We all witnessed a phenomenon today that we thought we would never see in our lifetime: A first African-American ever elected to the highest office in America.
Indonesians, of course, just like many people in any other countries, are mostly for Obama. The online survey in Detik.com for example, gave Obama an even bigger landslide than he actually got in the election.
So we love Obama, no doubt about it.
Now the question is: if there is an 'obama' in our country, will we be able to spot him? Or better yet, will we vote for him?
So let's play with our imagination and draw a picture of our 'obama' :
Barack Obama is half white, half black. His mother is a white woman from Kansas and his father came from Kenya. In America, white is the majority, and black is the biggest minority.
In Indonesia, that would make our 'obama' half native Indonesian and half Chinese. Let's just say, our 'obama' has a javanese mother from Solo, central Java, and an Indonesian-Chinese father with ancestors from Fujian province, China.
Barack Obama has an African name. That name is not very common in the US and even Obama himself frequently refers to himself as a person 'with a funny name'.
So let's give our 'obama' a name that is not originally Indonesian. Let's call him Vincent Tjoa. (this is just an imaginary name. A mere example).
Barack Obama is a christian, while his father is a muslim. Christianity is the major religion in the US. So In Indonesia, this would make our Vincent a muslim (the majority), but with a christian father.
Vincent Tjoa, a muslim, mother from Solo, and christian father originally from Fujian, China. Picture it yet?
Let's build up our Vincent character some more using our imagination:
Just like Obama, our Vincent is young, patriotic and full of idealism. His life has not been easy. His father abandoned him when he was small and he was mostly raised by his grandparents in Solo, far from richness. Yet through his own perseverence he managed to graduate first from one of the top school in the country. (Let's say he graduated from ITB or UI).
Soon after he graduated, instead of taking a high-paying job in Jakarta, he chose to work in his community helping the poor.
He then went into politics, and became a member of parliament. He is new, with more idealism than experience, yet wildly popular. He has many supporters among young people, who are tired looking at Indonesia's same old corrupt politics. The young people think Vincent understands them. Understands their aspirations. Their ideals. They believe Vincent will be able to lead Indonesia to the better.
Two years later Vincent decided to run for the presidency.
He runs a grass root, efficient, discipline campaign, offering to bring change to Indonesian politics: He promised to end the divisive politics based on religion, race and ethnicity in Indonesia. "There is no javanese Indonesia. there is no chinese Indonesia, there is no muslim Indonesia, there is no christian Indonesia. There is only one Indonesia! Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, unity in diversity".
Vincent makes beautiful speeches. A great orator. He inspires. He has the ability to move people. Give them hope.
And to top it up, he has an incredibly structured, detailed plan on how to bring Indonesia to a brighter future. "Our prosperity is within reach", he said, "if only we can all work together. It is not about me, it is about you. About Indonesia."
His opponent is an old timer yet a very popular Indonesian politician. A native Indonesian, a devout muslim, a former Indonesian military man who has been in politics for a very long time and part of the political establishment. He is incredibly wealthy and his campaign is run by old faces of the establishment's political machine. Unfortunately, this is the same establishment that some Indonesian people view as the status quo: tolerating the corrupt culture and too slow to move the country forward.
Now, here's the question: Given the story above, will we, Indonesians, vote for our Vincent Tjoa to be Indonesia's next president ? Or will we vote for his opponent?
Can we get past his background, his christian father from Fujian province, his name, and his half chinese ethnicity, and vote for him?
If not, why not?
If not, then why are we cheering for Barack Obama? Because Obama offers a dream that we can never achieve?
After one decade Indonesia has moved from a dictatorship to a democracy. And not just any democracy. A good one too. The one that works.
And democracy works even better if we use it to bring about our future. To realize what we can achieve. And to choose the best person who can lead us to achieve them.
Shouldn't we look at a candidate based on his or her quality? On what future he or she can offer to us?
The best person. Not the best person with this or that religion, this or that race, or this or that ethnic group. And certainly not because he or she is a celebrity, a tv personality, a singer, or an actor.
The best person, period.
Knowing that we are dying to change our future, so desperate to change our country to the better, are we willing to keep an open mind and embrace the 'obama' among us? Our Vincent Tjoa?
Will we even consider him as a candidate at all? Will we vote for him and trust him to lead us?
Or are we going to cling on to the same old divisive politics, same old status quo while at the same time happily cheering for America's Obama?
Isn't that hypocrisy?
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