Thursday, July 24, 2014

Indonesia: From Hoping To Hopping In A Change

In the classic movie Shawsank Redemption, Andy Dufresne wrote a letter to his friend Red. At the end of the letter, he wrote Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. I will be hoping that this letter finds you, and finds you well. Your friend. Andy.

I couldn't agree more with Andy. Hope is a good thing. It keeps us alive during our tough times or even in the most dangerous situations.We've seen examples from the survivors of those big natural disasters. Those facing a life and death situation, yet somehow unleashed those many great qualities they thought they never had: creativity,decision making & execution, risk taking, bravery, perseverance, and some other qualities which I'm sure I forgot to mention or simply just didn't know existed.

More than that, even when our life is not threatened, hope makes us want to be (more) alive. From one breath to the next, we hope something good will come, or at least something better.

1.   Why is it when the situation is less threatening, we tend to show less of those great qualities we actually possess? Instead of hope, could it be fear which unleashes those great qualities? Or is it both?
2.   What is it that makes us take that extra step from (just) hoping, to actually take action and do something to make things happen? Even more, what will make us keep trying when we're stuck?

At first, I see hope as just another side of the coin. One side we have hope, and on the other we have fear. So what's the currency we're playing here?

If we take a look on the definition of both words, we'll easily find the silver-lining. defines hope as "the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best", and fear as "a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined".

The currency? Uncertainty. It's a simple risk management theory. And we, humans, tend to play it safe, until we're so desperate, or have nowhere else to go.

We never fear of what we know to be certain. Subjects like physics and math are not scary. We know 2+2 = 4 and 7x3 = 21. There's no fear that one day those would change. However, to study physics or math, that can be scary for some people, because we don't know for certain if we'll be able to master them or not.

So again, why is it when the situation is less threatening,we tend to show less of those great qualities we actually possess?

At first I thought it had something to do with exactly that, a less threatening situation. But I haven't been asking the question correctly,and asking the right question is a must half to finding the answer.

It's never been about fear or that threatening feeling. I realized that the question should actually be:
Why is it when we're not so hopeful, we tend to show less of those great qualities we actually possess?

When I look again on the definition of hope, it's all about that feeling, that wanting feeling. It is the strength of that feeling that will bridge someone from (just) hoping, to actually take action and do something to make things happen.

When you want something so bad to happen, it won’t matter how scared you are. When what you're hoping for is so strong, you will go that extra miles. Yes, the fear will still be there, but you will also discover your bravery, your perseverance, and all that great qualities you've always have within you. It will make it easier to face. Because when you know what you're fighting for, it will make sense to face that fear, and take action.

To make it into a formula:
↑Hope + ↑Fear = You will take action.
↑Hope + ↓Fear = You will take action.
↓Hope + ↑Fear = You will not take action.
↓Hope + ↓Fear = You will (tend to) not take action.

The high & low combinations are a pretty clear cut. But what about the high & high and low & low?

When hope and fear are both low, you will most likely not take any action. Every individual has an ego. We live with a subconscious whats in it for me? motto that we carry every day. For example, even if I’m confident that I can be a great doctor, I still wouldn’t want to spend my time studying biology, medicine, or any other subjects that would help someone to be great doctor. And the reason can be very simple, I don’t have a strong feeling or desire to be a doctor.

On the other hand, many women know that being pregnant and giving birth can be dangerous. That fear of death is not imaginary, it's real and have happened already to other women in the process, no matter how small you want to say the percentage is. However, there's a strong hope, a strong feeling of wanting something good, something beautiful that comes from having a child.It generates those amazing qualities they actually possess within them. That sense of selflessness, which we underratedly called motherhood.

The same thing with my very first example of survivors of those natural disasters. It was not the fear of death that helped them to escape. The fear was there, yes, and they're real I'm sure of that. But it was that hope, that strong feeling of wanting to stay and be alive which ignites that survival instinct, and unleash those many great qualities they thought they never had. It was hope which enables them to fight and endure such difficult situations.

Our chapters of Indonesia Raya

Now, to my country, my beloved and beautiful Indonesia.We've just finished what I personally would say as an amazing phenomenon. This chapter in Indonesia Raya we've just completed was what many would say, a plot twist. An unexpected turn of event which might change the direction of a story.Our story.

I called it a phenomenon because the nature of what happened these past few months are extraordinary. The word extraordinary is in itself contains a comparative meaning. It cannot be used to describe a situation unless you have something to compare it with. You need to have the ordinaries to have an extraordinary. And the ordinaries in this case are the previous chapters of our Indonesia Raya.

In the early chapters of our story, we've seen (or read)what our predecessors did. During the long fight for independence, they showed those great qualities mentioned earlier: courage, creativity, perseverance,decision making & execution, risk taking, selflessness, and the list goes on. Were they afraid? I'm sure they were. Of course, they're humans!

Again, the fear was real, yes. But it was not that fear of dying (or anything) that made them heroes. In fact, if that's the case, they could've easily chose to just sit and hope that one day things will change. Yet they chose to do something.

It's that strong wanting feeling again. That hope for a better Indonesia. And that hope was real and strong, and it became the bridge for them from just hoping for a change, to hopping in and make the change themselves, no matter how scary the situation they had to face.

Then, the first couple of chapters after our independence was pretty much the same. Though the fear they felt may not be as intense as the time during the war for independence, the hope for a better future was still as high. Remember the formula, when hope is high, you will take action.And they did.

Generation '45, whom many of them were young people, were able to transfer their vision of Indonesia to the rest of the country. And once the people were able to see what their leaders envision, it was more than enough to make people work hand in hand, with patience and perseverance. At that time, those situations are the ordinaries.

However, somewhere along our story, that hope started to fade away. And because it happened slowly and gradually, everything looked just normal. The impact was actually extraordinary, but its slow and gradual process made it seemed....ordinary.

Throughout this process, the fear or risks that our people had to face went up and down. But what’s consistent was the degradation of people’s hope, year after year. And by degradation, I mean they can no longer personally relate to that hopeful future. And when you can't personally relate to something, it will never be enough to make you move and take action. Again, when hope is low, no matter how low the risk/fear is, you will tend to not take any action.

As a result, one by one those who were hopping in the change process, started to hop out. Within a few decades, we degraded our status from those hopping in the change process, to simply just hoping for a change to happen. We, a nation of active change participants, became a passive viewers who did almost nothing but just wait and see.

The bad news is, we had to wait for too long. The good news, today, we wait no longer.

The story ahead of us

Throughout our history, that fear or risk of the uncertainty lingers on, and it will always be there. But what happened in Indonesia these past few months was a true testimony of the impact of our hope being restored. We have now witnessed what we're actually capable of doing.Even though we live in a different era and situation, we started to see again those great qualities we've always possess within us.

Were we facing the same fear as our predecessors did? Not really.

But we started to personally relate again with what our leaders envision for this country. It's a vision of Indonesia Raya we all wanted so bad to see and live in. That strong feeling has returned, that fire that's been long gone. And when hope is and me, all of us, will take action.

Today we re-upgraded ourselves. We're no longer just hoping for the change, but we started to hop back in to make change happen. All of this happened in just a few months, which makes it extraordinary.

Yes, a new and refreshing chapter was completed. But every ending is a new beginning, and our true challenges are in the chapters ahead of us.

Personally, these past few months were enough for me to believe that we are a generation who are capable of not just hoping for a change, but also hopping in the change process itself. We have showed those great qualities we have within us.

Our next chapters are still beautifully unwritten, but not for long. Indonesia Raya is calling.

Don’t return to be a passive reader. Be an active writer and contributor. This is our story.

Ali Zaenal Abidin