- It has enabled me to get to know myself and others more intimately,
- It has forced me to ask some deeper questions about my relationship to the world,
- It has given me a unique perspective.
We who are not Muslim find it difficult to speak about what seems to be an Islamic identity crisis in the context of a broader society. Should we not speak of it? In Indonesia we are sitting at the brink of a war between Islam and everything that is not Islam, even while the whole of Islam seems to be engaged in infighting.
What remains of Indonesia's former identity, what existed here before Islam? This would be of importance to the majority of Indonesians today, irrespective of religious preference. But, I think a debate about it has been erased from contemporary history, it doesn't seem to be on the agenda.
The practice of Kebatinan and kejawen by Muslims within elite spheres speaks to the acceptance of pluralism and syncretism in Java, and in so far that Soeharto may have been representative of Indonesian people, and their multifarious ways. There are as many cultures here as there are islands, or at least, that was once true, perhaps in the lust for nationalism and unification we've lost the roots of people's true identities; a deeper past.
Update: On the other hand Indonesia has recently recognized Dewi Kanti/Sunda Wiwitan, et al., as a new "native faith" category, and recommended it be distinguished among six other major religions. This is a positive first step to ensuring religious diversity in Indonesia.
If we were to simply observe Jakarta we might mistake capitalism for religion, because there is a plethora of shopping malls, harboring the same shops on the inside, looking pretty modern. Is this is the new character that is sought by Indonesia at-large; being a part of a fashionable modern world? Is it fair that any such generalizations about Indonesia may be the result of globalism, and the subsequent loss of endinginous culture?
Now here we have a Christian arguing against mono-culture and for diversity. So, what is "pure", what is foreign, and what is preventing us from being honest about the need to permit some diversity of opinion and ambiguity among people of any faith to spur on a substantive debate, and a healthy bit of competition, as opposed to more group think, and a lack of independent thought?
What business is this of a foreigner's to stir up controversy regarding the sociopolitical environment in a country where I am but a guest? I suppose we humans are all guests on this planet-island, for a limited time, despite our impact on one another. We have a right to think for ourselves, no doubt.
I say let the Muslims protest. Let them exercise their right to disagree with Ahok challenging their sense of righteousness. But, let them know God doesn't require their protection against so-called blasphemy. He is already above politics and religion. But, free Ahok, and don't make him pay the price for your bigotry!
The fervor of late has caused some to forget their principles, despite their notions of religion. No one is above reproach.