We often hear people preaching for cultures of the East to be preserved and practiced in our daily life. These preachers often say that the values of the East are far better than those of the West.
Many argue that Western culture is corrupted with indecency, pornography or too much permissiveness. One Indonesian-language blog puts it this way: “We all know that all things porn are dangerous. Any cultural transition that is heading toward a trend that is corrupted with pornography can never be allowed to happen. The government and all elements of the society must be aware of this danger.”
The blogger goes on to say, “We are all obliged to make sure that ‘today’s trend’ is filled with the virtuous values of Eastern culture. Decency, wisdom, dignity and social consideration are the only ‘trend’ that must prevail.”
But what really is Eastern culture and its values? More significantly, let’s talk about Indonesian culture and the norms that apply in this country.
When we talk about Eastern culture or the common principles that apply in Indonesia, we are really talking about decency norms or how young people today are wearing clothes that are too revealing, as the blogger mentioned. But let’s take a look at some practices that are too common in this country, like corruption or violence. Is it safe to say that these, too, are so commonly practiced that they have become a part of our culture, part of our norms?
“Definitely. Just look at what happens in schools, there are a lot of students who cheat. It all starts from there. Not to mention in government institutions, where corruption is rampant,” said Hiasinta Galistheda, who recently graduated from Kolese Gonzaga high school.
She also said she often heard news of violence breaking out in various parts of the country.
“It is just too easy for people to be stirred up and engage in violence. When people protest, but no one listens to them, in the end there is likely to be violence,” she added.
Natasha Fibrianty, a student from Al-Azhar Kelapa Gading Islamic High School, said she would like to think that corruption was not a part of our culture, although there was no denying that it is very widely practiced.
“But really, it all comes back to the individuals. [The corruptors] just cannot stop themselves because the system itself is already corrupt; their bosses may have been practicing corruption regularly and so have the bosses before them,” the 11th grader told youthspeak.
A study shows that corruption has been practiced since the days the Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms ruled the country. The practice thrived during the colonial era and even more so under the New Order. Our president has repeatedly vowed to eradicate corruption, but as hard facts show, he still has a long way to go.
Natasha says Western culture has something that Indonesia needs to copy: law enforcement.
“Indonesia still lacks law enforcement. Someone who engages in corruption on a large scale may only get two months in jail while another who steals mangos out of starvation may get more,” she said.
Arghea Desafti Hapsari