Posts Tagged ‘Sigmund Freud’

Di batu nisan kubur Gus Dur: “Di sinilah dikubur seorang pluralis”. Renewing our spirit of pluralism

Januari 7, 2010

Untuk mengenang Gus Dur, perkenankan kami post artikel dari Jakarta Post ini. Penulisnya telah mengizinkan kami muat di sini untuk merefleksikan perjuangan pantang mundur Gus Dur menegakkan pluralisme bagi kejayaan tanah air.

Renewing our spirit of tolerance, pluralism

Gabriel Faimau ,  Bristol   |  Mon, 01/04/2010 9:20 AM  |  Opinion

Amid the political bubbles concerning the Bank Century scandal, we are once again disturbed by the news of the recent destruction of a church that was still under construction in Harapan Indah residential complex, Bekasi, West Java (The Jakarta Post, Dec. 19, 2009). Indeed, this event again and again puts our national sense and spirit of tolerance into question.

Our country has long been recognized internationally as a country with an “outstanding” performance when it comes to respecting cultural and religious differences. An international seminar held in Rome, Italy, last March 2009, for example, elevated Indonesia as a model of international tolerance.

Opening this seminar, Franco Frattini, the Italian foreign minister mentioned Indonesia as an important actor in world peace (Paulinus Yan Olla, Kompas March 27, 2009). So, with the recent event of the attack on this church, we should again ask ourselves: are we really still a nation that respects our multicultural and multi-religious pride?

Destroying a place of worship often occurs when a society loses its capacity and ability to live together differently.

This loss becomes even worse when small differences become a thorn in the flesh. Sigmund Freud interestingly invented the phrase “narcissism of the small difference” to explain this problem. What Freud meant is that too often people see difference as an absolute and a continual threat to one’s identity even though it may be just a slight difference.

According to Adam Selligman (2008), when a society is challenged with the notion of the “small difference”, we often develop two common moves.

Firstly, the small difference is exacerbated by pushing away a group beyond our sense of shared humanity. Members of this group are seen as objectionable strangers or outsiders. In this context, tolerance is ruled out simply because it does not have a place.

Secondly, the need for tolerance is avoided by directing the small difference in a different direction.

Here the importance of differences is reduced or even neglected by only appealing to some basic shared characteristics. The problem with this approach is that tolerance is not needed because we appear to run away from our differences.

Bukan berebut dan saling menarik turun dalam lomba panjat pinang, tetapi bekerja sama bahu membahu untuk memekarkan Indonesia yang pluralis. (Para siswa Seminari Menengah Pematang Siantar pada HUT Proklamasi 2009)

If we want our pluralist society to work, tolerance should be appreciated as a virtue that must be cultivated as the basis for our Indonesian spirit guided by a principle of equally sharing our Indonesian civil space.

Recognizing our differences and strengthening our shared humanity requires renewal every now and then.

Events that involve the destruction of places of worship have often occurred in our country, particularly in the past two decades. Analysts often view this problem through the frame of majority-minority relationships. Such a frame makes sense. However, Indonesians are brought up on the belief of a nation of many faces with one heart. But there is still the question of how we define the notion of majority-minority relationships when we have a shared-responsibility for taking care of our Indonesian spirit.

I think the main problem we often face is the ideological contests through which one or a group may consider another group as an embodiment of an ideology or an embodiment of a religious belief that is not his/hers. Within a political space, too often such contests become more problematic when they are based on the premise that “faith is so important and therefore everybody should follow the faith that I or my group believe in”.

This way of thinking does not only deny the basic rights of human freedom. It does deny humanity as a whole. A better way of living in a multicultural society will only be accessed by every citizen if there is a will to embrace a new perspective based on the proposition that “faith is so important that everyone should respectfully be allowed to live according to a faith that is true to him/her” (Sacks 2002).

Indeed, our diversity is something to be cherished. But che-rishing our diversity is not enough. Unless we respect and protect the rights of every citizen and every cultural and religious group under the rule of law, our diversity will only be romanticized as a tourist attraction, while in the political sphere it may become ‘an everlasting sensitive issue’ and on the practical level, diversity may turn out to be something we are scared to talk about.

This means that if we lose our willingness to guard diversity as our nation’s pride and if we fail to allow space for virtuous tolerance, it is very possible the idea of Bhineka Tunggal Ika (unity in diversity) will easily become an empty slogan memorized in schools or written in the textbooks. A renewal of our sense and spirit for tolerance is therefore urgently needed.

The writer is a PhD candidate at the Department of Sociology, University of Bristol and is the co-editor of the Journal of NTT Studies.


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