Welcome back to Dessert for Thoughts, enjoy the meal.
Maybe our history book is extremely, wickedly biased.
*I refer the audience as Indonesians
If you’re an Indonesian or have gone to school in Indonesia – be it middle school, junior high, or senior high school – you must’ve known the history about East Timor’s Separatism from Indonesia.
Now let me tell you a brutal fact that I think most of Indonesians don’t already know: it’s not true. Or maybe it is, but then Japan or Dutch is also legitimate to say that Indonesia made a separatist movement from their country back then.
The fact is, in 1976, nine days after East Timor declared its independence, Indonesia began to invade and annex East Timor. Wait, how could you be so surprised? Oh, yes, because it’s never written in any of Indonesian history books that we learned from all the time we were studying in school.
Of all the historical dates and places, patriot names, Dutch and Japan’s colonialism story we’ve memorised in History course, never once mentioned that Indonesia was our Japan to another country. Our Dutch to another region. Maybe the history we’ve learned about is not as objective as we think it was. Maybe our history book is extremely, wickedly biased.
Again, if you’re an Indonesian, you know that many of Indonesian young women were raped by Japanese soldiers at the time of their colonialism. I once watched a video where those raped Indonesian women – now grandmothers – shared their heartbreaking story about how unfair their lives were. In the news I also read that Japanese government has made an official apology to all Indonesian women who had suffered because of the Japanese rapists during colonialism.
I was mad and feel deep-deeply sorry for those women whose lives have been miserable.
Back then, little did I know that Indonesia was once a Japan to another country, too. A few days ago I read another heart-touching, at the same time heartbreaking story: The girl who was ‘stolen’ by a soldier, a story of an East Timor girl who just reunited with her family after being taken away forcefully for decades by an Indonesian army during the time Indonesia invaded East Timor.
Today when I was looking for that article I found another story: Return to East Timor: ‘I’ve been brought from the dead’, about another kidnapped kid – now a grown man – who finds out that he has a grave build for him in his hometown because they had no idea about his whereabouts since he has been taken away.
Amazing how I had zero idea about how atrocious and ruthless Indonesia was to an innocent country, for all these times.
It got me into thinking: what if Japan and Netherlands have the same idea of us towards East Timor? What if in their history book, they perceive Indonesia and all the historical figures – whose name is popular nationwide because of how they fought for Indonesia’s independence – as separatists?
Maybe being separatist and being colonised then declaring independence is just a matter of perspective.
My whole teenage life, if I’ve learned any important life lessons, it’s this:
Our knowing of the existence of perspectives, is the key to solve every single conflict in this complicated, tangled world.
Two years ago I joined a self-development seminar where the speaker gave a great illustration of perspective that I remember until today.
Speaker: Imagine you’re in a car with a friend, and a beggar comes to your friend’s window, asking for money. Your friend then gives an amount of money and says to you, “I feel that I never really lived until I’m able to help others.” Do you think he’s wrong?
Audience: *in unison* Nooo
S: Then another day, you’re in a car with another friend. Same story, a beggar comes asking for money. Your friend shakes his head, saying no to the beggar. The beggar leaves, and your friend says, “I don’t want to give them money because it keeps them on the street. They need to stop being lazy and find real jobs.” Now do you think he’s wrong?
A: *in unison* Nooo
S: Your two friends have two different, total opposite notions, but you said none of them is wrong. Now, everyone has his/her own values in life. Just because someone has a total opposite value with yours, doesn’t mean he/she is wrong.
So, besides the new knowledge of Indonesia once being a colonialist, I hope you learn that it matters so much to see things not just from one side, but to see from all the freaking six sides of the box to fully understand.
Every side has a story. Everyone has different values. Try to understand and respect every side and every value. That being said, the world will become a better place to live.
Spread the words!
See you in the next Dessert for Thoughts.