The Folks from Yesterday!October 29, 2008 at 7:03 am | Posted in kebudayaan, ngoceh, sekedar | 29 Comments
Tags: atheists, bigotry, clash of civilization, culture, curhat colongan, tradition
No, I’m not going to talk about our Lord Google’s latest facility. Neither am I going to talk about Abraham’s God and the supposedly atheist paradox [you gotta have an infinite knowledge in order to be sure that God does not exist, which means you have to do an impossible task: becoming God and an atheist at the same time!]. Is God an atheist!!?
Well, like any other story worth telling, it’s about a girl, whom I met two years ago on a boring day in a cold November rain. It was, as I vaguely recalled, the day when Kontras held a press conference to condemn the Supreme Court for exonerating Polycarpus. She was there at the NGO’s office for the press conference, though at the time she had not become a journalist yet. She’s my bestfriend’s bestfriend. We immediately knew each other that day, but neither of us knew that the days we have had after that day would be entirely different. We became a Shakespearean couple. *halah-halah* Yes, we are now lovers separated by the mysterious force that had made us together: providence. She’s a Batak Christian and I’m a Javanese Muslim.
I have known that it is hard to imagine only one “religion” holds the key to heaven, but, born to a Muslim family, I never thought I would be dating a Christian. From her I know that some Batak families do not marry their daughters to the gentiles non-Batak, because they will lose their family names and their offspring will never be considered as Bataknese, though they may have looked like young Nagabonar. “To our parents, it means they’re losing their daughters,” that girl I was talking about told me. Some men, she added, had been “baptized” to be recognized as part of the Batak ethnic group so that they can marry their Batak girlfriends. They are given a Batak family name and they have to pay for it – I mean for the big ceremony, of course.
Her parents were shocked and furious.
“What!? A Muslim!? A Javanese!?”
My parents were anxious.
“Is she going to be a Muslim?”
They are the folks from yesterday. They’ll do whatever they can do to preserve the centuries old traditions and save their daughter from me the hellfire. And I understand why they are like that, though I still find it very silly. I never asked to be born as a Javanese Muslim, and I am sure that nobody has the privilege to ask for anything before they are born into this world, not even Jesus – well, unless you think he’s 100 percent God. We can never evade the inevitable and we can never change what had already happened. But we can change our attitude, we can change our belief, we can change our worldview. But I know that not all people want to change, perhaps because they fear change, or simply hate the thing. I don’t know. I think we should ask Obama bin Laden or Barack Osama about this.
A cultural war is going on between those who decided to change and those who did not. We are no longer divided by the deep, wide oceans and high mountains after the Internet was invented. We are now divided by conflicting worldviews. The folks from yesterday believe that God is watching every breath we take and every move we make — he will punish fornicators, gay couples, porn stars, atheists, agnostics and, of course, a bunch of people believing and worshipping the “wrong” God. They do irrational things in the name of tradition, like drowning a cow for being raped by human being or marrying a 12-year-old Lolita with headscarf. Or, they can forbid a man from marrying their daughter because he was born to a Javanese Muslim family.
The new kids on the block are atheists, agnostics and apatheists [you might already be a member of this group]. They don’t believe in, don’t know and don’t care about God, let alone religions and superstitions. In fact, they are the people who said that science must destroy religion!! They hate the folks from yesterday. They post articles lambasting and mocking the proponents of traditional values in their blogs. They can be very intolerant, perhaps more intolerant than the bigoted conservatives they use to call “intolerant assholes”. But I understand why they are like that. I know that we just cannot let everything go. The problem with these new kids on the block is that they are often unaware of the consequence of discarding traditional values – which is to have no value at all forever, because rejecting the authority of any metaphysical idea [God and traditional wisdom] will cripple their ability to make a new set of values. Killing God inevitably leads to nihilism, and they actually have no reason to complain about the porn bill or to say that the suicide bombers are morally wrong, or marrying a 12-year-old girl is cruel.
I wonder what will happen in the next 100 years. What if the folks from yesterday decided to massacre the new kids on the block, or vice versa? What if one day the new kids on the block decide to leave the planet and give our old, ailing, overheated Earth to the folks from yesterday?
Everything seems so abstruse now. We cannot expect everybody to know what the New Age obscurantists see, or what the postmodern deconstructionists actually say, or what the Habermasian theorists think, or what the Heidegerrian mystics try to argue, or what the cognitive scientists have found. Life is just too short for all those craps and sometimes we just have to make a firm decision without much thinking. You must be decisive in this age of uncertainty. And if I have to choose, I’d rather fly with the new kids on the block to other planet and live happily with my girlfriend. Hopefully, I could return to earth once in a while and meet my parents and perhaps some people from the-folks-from-yesterday group. I actually love tradition and may believe there is a God out there or here next to me. I actually hate the arrogant and intolerant atheists who think they have known the truth about life, but, you know, I just can’t live without my freedom. Ah, please, don’t ask me what freedom is.