't it? Pluralism is a belief that reality ultimately includes many different kinds of things. In discourse about religion pluralism acknowledges the co-existence of groups who hold divergent and incompatible views with regard to religious questions. Thus, borrowing from John Courtney Murray in the 1950s, pluralism therefore implies disagreement and dissension within a community.

Supposedly the liberalism has a totally different view than fundamentalism in interpreting religious messages, by holding on values of pluralism, there could always be space for exchanging ideas and appropriate critiques. However, both should not be trapped in competing for the 'right-ness', 'truth', and 'accuracy' by negating each other. It's true that there is a very thin layer between criticizing and negating, thus in practice it will be difficult to criticize without any tendency to negate nor to exclude. However, this is not impossible, and one should keep this in mind if want to hold on to pluralism.

Other important thing is that the existence of in-between-ness which now somehow is forgotten and ignored. How could be any pluralism in the public sphere if there are only two dominant views and the rest are muted? Supposedly the liberalists (well, easier for me to demand liberalists rather than fundamentalists... some of you know why) believe in the importance of pluralism, they should also encourage any different views about religion to grow and at the end this attempt should be more important than promoting any exclusive view of liberalism. But can one liberalist actually do that? Ya... again, difficult but not impossible.. one should be very unselfish and have a zero ego to do so.....