The central dilemma of history is that the dynamic that promotes economic prosperity arises largely from the conviction that the material world alone constitutes true `reality’.
– Blurb for Holding Up a Mirror: How Civilizations Decline by Anne Glyn-Jones
‘The Philosophical Basis of Human Rights in Indonesia’ is the heading of this page on the website of the Indonesian Embassy in London.
The Indonesian Government has consistently endeavored to adhere to the humanitarian precepts and basic human rights and freedoms embodied in its national philosophy, Pancasila, its 1945 Constitution, and its national laws and regulations. Indeed these precepts, rights and freedoms, as embodied in the constitutional and legal system, derive from age-old traditions, customs and the philosophy of life of the Indonesian people.
One of the ‘Five Pillars’ of Pancasila is that everyone should believe in “the one and only God”. And that has caused problems because various sects think that they are the only true believers and show little respect, even resorting to violence, to prove to themselves that only they will ‘inherit the earth’ once they have departed for the hereafter.
President-elect Jokowi, a devout Javanese Muslim, has stated that he wants to retain the Ministry of Religious Affairs, whereas my contention is that its retention will do little to change the nation’s mindset.
His call for a change in the people’s mindset is the raison d’être for this series of posts. However, although I do agree that improvement in areas like health and education is crucial in achieving that, I do not believe that building “a foundation to make people more productive and competitive in the economy” is the correct aim.
(“Productive”, meaning to raise incomes in order to purchase what is produced from finite resources, and “competitive”, meaning in world markets.)
“The economic development in my opinion is first, to build the human resource, through education…What kind of education? We should do mental revolution.”
(I can’t decide if that is the way Jokowi speaks or if it’s a Google translation!)
I believe that what we are witnessing in the western world and in the so-called ‘developing world’ is the breakdown of civilisation, much of it rooted in global capitalism, which has created a divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, who being disenfranchised turn to religion, to ‘God’s will’, as an excuse-cum-palliative for their predicament.
The most cursory of internet searches unearths the following interactive site which offers a historical overview of how and why civilisations collapse.
The history of humankind has been marked by patterns of growth and decline. Some declines have been gradual, occurring over centuries. Others have been rapid, occurring over the course of a few years. War, drought, natural disaster, disease, overpopulation, economic disruption: any of these or a combination of these events can bring about the collapse of a civilization. Internal causes (such as political struggles or overfarming) can combine with external causes (such as war or natural disaster) to bring about a collapse.
Natural disasters are generally caused by the movements of Planet Earth’s tectonic plates which lead to volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis and landslips. These naturally occurring events, few of which are predictable in their timing, often lead to massive loss of human lives. However, these should be termed ‘man-made disasters’.
The widespread death toll from the 2004 Aceh tsunami was exacerbated by environmental destruction such as the removal of mangrove forests and other coastal defences in order to build tourism projects. The death tolls from earthquakes are unacceptably high because of the shoddy (and often corrupt) construction of buildings in known earthquake zones. Landslides are preventable by not removing the tree cover: their roots prevent rootlessness.
The planet can only support a limited human population. Its constant expansion has lead to the rapid reduction in finite natural resources: minerals, fertile land (concreted or paved over for industrial and other infrastructure ‘developments’) and, especially, potable water.
Humanity as a whole, and not just in Indonesia, needs a different mindset if it is to survive, and a vital key to that is ecopsychology.
The basic idea is that while the human mind is shaped by the modern social world, it can be readily inspired and comforted by the wider natural world, because that is the arena in which it originally evolved. One has to include the relationship of humans to other species and ecosystems. These relations have a deep evolutionary history; reach a natural affinity within the structure of their brains and they have deep psychic significance in the present time, in spite of urbanization. Humans are dependent on healthy nature not only for their physical sustenance, but for mental health, too. The destruction of ecosystems means that something in humans also dies.
(The way things are going, that last sentence should read: The destruction of ecosystems means that humans also die.)
So, yes, I do believe that all peoples should respect and obey the laws of the One and Only God.
And her name is Gaia, aka Mother Nature.