Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ask Yourself

No, I wasn't galvanized to write this post by Justin Bieber's song Love Yourself. This post is a fruit of me looking at what has been happening in my life.

I just got in a relationship recently. It is a phase that is blissful; I have found someone that I have been waiting for. Being in love is one of the greatest things humans can experience, I believe.

However, it doesn't mean there are no rocks on the road. Once my respected high school teacher told me something that sounded like "Living a relationship or marriage life is not a piece of cake; it is not easy to 'unite two heads.'" Arguments or disagreements must occur between the two loving ones. I have encountered these and I learned something from seeing about this kind of situation.

From my vantage point, when a problem comes up, humans tend to see anything that is not them. We automatically think of other people associated with it and try to find the 'mistakes' that they have made. I think it is a trait that should urgently be changed. I found asking myself an amazing way to deal with a problem. Instead of 'looking outside', spattering ourselves with questions such as "Does the problem exist because of me?"; "What mistakes have I made?"; and "What have I done wrong?" would be a much better option.

Most of us deal with many people on a daily basis. Friends and family are some who you can have skirmishes with. So, you could start to solve them by being wiser, using the 'magic mirror'. Or let's take it to a much higher level: think about an issue your country is facing. Is it really the government's failure? Or is it you who don't care about your own country?

I'm not saying that we are always the ones to blame for anything bad happening in our lives. It is just that we need to not forget to take ourselves into account when considering something. It is always good to reflect on ourselves, isn't it?
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Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Problem of Tolerance

Recently, in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the food stall of an aged woman named Saeni was inspected by officials of Banten, one of the biggest provinces in Indonesia. They confiscated all of her food – and perhaps drink(s) too – since it was considered illegal for people to sell food and/or drink during certain hours in the fasting month for Muslims. This was recorded on a video and it became viral on social media; the public responded by giving her a big donation – around 265 million IDR, equal to approximately 19,925 USD.

The underlying idea behind this attention-drawing event is that people should express tolerance to those who are fasting. However, there are people who are opposed to this with the thought that, actually, Muslims are the ones who have to pay respect – to those who aren't fasting – which makes a lot more sense since, as far as I know, fasting is not about avoiding temptation, but resisting it.
But, say, it is really about 'avoiding temptation'. So we are faced with a clash – one side wants fulfill their daily sustenance needs (and this means bread and butter for Saeni), while the other wants to experience as fewer things that can drive them to consume food and drink as they can.

In the wake of this controversial matter, a meme challenging the Minister of Religious Affairs to keep Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport open on Silence Day and ban Christmas trees in malls has spread on the Internet. If you think about it, they reflect the same kind of issue. Most Balinese are Hindus, but there are Balinese who aren't. I believe so many foreigners, as well as non-Hindu Balinese (including Muslims), want to enter and leave Bali through the airport on the religious holiday, when Hindus don't work – perhaps they want to visit their families or partners that they haven't met for ages. The question is "Who is to tolerate who?" The same thing can be recognized in the second case, although it is subtler. Would a Muslim hanging out in a mall be agreeable to occupancy of items promoting Christianity, which clearly teaches doctrines contradictory to Islamic ones, in some space where they should be able get through? The honest answer is "no". And this gives rise to the same question "Who is to tolerate who?"

I reckon we can find many other examples easily. You live next to a church and the choir is enchanting a hymn while you are trying to meditate, needing silence. You are exhausted and trying to catch forty winks at noon before continue working at 1, but the mosque near your workplace is emitting loud sounds through its speaker(s) – it's very likely to happen in Indonesia. You are discussing the possibility of a new contract with your important business partner while the smoke and ash of burning incense from a temple is making your eyes ache and distracting your concentration. Who is to tolerate who?

There is no win-win solution to this kind of thing. One has to swallow a bitter pill, whereas the other rejoices in the fulfillment of their wish. The end result might be in favor of the majority of inhabitants of the region.
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Friday, July 15, 2016

Why Dinosaurs?

Other than Jay Chou, another thing that might arise in my friends' minds when they think of me is surely dinosaurs. The fascinating beasts that come in all kinds of shapes and sizes have never ceased to intrigue me to date.

A Tyrannosaurus skeleton

As with most dinosaur fans all around the world, my liking for dinosaurs started early in life. In my childhood, I got a bunch of dinosaur books which were laden with numerous visuals designed to attract young readers. At one of his TED Talks, world-renowned paleontologist Jack Horner says, when asked what is behind children's love for dinosaurs, he usually replies that "dinosaurs were big, different, and gone" – although actually they are not gone, as Jack clarifies subsequently. I think it partly explains why these bizarre creatures captivated me as a little kid, because, as American paleontologist Steve Brusatte says in an Earth Unplugged video, "there's just something about dinosaurs, there's some magic to them, there's some indescribable essence to them."

Aside from the above mentioned reason, why dinosaurs? Why not Pokémon GO, which is arguably the most popular game nowadays? Why not anime and manga, of which a huge number of fan bases are scattered on the globe? Why not superheroes, like those created by Marvel and DC?

I would start with the most 'important' one: learning about dinosaurs means learning about the world as a whole, including ourselves. It takes us on a deep journey into prehistory, the time before we, humans, appeared on the scene, so that we can actually understand how our world works. We must take dinosaurs into account to really understand evolution, including how we came to be who we are. It is a pity that many people are ignorant of or even deny the theory of evolution; dinosaurs are a great tool to teach this (and science, in general – Steve says dinosaurs are "just an automatic gateway into science" in a science festival video) to the public and eradicate the misleading thought.

Knowing dinosaurs has also turned me into a more humble person. It has made me realize that we are just 'tiny' things – with a lifespan of around 70 years – existing in this vast, super old (around 4.6 billion years old), changing world and our species, Homo sapiens, is just a newcomer. Terrorism that is invading our planet – and seems to be getting more and more cruel and violent day by day – claiming an enormous number of lives, I believe, is a product of false understanding or a wrong view of the world. Together, as the human race, we need to strive for a better world for our continuous existence. I firmly believe and am very confident that dinosaurs can play an exceptionally important role in attaining world peace.

Dinosaurology is also extremely important as it significantly contributes to our knowledge of "how the earth has changed over time" (a phrase by Steve from his Earth Unplugged video The Dinosaur Expert that keeps reverberating in my head) and this relates to climate change, which is a global issue we are currently facing. Understanding this in should help us solve this urgent problem. Studying dinosaurs means studying the past in the present for the future.

Last but not least, seriously, what is more engaging than dinosaurs? Gigantic behemoths possessing extremely long necks and tails, big-headed vicious-looking predators equipped with lines of big serrated teeth, rhino-like animals boasting eye-catching head ornamentation, club-tailed creatures with body coverings reminiscent of tanks, and many more – not to mention 10,000 or so species of our feathered relatives: birds, the only surviving lineage of dinosaurs. Nothing, right?

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