A man wearing t'shirt Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, which means united in diversity (JG Photo/Telly Nathalia)
Pluralism Needed to Preserve Indonesian Identity
JUNE 03, 2018
Yogyakarta. Amid rising intolerance and sectarianism, there is an urgent need for embracing pluralist narratives to preserve Indonesia's unique identity based on ethnic and religious diversity, a prominent academic said on Friday (01/06).
"We are an extremely diverse country, in terms of ethnicity, culture, religion and language, so we must not try to win over one another, this Earth belongs to all of us, it home to all of us. We must look after and preserve it together," Sumanto Al Qurtuby said during an event at the Faculty of Theology of Sanata Dharma University in Yogyakarta.
Sumanto is an Indonesian professor of cultural anthropology, who teaches at the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and is a former research fellow of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, United States.
He said divisions in society are not new to Indonesia, especially along the lines of religion.
"If we read about the developments of religion in our country, we will see feuds among different groups. This has been happening for a long time," Sumanto told the audience.
The use of social media to spread intolerance is a challenge faced by many countries, Sumanto said. There are several types of groups that oppose diversity, and there are also many that promote it to different degrees.
Sumanto said that every individual has the capacity to change and affiliate with any group, as it solely depends on his or her personality. Therefore, conservatism as such is not a problem, because it is part of a normal human process.
Not religious views are important, but efforts to keep the country united.
"Whatever our ethnicity or religion, it is our shared responsibility to look after and preserve Indonesia," Sumanto said.
The event, "Loving Diversity," was organized by Sanata Dharma University and Chattra Kebaya, a community group focused on promoting Indonesian culture and traditional fashion.