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MANAGING THE DIFFERENCES FOR THE SAKE OF HUMANISM1

Muhammad Irsyadul Ibad, Sy2

People of the state are always silence. People of the state are always silence.

But they have still remember and have never forgotten.

People like a giant dragon. His bigh body coils in silence,

but five senses and intuition of him are strong.

Don’t hurt them, even hurt them time and again.

They will get-up and destroy.

Jakob Sumardjo3

While I write this paper, Indonesian mass-media is busy to break news on an execution of three Bali bombers (10-12-2002). Finally, they are executed on 2 PM (11-9-2008). This current news had been evocative the humiliated tragedy which killed 202 people and gashed 200 people in six years ago. This is the humiliated tragedy in Indonesia and has been still living within memory of the society. This tragedy is not only indicator of spreading radicalism in pluralized-Indonesian society, but it’s a major threat to pluralism and tolerance in Indonesia as well. The Bali’s bombing had brought us into question about the seriousness of Indonesian to live together in diversities. It becomes an admonition the other countries to break the same terrors and avoid it.

Bali’s bombing has also reminded me some tragedies in Indonesia such as Borobudur’s bombing in the end of decade 1980s, battle between Moslems and Christians in Moluccas and Poso, Ketapang’s riot, etc. The tragedies were being caused a dead loss to the humanity, either material or soul. Ironically, causal factor of these tragedies is same, standing guard over the faith. I have reminded the riot in 1998 conterminous to the fall of despotism Soeharto’s regime and the riot between Dayak and Maduranese in the 2000s. Those riots are the peak social injustice kept by the state and disability to manage the diversity and the plurality among the society.

The conflict is recognized as natural in human being. According to Diana Francis, conflict is defined as a sign of life which exists since people and their life are, fortunately, not identical, isolated or static, conflict between them is inevitable4. Despite of Diana refuses to assume that the conflict related to violence, grief and death. The conflict is not always related to the violence and the war. But, this assumption had been rooted in our culture. The cultural pattern had positioned people competitively and dominantly, not cooperatively. The relation supports the human being to struggle and fight to be a winner in order to bear down any diversity of thoughts, interests, and paradigms. Those are roots of the violence: a feeling of domination, ambition to be winner, and a failure of human being to cooperate each other.

As a natural pattern, the conflict has risen from the diversity of one of human’s dimensions in their interpersonal relation. Disability of managing diversity it self is a root of conflict. But, the diversity is not the only causal factors of conflict. If we can manage the diversity well, we will build dynamic social system, since the human being essentially needs diversity to survive. The diversity is natural. In small scale, every body has individual differences which can’t be equalized to the others. Although every body has some similarities in many human dimensions, but certainly, he/she still has differences in many another of dimensions.

Based on assumption that the conflict rooted from the unmanaged-diversity into cooperative relation, this paper would like to share that the conflict is caused by many factors, not single factor. We need more than one approach to analysis the causal factors of conflict, like historical approach, economic, political, and socio-religion one that means all aspects of human being may cause the conflict. In resolution level, those aspects must be analyzed in order to solve the latent conflict in the society and to find the basic causalities.

In Indonesia context, for example, many conflicts are not caused the single factor, such as the riot in May 1998. The ethnic riot victimized Chinese is not only caused injustice economic, but also the discriminated-governmental policy to Chinese. The New Order regime5 has educated people to discriminate this ethnic. It’s a bad civic education and political one. The economic issue is major factors of the riot and violence, indeed an economic jealousy between indigene Indonesians and Chinese. Even the new order regime plays great roles to educate and keep the indigene Indonesian abhorrence to Chinese. The failure of political education has reproduced the abhorrence that which I called politic of memorization. That is a power activity in order to keep a special image against the certain group of society for sake of keeping the power. The politic of memorization had operated not only through education and imaging, but had operated in all sectors, such as state administration. The Chinese wasn’t permitted to use Chinese names in new order era. They were being signed by a special sign in their residence identification card in order to differ them to another people. Besides that, the new order government didn’t permitted the Chinese to celebrate any Chinese celebrations, such as Imlek, Peh-Cun, etc. the Chinese got their freedom to express their culture and religion when Kiyai Haji Abdurrohman Wahid, well-known Gus Dur became the 4th president.

The discrimination by state, indirectly, is education to all people in order to discriminate other groups of people in society. It means the state has been responsible in keeping intolerance and any negative attitudes of society. The Chinese riot in may 1998 is an accumulative situation of the abhorrence which has been kept by the state. In fact this is incompatible to the tolerance issues issued by new order regime. The intolerance between among groups in Indonesia has been related to development politic of new order regime that ignored the society of beyond Javanese island in economic, politic, education, and information, aspect. The high prosperity imbalance has also encouraged the conflict in the society. The education imbalance and information one played important role in disintegration among all groups in the society.

