Thoughts About the Indonesian Elections and Other Ramblings on a Four-Day Weekend

Half of the four day weekend is over, and I’m already deep into the third day. The first day was spent mucking about editing video for the school website. I’m a believer in having video of student activities on a school website. This comes first as a parent: I’d love to see some visual evidence of what my children do at school. If I was able to see even a few things that they are doing, I’d have more information than I get from the kids when they respond, “School was good.” Second, as a former administrator, any communication that we can do with parents is a positive thing for a school.

So, I’ve been editing videos which takes some time, even with just a basic edit. Then, too, I’ve been involved in a flurry of cleaning the apartment. Partly, this keeps me from thinking about the impending results of a cancer test, partly it keeps me from thinking about how much I miss my family, and partly it gives me something physical to do. I spend far too much time here on the computer doing lessons, writing blogs and such.

Yesterday, I went off on a trip up to Scar Reef which is about forty minutes from here with a friend and his child. We went to visit other friends who were staying up there for the long weekend. Living in a closed community can be confining, and getting out even if it’s just for a few hours can be liberating. For me, the day out gave me some release from the frustrations of working in a school that is looking for a direction and from the uncertainty of what is going to unfold in the next few months. Cathartic is probably the best way to describe yesterday.

Today, I’ve been working on developing a curriculum for my last term here that is aligned with the Indonesian national curriculum. I’m actually enjoying this little exercise. I could use a few more days though to get it thoroughly sussed out.

OK, the Indonesian elections. I’ve read a few negative comments from expat bloggers and on forums, but from my very personal situation, the elections have been great. My wife has gotten involved in the elections this year – I’m not sure how that happened, but when I returned from my 10 week stint here in Sumbawa, she spent the first two days of my vacation giving my blow-by-blow accounts of her speech for the Democratic Party rally in our kampung. I rarely use the word “glowing” to describe my wife which is probably the result of being married for almost 20 years, and some problem that I’ve always had with visualizing a human glowing (other than in a B-movie when they’ve been zapped with some radioactive potion), but she glowed everytime she talked about the elections and her role in rallying the kampung for the president’s party. Daughter #1, while not thrilled with the idea of her mother becoming a politico, is also taking her voting rights seriously and can talk about the positive and negative aspects of a surprising number of the 38 parties contesting the election.

Coming from the country that likes to see itself as the savior of democracy, I always measure my comments about democracy in developing countries lest my remarks be construed as condescending, but I remember the days in the U.S. when Richard J. Daley’s Democratic Party ran Chicago with a grasp almost as strong as any dictator – those folks that weren’t there won’t remember his shot to maim and shoot to kill orders during the riots following Martin Luther King’s assassination, or how the garbage collection mysteriously stopped after a ward voted against him in an election, or how the infamous Red Squad used to sweep houses of protesters looking for drugs or any other thing that they could arrest us on to keep us from being in the opposition.

I remember, as well, the days of the Suharto regime when people disappeared and were later found dead or were never found again. So, despite the problems that this election may have had, the country is heading in the right direction, and politicians are getting out to talk to the people – I met several during my recent vacation in Bali. – and that’s what democracy is about – communicating the desires of the people with their leaders. If only schools worked that way.


~ by drbrucepk on April 11, 2009.

2 Responses to “Thoughts About the Indonesian Elections and Other Ramblings on a Four-Day Weekend”

  1. This post was interesting to me. I spent my childhood in Ujung Pandang and Jayapura, but then returned to the country of my citizenship for college and Chicago became home. I’m still following Indonesian politics somewhat, and I must say Chicago politics may have improved from Richard J Daley, but not by much! The Daley regime still runs the city, just less openly.

  2. Thanks for the comments Kacie. Were your parents missionaries? I worked in Irian Jaya for 9 years and had a few missionary kids as my students. And wow, Chicago. I do miss it at times.

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