Sat, 09 Dec 2000

Grandfather and grandson

I have a very aggressive, obstinate and stubborn grandson about 7 years old who stays with me.

We he wants something he must get it, if not he will get angry and then he says things he might regret afterward. He is a very spoiled child, indeed.

One day he wanted something and when he asked me I refused to give him what he wanted. He became very angry and shouted at me: "I hate you. I don't like you. You're very ugly. Pak Usman (next door) is handsome and kind and has hair on his head, while you are bald. I don't want to see you again".

I only smiled and told him that what he was saying was not good and certainly not polite. I was not angry and I did not blame him. After all he is just a child. It would be wrong if I reacted in the same way as he behaved.

Then I remembered what I read in the newspaper about President Abdurrahman Wahid lashing out at Singapore and saying things which were not befitting a politician of international caliber, and certainly not a president. What he said might be the truth, but he must also think about the way he expresses it. A proverb says: "It is the tune which decides the music." We should act maturely and in a restrained manner. Fortunately, Singapore did not respond in kind.

Surprisingly, a small and young nation like Singapore can act maturely and not respond to Gus Dur's remarks. Singapore explained the real situation and expressed it in a diplomatically accepted way. Perhaps Singapore only smiles and thinks there is no need to take the remarks seriously, it is just like child's talk. In this case, Singapore takes the position of the grandfather and Indonesia the grandson.

As an Indonesian I like to believe that we are a big nation, a big country with a population of about 200 million which forms about 40 percent of the whole of ASEAN. But if we consider the present domestic situation, we can say that we are a big nation with disintegration looming at all turns, our national economy in shambles and political leaders fighting each other only for their own benefit.

Why are we behaving as if we lacked moral guidance?

What about our state philosophy Pancasila, what about religious norms, what about gotong royong (the traditional principle of mutual help)? The absence of all these things has apparently made God angry, and He has thus sent earthquakes, floods, landslides, typhoons and many other kinds of natural disasters. We should all understand these warnings and stop behaving in an inhuman manner.

In this month of December the Christians and Muslims will celebrate Christmas and Idul Fitri, respectively, almost simultaneously. Let us heed God's warning and live peacefully and love each other. We are not too late.