Independence Day: Does It Really Matter to Claim?

To me, the only thing that signifies the arrival of The Indepence Day of Indonesia is the flag pole. Nothing more, nothing less. The fact that (almost) everyone gets ecstatic in the activity of clinging their own flag pole before their houseyard still remains unresolved. Is it really the independence they seek by simply putting a red-and-white flag pole as a symbol of patriotism? I believe there something else than that, than immersing the tip of the pole into the ground and immediately referring to how independent we have been considered to become.

The other day, I met one of the natives, which is Sundanese, from my neighborhood. He was seen cutting the edge of some sort of bamboos he habitually reaped from his farm. His name was Pak Endang. By any chance, I greeted him and we had this little oh-so-tempting talk. I asked what he was doing, and he gregariously responds that he was, in Sundanese, “ngarayakeun reriuhan kamardekaan” (celebrating the fanfare of independence). The next day, when strolling to campus, I ran into his seven-year-old boy who seemed surreptitiously desperate. I hesitated to take further steps because his eyes were drowsy and teary at a certain way. I presupposed that he was being locked away, just like other times, by his mom, for his wrongdoings. I intended to ask, but a particular thought flew across my mind: what, indeed, does he think happens as he gets older? As his psychological condition and state of mind change over time, the experience will undoubtedly shape his behaviors and views of actions. Thus, it tuns out ironic that knowing Pak Endang, at one side, celebrates the Independence Day, while, at the other side, he cuckoons his own son to thrive his independence.

The above example shows how unaware (or unconscious?) those kinds of people of how much they have rationalized things that have been going on their lives for a respectable quantity of time, or in this case, the Independence Day. We are inevitably told (by our parents, teachers, friends, the reality) that the nation is freed from the prolonged colonialization of Japan by 1945. They subsume the date of 17th August into a category of the concept of “being independent,” and we assume the belief is worth noting by its propaganda happening each year. The date has somehow become an epitome of the jouissance of the celebration, as we have noticed in Lomba Makan Kerupuk, or Lomba Ambil Belut, or Panjat Pinang which is the main symbol of the “independent” in its mere word: by struggling with accordance of other people, to help each other and make an upward line, until the one on the very top of it seizes valuable stuff on the “pinang’s peak.” We have been offered to see these kinds of things, these kinds of joy and struggle, only to recommemorate the struggle of the late heroes.

From Indonesia, let us move to the Southern America. While Pak Endang’s son is locked away from the house, Siouxian children are otherwise. Erik Erikson, in Children and Society, proclaims that they are coached to have this “neurotic compensation” since they were kids. It is a state of being when a person gets to accept the choices she is offered in her lives without the urge to protest. Moreover, they are schooled to see their world in the scope of how other people see it, so they have double perspectives of themselves. Whoever rebels gets expelled, and even if they try to, then they will be imprisoned. Not only does this happen to the children but also to the parents. Their family heads are in under great control of the government, whose members are dispatched to each district. Compared to the previous example, this one is much fairer. If Pak Endang allows her wife to lock away his own son, then he should probably have been locked away also. But it seems that our government don’t have enough ingenuous people to watch over the family by one one.

That is why, most probably, that Americans, in general, have a much more reasonable confidence as they grow older. In public schools, it is no wonder if an elementary schoolers have read Ernest Hemingway or J.R. Tolkien. Moreover, as the student-centred learning system is applied in most educational institutions, students are encouraged to write a paper and then present it in front of the class. On the other hand, Indonesian elementary-school students nowadays, attempting to apply the very same system, feel too obliged to do so. One of the reasons is because their mental construction is not trained to adjust to the system as they were younger. Instead of Hemingway, they read Raditya Dika. Instead of being psychologically self-trained, their minds are “locked away” that they would have no “confidence” at all. They would whine when, for instance, the teacher asks for assignments, but they do it instead. They have less choice to whine because all in their mindset is material values, not moral ones. This is not, I think, what independent means, they imprison themselves in a territory they even hesitates to label as jail.

Going back to Pak Endang. Being a native, he might have obtained less historical knowledge than anyone else. He knows that 17th August is the Independence Day of Indonesia. But he fails to see that he has imprisoned himself in a jail he is afraid to claim within his self. By now, he might be focusing on sculpturing the bamboo and modify it somehow to make it stand tall against the ground, glorifying the red-and-white piece of cloth in the open air. His son is underground, the mother is the pole body, and Pak Endang is the flag. He soars on the sky and enjoys it over his family’s wit of life survival.

And lthough I hesitated to take further steps, I walked away. I imagined the son’s profile hanging to the house’s door, without crying, sobbing, pretending to look strong, but in fact fell apart deep down inside. I imagined how the mother inside the house idling around the TV room while munching her son’s lunch. I could also imagine how unaware Pak Endang of cutting down those bamboos and vision his son’s visage in one of those bamboos, under the slight of his kujang, (traditional knives from West Java). As I went on to walk along, I contemplated of myself. I could scarcely imagine myself being locked away by my mother only because I did trivial mistakes. Or if I didn’t do my homework. And it is beyond horrible to see how people nowadays could easily cross their hands over illicit money. Or over other people’s works.

Now, here we are. In the face of the Independence Day of Indonesia. I hesitate again, “do I have to proclaim my own independence if elementary schoolers out there are still viably prone to cheat their friends’ work without being overratedly judged?” or “do I really have to shout out loud only to justify the euphoria of the Independence Day just like everyone else, if many children and oldsters at the edges of the archipelago still stammer to spell “Nama Saya Budi?”

I hope I won’t hesitate too much. This thought will water out sooner or later as the 17th August passes by.

Regards.

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