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People from all walks of life, rich and poor, native-born Jakartans and migrants to the capital, give their viewpoints on what it means to be a hero, in the past and present definitions.
Yanti Triwadiantini, executive director of Indonesian Business Link
A hero is someone who consistently strives for the sake of a community, nation or religion, be it the social or physical environment, without hoping for anything in return. They may suffer from the activities but never give up their hope or endeavors. Moreover, they have no vested interest in personal gain, except loyalty to their goals and dreams.
Dharmesti Sindhunatha, associate director, marketing/communications/human resources, Indonesia Cushman & Wakefield
When I was still in school, I had the understanding that heroes were the brave people who physically fought for the human rights or for the independence of their countries.
Nowadays my perception of a hero is not always associated with rebellious actions. A hero could be simply a person who is supporting someone else who needs help, such as a mother who raises her children or a person who donates blood or other organs to others. It could also be a person who “fights” for his community or country in a professional way, whether a champion in sports or in other kind of competitions.
However, there are similar characteristics between heroes in the past and heroes in today’s world: passion, doing their best and those who are willing to sacrifice for others or for a greater goal.
Joko Anwar, director
A hero for me in today’s times is someone who has the desire to commit to concrete actions for the betterment of humanity, without any limitations on who they are, their nationality, religion or ideology. And it’s someone who is brave enough to fight failing governments and society wherever he or she is. But I think the biggest problem living in Indonesia today is we have no one to look up to.
Setiono Nugroho, lecturer at Atma Jaya University
In the past the meaning of the words “hero” or “heroine” was often associated with freedom fighters who were venerated due to their extraordinary courage to defend the country’s sovereignty against imperialism. As the conceptual meaning of these two words is quite prevalent, it seems to me that it bears a literal meaning. While such a conceptual meaning is still germane to many people nowadays, I personally conjure up the references of a hero or heroine in a rather metaphorical sense relative to everyone. For the people longing for justice to be upheld, the Corruption Eradication Commission’s leader Abraham Samad can be deemed a hero due to his extraordinary courage to declare many top corrupt-minded politicians graft suspects and to put them behind bars, a move that was highly unlikely in the previous governments. Likewise, for the marginalized community, the late Abdurrahman Wahid is indeed a hero; Gus Dur basically devoted his life to fighting state suppression of minorities and to defending their basic rights.
Slamet Supriyadi (Adi S.), an official and professional guide
My understanding of heroes is someone who has full dedication and courage to defend truth and justice with full responsibility, struggle and has rendered a service in the interest of the people, nation and state without expecting anything in return in fighting for the independence of the Republic of Indonesia. My understanding about today’s hero is that it is someone with high integrity and competency according to their respective fields, such as education, environment, justice, democracy, human rights, social culture, economics, politics, tourism, etc. without expecting any return. So, any Indonesian deserving the predicate of hero is someone with high integrity and competency (according to their respective areas), who is useful and has rendered service for family, people, nation, country and religion. My heroes are Gen. Sudirman, Prince Diponegoro, Sukarno, Bung Hatta, R.A. Kartini and Dewi Sartika.
Tika Panggabean, entertainer
To me, a hero is someone who is of service in our lives, who helps us in facing difficulties. That means we don’t have to talk all the time about fighting on the battlefield; in our daily lives there are heroes around us. In simple terms, our household help, drivers, gardeners, assistants, crew — without them, my schedule would be really messed up. Or when you’re driving and you get a flat tire, there is someone who helps you out by pushing the car to the side of the road and changing the tire. They are heroes in my definition for being willing to help out in our time of need.
Karta Wijaya, head of public affairs division, Limo Police Precinct, Depok
In my view, a hero is someone who has served the nation and state. In the past, what heroes did was to seize independence from other nations. In the past heroes sacrificed their belongings and life. But heroes in today’s Indonesia are the ones who live up to the meaning of independence as best as they can, in ways that are useful for the nation and state.
Today it is highly different. It’s more toward someone having skills and capabilities which are useful for the state, whether it’s in the field of the arts or the police. If they can take advantage of their skills and fulfill their duties well, then they deserve to be called a hero.
In the Indonesian Military field, if they (military officers) can maintain the territory of the state, then they can be called a hero. Again, it all depends on the respective fields. Who are present-day heroes? If someone merely talks and never takes concrete action, he or she cannot be called a hero. If they want to be called a hero, then don’t expect anything in return. As a policeman, that means fulfilling my duties to serve and protect the public.
Tantowi Yahya, politician
Basically, a hero from the past to the present is the same: Someone who gives up his own interests for the people, nation and state. The difference lies in how we define it. In the past, when Indonesia was striving to gain independence, a hero was someone who took up arms. However, it is no longer relevant. Today’s heroes should be involved in how to realize that definition of independence. So, today’s heroes are people with talents and skills, who abdicate their priorities in life for the dignity and glory of the nation and state.
Suyoto, mobile village vendor
Heroes of the past were those involved in war but they were not necessarily soldiers but they were also laymen, like my father, for independence. My past heroes are Prince Diponegoro, Imam Bonjol, Pattimura, there are many. Well, today’s heroes, aren’t they students? Yes, I think students are also heroes. The Indonesian Military is also heroes. Students are the next generation and so when there is something wrong (with the government), they should participate (in efforts to reform it). For me, Amien Rais is a hero. Who else? Amien Rais seemed to want to eradicate corruption… but he never appears again in the media, especially on TV. Another figure deserving of being called a hero to me is Prabowo, the leader of Gerindra Party. He is a hero because he seems to want to make people prosperous. I think a hero in the future is one who can make Indonesia a prosperous, safe and peaceful country.
Supriadi Rustamadji, motorcycle taxi driver
The past heroes? People who served in the struggle for Indonesia’s independence. For example, Gen. Sudirman, Prince Diponegoro and many others. I learned about them from history lessons in elementary school. Today’s heroes? I think teachers are heroes because they make Indonesian people clever. And I also consider myself a hero, a hero for my children, a family hero. Pak Harto (former president Soeharto), I think, is also a hero because, according to many people, when he was a president, this country was safer.