Mon, 25 Aug 2003

Idealism and reality

Aside from the festivities and merrymaking that so many people from all walks of life enjoyed while celebrating the 58th anniversary of Indonesia Day, other events took place with more of a thanksgiving theme. These included collective prayer gatherings in mosques and special occasions serving public relations objectives on TV and in the newspapers.

SCTV sponsored a writing contest, offering an award of Rp 500,000 to each of the five winners, with the subject: What is, in your opinion, the greatest problem faced by the country?.

Then a biting caricature appeared in The Jakarta Post of Aug. 15, picturing a birthday cake to mark the celebration of the 58th anniversary of the Independence Day. Lamentably, a despicable scene shows up on the picture: Big rats are eating away large chunks of the cake, while the number 8 in the 58-candle display carries the image of a time bomb. Needless to say that the somber message of the caricature is crystal clear.

Obviously, the editorial of the Post of Aug. 15, under the caption Our 58th Independence Day, also carried a poignant warning to the political elite so as to "refrain from making insensible moves in the year ahead pending the start of national elections".

A conspicuous question reads: What's your sense of patriotism of Independence Day? In a country corroded by a string of multi- dimensional problems, does a sense of patriotism still have relevance? It is encouraging to discover that the comments of the respondents revealed that the sense of patriotism is not yet extinct (the Post, Aug. 17).

Suddenly, as if awakened from a leisurely slumber, neglectful of the irksome realities of mundane life, it was so shocking to watch an entirely different scene: A program on medical care under the title Gesundheit (a German term for Good Health) on Metro TV on the morning of Aug. 20. Incredibly, cardiological surgery can now be performed immaculately by robots directed from another place at long distance.

Watching the show of the ongoing meticulous process of heart surgery by the robots, instantly one becomes aware of the fabulously marvelous jobs performed by the surgeons and the medical world. Such a show of accomplishment is shocking for the observer watching such spectacular images of advanced technological modernity, while it feels like we are living in a country that exists at a backward stage, separated by a gap of many generations.

S. SUHAEDI, Jakarta