Untuk terjemahan bahasa Indonesia, silakan kunjungi Laporan Minoritas.
Disclaimer: This article is not affiliated with the movie “Minority Report”.
(P. S. Best regards to Om Peter and Pumpkin Pocil who have spent their time reading, correcting, and revising my translation. I hope you enjoy reading this post! :))
In Indonesia, I belong to minority groups, both in ethnicity and religion. I think life as a part of a minority does not differ too much wherever we live. Despite the fairness or the unfairness, there are certainly differences in being the majority or the minority, since the titles of the group already say so.
In my case, I am a member of a minority group but I am fluent in my local language, with the result that I sometimes experience amusing things in my life. For example, when I am in public transport, I often overhear other passengers’ conversations, and since they don’t necessarily know that I understand, they carry on conversations, talking about one particular ethnicity or race or religion or culture – sometimes about mine.
When such things happen, I always put on an innocent face and pretend that I had no idea what they were talking about, so that they continue talking and I can continue listening. Why? Because I am always curious about others’ perception and opinion about an issue.
From the conversations that I have eavesdropped, despite them being positive or negative, I feel that most of them are true, or at least consistent with my own experiences – and to be honest, I find this entertaining. However, not all of those conversations are disrespectful – there are some that admire the goodness of other ethnicities, religion, race, or culture (in Indonesia, we call them “SARA”; abbreviation for “suku” [ethnicity], “agama” [religion], “ras” [race], and “antar-golongan” [culture]). Assuming that my overheard conversations were carried on in the belief that I did not understand, I can only conclude that they were honest conversations which only intend to express feelings and share experiences.
I am never offended by such conversations, even when people say negative things about my ethnicity, religion, race, or culture. I am aware that every ethnicity, religion, race, and culture has been assigned their own stigma by society, and I realize that each of those stigmas has some truth, though often of little substance. I see labeling a group neither as a mockery nor praise, but rather as a subjective generalization/characterization which in reality may contain a thread of fact.
Should we be angry when our particular group is labeled in a negative way? Should we be proud when we hear our grouping being labeled in a positive way? Aren’t we the ones who play the most important role in the labeling and characterization of groups – either by our stereotypic public conduct as a member of a group, or by being an outsider who puts the labels on others?
I have learned to separate my identity as an individual and my identity as a part of an ethnicity, religion, race, or culture. I have learned that despite me being a member of an ethnicity, religion, race, or culture, I am under no obligation to follow the group’s values, perception, way of thinking, attitude, and behavior while ignoring my own individual set of values and actions.
If I were to merge those two identities, I am quite sure that I would become reactive regarding my ethnicity, religion, race or culture, rather than become responsive. If somebody praises my group, I will instantly believe without checking the truth, be proud and proclaim, “See, I (my group) am (is) the best among all.” On the other hand, if somebody criticizes my group, without thinking I will be irritated and declare, “That is not me (my group); you must have mistaken.”
Actually, it’s really exciting to be able to free ourselves once in a while and see an issue from another point of view, without being labeled a traitor. Figuratively speaking; if someone puts a mirror in front of us and points out our ugliness, closing our eyes and shattering the mirror won’t make us beautiful. What we should do is say thank you, accepting the mirror and learning about our bad sides, then finding a way to improve them. But that, of course, takes courage and restraint – and not everyone has them both.
All this time, I feel that people have been misrepresenting differences. Generally, people refuse to acknowledge differences and say, “Even though we are different, but we are just the same.” In my opinion, this statement is like a denial to the existence of diversity – while in reality, they treat people from different groups differently. I think it’s more rational to admit that differences do exist, and not to make those differences reasons to treat people differently. Instead of “denying differences but continue to treat people differently”, it’s better to “acknowledge the differences but not consider them as a grounds to discriminate against people”.
Personally, I think that differences in ethnicity, religion, race, or culture should not be used as a basis to judge anyone. Only because someone belongs to a group, doesn’t mean that he/she has the same characteristics with his/her group. I prefer to value people based on their character, personality, thoughts, mind, mentality, and way of thinking, which are personal achievements/efforts, instead of group-labeling, which is likely only the result of superficial categorization. Diversity does exist, indeed, but not so vital as to interfere with our individual freedom and choice. It is not “We are different but remain the same” but “We are different and it doesn’t matter”, or “We are different, so what?”
Some people concentrate too much on ignoring differences, so that unconsciously they are being too focused on the difference itself. On the contrary, if we befriend differences, they will make peace with us, and by that time, we will start seeing its beauty. Maya Angelou once said, “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”
In my opinion, being a part of a majority is not something to be proud of; just like being a member of a minority is not something to be ashamed of, because the terms “majority” and “minority” are simply about quantity instead of quality. Being a member of a majority, or belong to the larger part of a community, doesn’t mean that the group is more right or better than being a member of the minority or the smaller part. A group’s quality, either it’s majority or minority, depends on its members’ quality instead of its quantity. Hence, the quality of a group is highly correlated with the quality of its individuals, and we, as individuals, need to improve our self-quality instead of being a fanatic to our particular group. The arrogance of being a part of a majority tells that its individuals are not wise enough yet to comprehend the true concept of being a part of a majority.
I don’t think myself being a member of a minority as being a gift or a curse, since I see both majority and minority as a common thing in society, instead of as the “ruler” and the “ruled out”. I have been both (a part of a majority and minority) in different groups on different occasions, and I believe that social labels should not make me lose my identity as an individual. If you have experienced being both a member of a majority and a member of a minority, you will understand that differences do exist; but to judge someone solely based on social labels, is very shallow.
Here is where tolerance plays a vital role in our life. Tolerance is not equalizing all the differences, but respecting diversity and refusing to let them interfere with our lives and the lives of others. Tolerance is admitting that everyone has the right to be different, and not judging them for it. Tolerance is to stop limiting and controlling individual’s freedom to make their own decisions.
I hope that there will come a time when people all around the world will no longer fight over differences, because a fight over differences is an endless and winless battle. Differences are not meant to be debated, but to be accepted and respected. Furthermore, even though in this article I only mentioned differences on ethnicity, religion, race, and culture, I do think that equality should be applied not only in those fields, but also in other aspects such as gender, age, physical condition, social status, occupation, sexual preferences, et cetera.
I believe that there is no right or wrong; no good or bad in the variety of ethnicity, religion, race, culture, gender, age, physical condition, social status, occupation, sexual preferences, et cetera – thus it’s inappropriate to argue about or to judge them. When we are able to understand that diversity is what makes us unique, then we can stop fighting over differences and start enjoying diversity.
All in all, do not let physical or physiological or social differences diminish our values as individuals, because before we became a part of a superficially-categorized grouping, we were different individuals first – and a good individual is he who is able to be just without judging.
“Those who still like to fuss about differences and discriminate are those who have not seen the extent of the world.”
“Mereka yang masih gemar meributkan perbedaan dan mendiskriminasi adalah mereka yang belum mengenal luasnya dunia.”
“The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.” – Ralph W. Sockman
“If a country doesn’t recognize minority rights and human rights, including women’s rights, you will not have the kind of stability and prosperity that is possible.” – Hillary Clinton
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain