Pondering: Under the Grip of Materialism


Demolition of eight historical buildings in Medan, North Sumatra began last week despite concerns from activists and historians.

The historical buildings — five Dutch colonial-era buildings on Jl. Timor and three on Jl. Ahmad Yani — would be replaced by a shopping mall and a newspaper office.

Sumatra Heritage Council (BWS) secretary Rika Susanto, said that the demolition of historical buildings in Medan was uncontrolled.

More than 45 of 150 historical buildings that the BWS proposed for preservation have been torn down over the last several years, she said.

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I was kinda shocked reading this article posted by The Jakarta Post. It was “oh My God”!!

I have heard a lot of people here say “Why should we learn History?”, “History is just a history, there is no need to learn it.” and some similar “complaints” about History.

Let me say this in my perspective as an ex-student, and a citizen of a country! I won’t mind it if people do not like History, at least their own native land’s History.Each of us has what I call as interest subjects. But, to avoid learning History at all, not even a bit? I do not think that’s a wise thing to do as a citizen of a country. I am not claiming I am good at knowing Indonesia in the past, at least not in that detailed. However, I keep on learning. I am not an historian, thus I do need bother too much to focus myself on learning it into detailed what had happened in my own country years, or even thousand years ago. I guess even historians fail to understand completely what has happened in the past, just my opinions.

“Francis Bacon used the term in the late 16th century, when he wrote about “Natural History“. For him, historia was “the knowledge of objects determined by space and time”, that sort of knowledge provided by memory (while science was provided by reason, and poetry was provided by fantasy).” Wikipedia.

I believe we do not just mingle with certain kinds of people who have the same interest subjects as they. If that what had happened, I guess this world would be divided into thousand cubicles with strict law that said ” Do not enter my cubicle! yours belong to Natural Science”, or ” This cubicle is only for Social Science geeks, those who violate will be shot dead.” Is that it? No!

I’ve come to realize that nothing is called as the most important field of study. Whatever academic disciplines you are studying, and others are studying ; their positions are equal, they complete each other, and I am sure at some cases they are related, and unquestionably inseparable. So, there is no such thing as History / Earth Sciences / Life Sciences / Chemistry / Physics / etc is the most important field of study anyone in this world should learn.

I think there are several reasons why each citizen of a country needs to learn his or her own native’s land History ( at least in my opinion. Different opinions are cordially welcome, share bitte!)

1.History helps us understand people, and societies.

How people behave now is more or less a result of the past. How people in the past dealt with problems become a lesson learned for the people in the present time.

2.History helps us understand change

Have we made some progress compared to some years ago? or we are going nowhere as we do not react differently to the same issues, which failed to solve some years back. I think History is like a life track. Just do not fall into the same hole over and over again. Only by learning History can we track whether we have made some changes or not. Only by learning History can we be a better country.

3. History Provides Identity

Chauvinism is bad! It ruins peace. However without having a bit of chauvinism inside us, a country will loose its power as a nation. In relevance to the historical buildings; they give a nation a sense of pride. A pride that we are the nations who respect history, and the important people got involved in the events happened there long before we were here. The events which had shaped us as a country. How would we tell to people about some important events taken place in those historical buildings ? Then you said “Well, the declaration was made there, but now it is a mall.” Dang! People would think we were lying! have we transformed into a country of liars?

4.It is good for citizenship

I do not bother that much whether or not you are patriotic, but I think at some point people are pride to be called as a citizen of a country, you name one!Learning History means you learn yourself, and when you learn yourself you are in the path of loving yourself, and accepting you just as you are without ever having the intention of transforming you into a completely different person. When you know History of your country, you will love your country as your home wherever you are

I suspect there are several reasons why people do not like History(in my point of view):

1.It is because of the complicated data it may sometimes convey, people just don’t bother data sometimes. People once said to me “Can you remember all the years, the complicated names, places, etc? they gave me headache.”

Well, I wish my memory were as good as an elephant. Remembering all the data may be very important for students either History students, or just students who have this History in their school curricula. But, for us? people who are ex-students, and the citizen of, in this case, Indonesia- in some cases, I do not think we have to bother so much on exact data. So, History is not that complicated.

2. People just can’t stand reading too long. I do not think that History demands our 24/7 for our better understanding towards it. Reading 20 minutes or less, say, 15 minutes is better than reading 1 hour or more without understanding what I have just read. I think reading is not the only way people learn History, and this may relate to no.3

3.History is not appealing, because the data is not presented attractively enough to attract people to absorb themselves into it. As I think the data of History can be seen physically via historical buildings, scripts kept in the historical museums or written in placards or something like that. History can also be seen non-physically via the behavior of people in a society.

4. In relevance to the historical buildings, I think they are thinking of the costly maintenance.

I suspect those so-called important people in the article of the Jakarta Post are affected by these four reasons ( my version).

They are wrong!

Historical buildings can be one source of our income. When some people intent to come here to learn our history, it is our obligation to tell the truth, thus we need data. If data is demolished, then nothing is to share anymore, thus none will be able to tell whether we are telling the truth. Once again, are we going to transform ourselves into a nation of liars being colonized by the so-called more glimmering profits of malls?? Give me a break!

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