June 3, 2023

Are You Proud of Being Indonesian?

Are you proud of being Indonesian? Find out what Magdalene's contributors and friends think.

  • August 17, 2016
  • 7 min read
Are You Proud of Being Indonesian?

Rudy Madanir, Journalist:
“Proud” is too strong a word and Indonesia is way too big to be generalized. That is why I must say that I am proud of our founding fathers, our freedom fighters and our patriotic youths of 1928 generation, without them all the pluralistic Indonesia would not stand united until today. I am proud of Soekarno and Hatta, but I have mixed feelings about other top leaders who came after them.

I am proud of the many colors of Indonesian culture. But I am not proud of the current Indonesian society and religious conservatism that discriminates against minorities. In brief, I may not always be proud of Indonesia. But that does not stop me from loving Indonesia till the end of my life.
R.L., Advertising Executive:
At this very moment, no. I used to be, though.
I am sick of a corrupt government that has no long-term vision. A government that makes poorly researched policies and divide its own people to stay in power. Most of all, I’m disappointed in the people, who are easily manipulated and think social media activism is true activism. Things don’t change because the people, in reality, don’t want it. 

Indonesia is a rich country that acts like it’s poor. Its people are poor, but act like they’re rich.
Wulan Danoekoesoemo, Lecturer/Executive Director of Lentera Sintas Indonesia, a supporting group for sexual violence survivors:
I am a proud Indonesian. Always have and always will. My country may have tons of flaws but there are a lot of us who are also believers. We believe in a united prosperous country that once feared by other nations. We are a middle power country with one of the biggest population in the world, talking about human capital there mostly under developed, but somehow there are a lot of good people who are also striving to provide better living conditions for fellow countrymen.
I am so proud to see a lot of Indonesian young minds taking ownership of the nation’s issues, eagerly and innovatively looking for solutions and able to bring the country proud. These young minds are what the country needs, hence investment is a must.
In addition, the country needs to also incorporate patriotism into its education system. People need to feel the pride of the nation, respect of the history of the Independence and make full use of the independence privilege that includes safety, stability, and access to education and primary health care.
Sophia Hage, Medical Doctor/Campaign Director of Lentera Sintas Indonesia:
YES, I’m proud of being Indonesian. Because Indonesia has given me and taught me so many things, the knowledge and wisdom that I don’t think I can get anywhere else. If I’m proud of what I’m doing or what I’ve achieved, it’s because Indonesia taught me that first.
I learn that living in Indonesia means respecting each other in diverse environment and culture, and the diversity is embracing each other. I learn from Indonesia that the ocean, the mountains and the lakes can help me learn about myself better. I learn about the power of story, how history is easily transformed through writing and broadcast, but many people would not forget the stories that pass on through generations. I learn that when we’re scared to speak up, there will not be any change. I learn that nature can be destroyed, animals can extinct and people can easily forget. But most importantly, I learn that hope and the spirit of change is real. Life is a work in progress. It’s not perfect but it doesn’t mean that you can’t fall in love with the process.
Tomi Suryo, Non-Profit Employee:
When I see a pack of motorists going into an opposite TransJakarta bus lane, it’s hard to be a proud Indonesian; when security apparatus launch a lawsuit against a rights activist who tried to expose drug scandals, it’s oxymoronic to be a proud Indonesian; and when the survey results say the majority groups don’t want to live side by side with the minority groups, including the LGBT, I feel ashamed to be an Indonesian. Stupidity, ignorance and bigotry have become the bywords of everyday living in Indonesia. Happy Tragic Independence Day! 
Margaret Agusta, Editor/Writer:
I am proud of being an Indonesian because I relate strongly to the resilience and determination of the people of my adoptive country to climb out of a brutal colonial past and build systems that benefit instead of exploit people of all walks of life. We are not entirely there yet, and we must never give up on the effort to move forward. We must strive to apply the traditional wisdom of the various regions in united effort rather than allowing entrenched divisions to shatter our dreams as has occurred repeatedly in the past. I believe this is possible if we learn from that past and deliberately and systematically set aside our differences and our vested interests for the sake and good of all Indonesians, while embracing the vision of a new fully egalitarian and truly independent Indonesia.
Meutia Chaerani, Non-Profit Employee:
This is not an easy question to answer for me. I would ask back: what entails being Indonesian? Being a freethinker, I don’t think I fit the mold of average Indonesians. 
Let’s say that having the green passport and having been born in Bandung define me as Indonesian. Still, it is a question with a complex answer. 
I am tired and sick of Indonesians’ hypocrisy, corruption, laziness and close-mindedness. I don’t like my green passport because it is so difficult to travel the world with it (I love traveling). Seriously, just because of this, I am thinking of changing my passport. 
But I could also say that I am proud being an Indonesian, because the country had shaped me into who I am today. Indonesia’s shortcomings teach me about things that I shouldn’t become, but they also show me huge potentials by overcoming those shortcomings. 
Despite all the negative qualities, Indonesia has rich diverse cultural heritage, amazingly beautiful natural environment, and highly creative people with ingenuity. All those qualities define us as Indonesians. The basic values that underlie the founding of the country are noble and distinctly Indonesian ­– those are the values that I hold dear into my heart. Because of that, I am proud to be an Indonesian and to be in a place where I can contribute directly to the betterment of the people and environment of this country, in small or big ways. 
Yenni Kwok, Journalist with Time and the New York Times in Hong Kong:
I have lived much of my life overseas: studying and later working outside Indonesia. But I still consider myself an Indonesian, holding on to my Indonesian passport, because I am proud of being Indonesian. It’s not only the diversity – languages, ethnicity and faiths – but also the tireless and passionate effort of its civil society to right the wrong and fight for a just cause. As a journalist, I saw how they launched the social media campaign for the government to spare the life of trafficking victim Mary Jane Veloso and to give attention to the brutal rape and murder of teenage schoolgirl Yuyun. These were collective efforts by rights activists, feminists, filmmakers, scholars and average citizens.
Indonesia’s democracy isn’t perfect, but such passion and persistence of the civil society helps keep the democracy alive. 
Elisa Sutanudjaja, Urbanist:
Learning and reflecting from past experiences especially from the past three years, I would say I am cautiously proud being an Indonesian. I am proud that Indonesia is a leading country in open data and democracy. Although there were some setbacks, especially in human rights issues, environment and gender on national level, I am hopeful and proud of citizen activism in Indonesia.
Despite my concerns as Indonesian, there are three things that always and constantly make me proud: Indonesia’s culture, food and heritage.

Editor:  Magdalene
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