Ambassador Dino Pati Djalal’s initiative to hold a Congress of the Indonesian diaspora in Los Angeles, US, this July reminds me of what Bung Karno, our first president, said decades ago: “Ours is not a narrow nationalism.” This meant that Indonesia’s was not a fascist type of nationalism, but was a nationalism in the greater framework of internationalism and humanism.
I perceive Dino’s initiative as a firm step to realizing Bung Karno’s vision. History is a continuum. Books may separate one government from the other, label one as an “order” and the other as a “regime” – history, however, cannot be separated that way. History is continuity.
Bung Karno’s vision was not based on any particular political party agenda. His vision transcended the often-conflicting interests of political parties. He was a statesman and his vision was the vision of Indonesia and the world to come.
Dino is fulfilling that very vision of the late statesman. He is reaching out to Indonesians who are not only working and living abroad, but who may also have obtained foreign citizenship.
I am reminded of an old Bollywood song, “My shoes are made in Japan; my trousers are English; and my red hat is Russian; yet, my heart is all Indian.” Similarly, the Indonesian Diaspora Congress is a clear message to all our brothers and sisters living abroad that wherever they are, whatever be their citizenship, they are still Indonesians in spirit.
The congress from July 6 to 8 has a long list of topics to discuss, but much more than that I see it as a convention to bring together us, Indonesians, separated by seas and political boundaries.
This, then, I perceive as the realization of Sukarno’s nationalism in the larger framework of internationalism.
As I write these lines, the nation celebrates.
With the birth of Pancasila on June 1, 1945, in a historic speech that shall be remembered by generations to come, Sukarno introduced the five guiding principles of our national ideology — Pancasila. As he conceived it then, the sila of humanity was the very first principle. So above all, humanity.
The second principle was that of togetherness and national unity. The Indonesian Diaspora Congress, as I see it, is an attempt to stretch the meaning of this principle. The congress attempts to reinterpret it in the context of our modern world, with all its complexities. This is commendable.
So, you can be a citizen of any country and yet you can retain your identity as an Indonesian national. This is the true spirit of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, appearing as many, but being essentially one.
It is not lip service to unity, but is unity based upon a realization that we all are essentially one. We all are Indonesians, and a step further, we all are human beings and are the residents of the Earth.
The third principle is “democracy” that is not based upon majority-minority dichotomy, but upon the spirit of one for all, all for one, and above all “all for all”.
So, as the Dalai Lama often advises us, as we strive for happiness, we should also bear in mind that all other beings are equally striving for happiness. We cannot think of our own happiness alone. Think about others.
Indeed, we have our own brand and understanding of democracy that is uniquely Indonesian — dialogue-based democracy — dialogue that leads to a unanimous decision. We did not have to learn the win-win theory from modern day motivators. We have it in our blood.
The fourth principle is general well-being and social justice. Our ancients always prayed for all to be happy. Our ancestors never prayed for their own well being alone.
It is only then, having worked on those four principles of humanity, unity, democracy and social well being, that we can come to the principle of religiosity, the spirit of all religions.
So, O Lord God, help us. Help us realize these principles of life; help us live these principles.
The congress is timely, considering that our youth both at home and overseas are now in a much, much better position, not only to understand but also to appreciate our age-old values, the universal spiritual values, which are now being accepted by peoples of all faiths and all religions.
It is a gigantic task that Dino has taken up and yet, it is a long overdue one.
During my recent overseas travels, I had the chance of meeting some of our students studying abroad. Many of them, to my surprise, were already asking the question: “Tell us Pak. What is there for us in Indonesia?”
I hope and pray that this congress can answer this and many other similar questions. It is not enough to respond that we are the largest economy in Southeast Asia. It is not enough that we are nostalgic about our history.
It is also not recommended, at least not so in my humble opinion, that we lure our youth to come back by providing them with extra facilities.
Any material motivation, no matter how promising and lucrative, shall sooner or later wear off. It is urgent and imperative that we challenge our youth, we challenge their spirit: “Here is a house for you. OK, it is leaking here and there.
“OK, the flooring is old, and the drapes must be changed. OK, it needs some repainting, but this is your house.
“This is our house. Let us renovate this together. Let us refurnish and refurbish ourselves.”
I wish all the best to all those who shall participate in the congress.
The writer is a spiritualist and the author of more than 150 books.