Indonesia6, as the pluralistic nation, has to be active to effort political and civic education for going a certain direction for sake of tolerance among any groups in its nation. The state must be in neutral position among citizen. The neutrality is in order to enforce a justice law that assures the right equality of citizen without discrimination. The neutrality to produce any laws is a key of justice for citizen. If the law products are incompatible to the justice and tolerance, citizen must criticize it. Law enforcement is a requirement of democracy enforcement in the state. The important one is the state must keep citizen rights without discrimination.

Socially, the tolerance may be destroyed by many interests, like economic interests, political power, religious power, military interests, group egoism, and individual interests, etc. The causal factors of the conflicts are not only internal factors among conflicted-groups, but external factors, from many groups that interfered in the conflicts in order to achieve their interests. The question is how to solve this problem?

Theoretically, humanity arguments must answer this question. It means any diversities aren’t assault the universal human values of humanity. The universal human values must control over nay pragmatism interests. Those values control over another values. If the human being realizes to keep the human values, he will realize that his life must interact with much diversity.

The human values are limit whether people might to do and avoid some deeds in interacting with the others. The values include moral and ethical values in interrelations among human being. It’s not easy to actualize the human values in the society. In this case, all people are responsible, like government, religious leaders, intellects, youths, teachers, etc. All of them must active to actualize the human values into the society. For example, teachers may actualize them through education; the government through making many policies, the religious leaders has to spread those values into interfaith society. We need many practical approaches to success it.

Preventing is better than curing. In this case, keeping a harmonized society is better than solving the conflict happened. There are two approaches to keep the harmonization, dialogue and cooperation. The dialogue is an effort to build a conceptual understanding. And cooperation is a practical effort in order to cooperate the diversities into symbiotic relation. The dialogue and the cooperation are interrelated.

There are two commitments must available to harmonize among groups in the society: tolerance and pluralism. The tolerance is important as a moral instrument to avoid the clash and the conflict among different groups in the society. The tolerance is the best methods to manage diversities in social life of the human being. Building understanding and dialogue without the tolerance is impossible. And building the tolerance must be supported by pluralistic consciousness7. The pluralism is not only the consciousness on diversities, but it’s an active effort to actualize into diversities. Simple example, if we work in the office among people with different religions, we have to make harmonized interrelation in the office. Every body must interact positively into the diversities. It means the pluralism is not only consciousness to the diversities, but the efforts to understanding the diversities and equalities for sake of harmony and tolerance.

Pluralism and tolerance are main basic to build the positive dialogue and symbiotic cooperation in the pluralistic society. Both of them must be placed into neutral position. So that, the efforts for sake of prevent the conflict and keeping the peace must be begun through actualizing those values into daily life of the society. Religious institution, education, government, and all element of society must support the efforts.

Closing remark

The peace problems and social harmony are not only responsible of certain group of society. All elements must active to keep peace as essence human values. So that for any efforts for keeping peace in the society is a necessity and must be supported. People must live with their own power to keep peace, harmony and tolerance.

Wasalam

Yogyakarta, 12 November 2008

1 This essay is written for Asia Arab World Youth for Peace Workshop : Engaging Asian and Middle East Youth in Interfaith Discourse for Peace, Cooperation and Development”. Jordan, November 21-26, 2008.

2 Executive director of Cemara Institute for Education and Culture Yogyakarta. Indonesia.

3 Jakob Sumardjo, Peradilan Rakyat, dalam Tim Maula (Ed.), Jika Rakyat Berkuasa, Upaya Membangun Masyarakat Madani Dalam Kultur Feodal (Bandung: Pustaka Hidayah), 1999, Page 35

4 Diana Francis, People, Peace and Power: Conflict Transformation In Action. (London: Pluto Press), 2002, page 3

5The word Orde Baru (New Era) refers to political era of Soeharto’s regime and political power along 32 years (1966-1998). This regime managed by military power and legalized political organization called Golongan Karya. Golongan Karya actually wasn’t a political party like two other political parties but government gave special power to this organization to engage in general election.

6 Indonesia comprised of more than 567 specific ethnics with various cultural heritage. The state recognizes only five legalized religion (Islam, Catholic, Christian, Buddha and Hindu). Despite of these five religions Indonesian People have various indigenous faith and religions. Muslims (Islamic adherent) are the majority. The unrecognized religions also grow in Indonesia with great number adherent, such as Kong Hu Chu and Shinto.

7 Dr. Alwi Shihab, Islam Inklusif, menuju sikap terbuka dalam beragama. (Bandung: Mizan)1998. page 41

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