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An ‘Independent’ vs. a ‘Dominated’ Nation

Jakarta Globe - Opinion, March 7, 2009

Anand Krishna


 

"I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

These “are” the words of Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859), member of the governing council of the East India Company from 1834 to 1838, excerpted from his speech delivered on Feb. 2, 1835. Reading these words almost two centuries later, I realize that Lord Macaulay is not dead. Hence, my use of “are” and not “were.” His ideas are still alive. He still has a large following all over the world.

A very dear friend of mine tells me that indeed the so-called Indian Dominion under the British Rule was born in 1835 with Lord Macaulay playing the role of midwife. Macaulay attacked the very foundations of the age-old Indian civilization, and he was successful.

How many of us in Indonesia realize that the same is happening to us, in this modern age? We are surrounded by not one or two, but a multitude of Macaulays. The only difference being: the famous or infamous Macaulay of old was English, white, and therefore easily distinguishable. Now, the present genre of Macaulays comes in all colors and shades, whites, browns, reds, yellows and even blacks.

And, they are attacking our cultural roots and age-old civilization from all sides. One of them, the wahabbis, which are supported by the Saudi Monarchy, have so deeply infiltrated our society and social system, that we are now confused and unable to distinguish spiritual values of religion from religious radicalism. Some of our ministers, high officials, even military personnel and political parties are being “used” as their agents to attack us from within.

I have a friend in the Middle East, whose cousin is the Mufty, or Chief Ulema of one of the countries there. Commenting on the latest course of events in our country — from the fatwas issued by the Indonesian Council of Ulemas to the increasing radicalism and religious indoctrination given to our children — my dear Arab friend has this to say:

“This is important [for] you [to] understand the hypocrisy of the backward society in which we live. While I have witnessed while living in Indonesia amongst you more of the tolerance, acceptance of the other, the serenity, the appreciation for life and nature, here in the Middle [East] I feel it is the complete opposite pole of your world! That is why I kept repeating how important it is to preserve your culture, nature and values.”

Alas, these very cultural values are now regarded “not in line with religion.” Interestingly and quite unfortunately, people who say so are feared by the present government, in spite of the fact that their institutions are funded by the state with taxpayer money.

Recently, Prince Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan stated in Islamabad: “In the future the great powers of the world will be Asian, so the powers of today would do well to invest in the people of the Middle East to ensure that the new world does not carry with it the problems of the old.”

Arabs like Prince Hassan and my friend quoted above are countable on fingertips. But all of them realize that they are living in a sick society, and we in Indonesia are “importing” their sickness and illness. We welcome all kinds of deadly viruses being exported by them.

In an e-mail to a common friend, an Indonesian Muslim Activist, a name to reckon with, my Arab friend added this to Prince Hassan’s statement: “That is exactly what I was worried about when we talked about this wave of [word omitted] and [word omitted] other stupid imported behaviorism of intolerance and narrow-mindedness! YOU SHOULD DECIDE WHAT KIND OF ISLAM IS SUITABLE FOR YOU. YOU WILL HAVE TO INFLUENCE THE OLD MUSLIM WORLD BY YOUR VALUES AND RICH TRADITION OF TOLERANCE, ACCEPTANCE OF THE OTHER, HUMILITY AND SIMPLICITY.”

The capital letters are not my “improvement.” I quote the e-mail as it was written. I have however deleted two words, which I know would be strongly protested by “our” narrow mindedness, that identifies religion with outer attributes.

Indonesia is fast becoming a culturally “dominated” nation, and our society is breaking because of it. The culture of the Saudis, the ideology of wahabbis and the traditions of Arabia, which are not in line with our own, will dominate a large chunk. And, the domineer shall certainly profit from such domination.

I must repeat once again that Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries are less than 100 years away from exhausting their oil reserves and are now confronted with the possibility of social unrest due to the shortage of food and clean drinking water.

They are already panicking. And, they would leave no stone unturned to ensure that they have domination over countries like ours to ensure their food supply.

I wonder if our officials have the intelligence to understand this point.

I pity one of our high officials who proposed what he termed as “religious tourism” for the people of the Middle East. What tourism? They are already confronted with the issue of their survival.

Meanwhile, as we face a global financial crisis and a hungry mob that is trying to dominate us, we are busy spending on the upcoming elections.

Do we have the money for that? Where is the money coming from? Those who would like to enslave us will gladly lend us the money against some favors.

Perhaps some of our officials do realize this, hence their efforts to increase revenues from taxes and government bonds, even using religious terms to allure our not-so-intelligent masses who are easily swayed by religious sentiments.

Friends, we are living in very dangerous times. Our independence is at stake. I wish, I hope, I pray that our leadership is aware of this and wise enough to deal with the situation.

Anand Krishna is an Indonesian spiritual activist.