June 1 is commemorated as Pancasila Day, the philosophical foundation of the Indonesian state that bridges the country’s diversity.
Indonesia is not only blessed with vast natural resources but also the diversity of its people, languages, traditional cultures and religions. Such heterogeneity shapes the way we Indonesians live and makes us proud to be a part of our dear nation. Regardless of our differences in ethnicity, religion and language, we still manage to live side by side in harmony.
But that only appears on the surface. History recorded numerous conflicts across the archipelago — religious disputes being the most frequent.
Unfortunately today, there are some people who have not learned from the past since the first president of Indonesia, Sukarno, proposed the idea on June 1, 1945. Take, for example, the attacks on Indoneisa’s Ahmadiyah Muslims and the Bogor administration’s sealing off of a church, to name just a few examples.
Such religious intolerance, I’m afraid, comes from incorrect mindsets. A small group of people use their fanaticism and fail to understand the separation of state and religion. But religion should be kept to the private sphere.
Religious intolerance, as demonstrated by hard-liners, shows their unwillingness to accept pluralism in the community. In such cases, minority’s rights are not protected. Recent occurrences of injustice have put Indonesia in a shameful international spotlight.
The challenge now is to reconstruct our image as an open and tolerant country. Above all else, the freedom to practice religion is guaranteed by our constitution.
Pancasila is the key to this challenge. Its first three principles tell us: Belief in the One and Only God, Just and Civilized Humanity, and the Unity of Indonesia. These principles reflect the foundation of communal life in shaping Indonesian society, supporting unity within pluralism.
In brief, most Indonesians have grasped and adopted the true meaning of Pancasila. Yet a small number of people see the ideology as an obstacle and potential clash within religions.
In practice, any kind of violence and oppression must be stopped. Strong and consistent law enforcement is required. This is valid for anyone, including for people from religious organizations. In its implementation, not only the police but rather every element of society should be involved, including the religious communities. Only by concrete action will the voice of the “silent majority” be heard.
Indonesia has been through a remarkable journey to go toward the reformation. This new era has given birth to democracy and freedom. It is therefore our duty to keep the spirit of Pancasila alive.