Welcome to the Goethe-Institut CityScapes Blog.
From January through December 2011, these were the parameters for a playground of diverse, fascinating, vibrant tales: Responding individually to a collective impetus, a host of hand-picked young bloggers uploaded photos, texts, and multimedia. Every month, they were given a new theme. Step by step, they created a kaleidoscope of impressions, opinions, ideas and… plain fun.
This project has now ended. If you like what you see, you may want to check out the brand new CityTales Comic Blog.
Indonesia's national motto "Unity in Diversity" is nowhere more prominent than in its capital city Jakarta.
Here, Indonesians from all over the country and with different ethnic backgrounds, live together side by side, many of them hoping that they will be able to lead a better and more fortunate life in the city than in the provinces.
But lately, it seems, that the virtue of tolerance among Indonesians is declining.
News about religious tensions have shaken the country repeatedly, and even though Indonesia is on the rise, compared to other developing nations, becoming more powerful both economically and diplomatically, the problems that dwell inside should not be overlooked.
For a country that holds up the national ideology of Pancasila, which allows and supports a mix of various ethnic groups and religious beliefs, the rising tensions are an alarming development. What can and should be done?
I think it needs to be clear that this country consists of Indonesians. If the people living here regard themselves as Indonesians first, it will put a stronger emphasis on the fact that the Indonesian nation is built upon diversity.
Of course I am not suggesting that they should forget about their cultural and ethnic backgrounds, because it is exactly this fact, the many different cultures and traditions throughout the whole country that make Indonesia as colorful as it is.
But nobody should have the right to tell someone else what he is allowed to believe, no intolerant groups should be able to act as the morality police as if they would stand above the law.
For years and years, Indonesia has had a reputation of being tolerant, liberal and moderate.
If the government doesn't start to apply the rules and laws that already exist, I really fear that the "Unity in Diversity" motto will slowly turn into an "Us versus Them." And this will have consequences on an international level as well.
If Indonesia values its reputation, it's time to make the people understand that, no matter what faith they follow or ethnic group they belong to, they are all Indonesian, and they should think of themselves as a unity, as a collective "us."