at school watching more military drills. there are two groups of about 9 students, all female. they are being ordered around by two other female students.
they are told to stand like this, stand like that. Put their arms behind their backs.
then they are told to march like robots. they swing their arms back and forth along their sides with their hands in a fist.
then they are told to march backwards. why female vocational high school students need to learn this is beyond me. well actually they don't need to learn it. but someone wanted them to and someone convinced them to voluntarily do this. this is an extra curricular class. everyone else has gone home. it is getting dark now. about ten minutes after six. they are all in one group now. i am sad and discouraged to see my friend anita in the group. i want to ask her why she has joined this group
at one point they are all told to put their backpacks down. so they all do of course.
i asked one of mr tony's classes about this marching. two or three of the students in his class said they were in the group. i asked them why and one said for the discipline. she said something about the idea of one person telling a lot of others what to do as if it were a good thing.
now the mosquitoes are biting me. i am thinking of freedom. most of the students know that i like freedom. i am thinking how free are you if you can't smack a mosquito because it is biting you? you can't smack it because you are afraid to - because you are standing at "attention."
then they are told to get their backpacks/bookbags. they run over to get them. then they have to do something like push ups with their backpacks/bookbags on. they do twenty of them - what we used to call girl push ups, from their knees, not from their feet. i suppose this is training in case they ever are in the army. this is all about training them to be in the military someday and be accustomed to being ordered around like this - even more accustomed to it than being in a classroom or living under the authority of their parents.
then they are asked something and they all answer the same thing a few times. then they are released. they all walk away without looking over to me. i suspect they are afraid to look at me because they can sense i disapprove. they probably feel a little defensive and on some level they know there is something wrong with what they are doing. they probably feel false. they know they are not acting naturally. people don't naturally do what they have been doing. so they probably feel self-conscious. by avoiding looking at me they don't have to think about what they have been doing.
i was hoping at least anita would come over and talk to me, or even look at me and smile as she usually does when i am around, but she went along with the group without so much as a glance in my direction. it is very, very discouraging.
At the Catholic school I asked some students if they had something like this. They said they did. It was also an "extracurricular" activity. I asked them what they thought about it and encouragingly, one student said he hated it. I asked why and he said it was like the military.
One day on my way to the train station I stopped by a kindergarten to see if they might want me to speak to the kids one day. I talk to a mother and the first thing she asks me is "how much." I tell her that I don't charge. She is surprised. Later I realize that this is an expensive private school so I understand why her first thought was about money. But she speaks English well and invites me to sit down. (I am always being told to sit down here in Indonesia. Maybe it is because I am so tall compared to the Indonesians.)
My first observation is that the children aren't smiling much. They remind me of children in Singapore who are regulary hit with canes at home and at school. If they are not hit themselves, they see others hit, or are threatened with being hit. One boy doesn't want to come into the school. He is crying and resisting. I watch to see how the teacher will respond. She talks to him for a while, then pulls him into the building by his hand. She was not harsh about it, and didn't seem to threaten him, but neither did she get down to his level by kneeling down or sitting down next to him and validating his feelings.
While sitting with her I saw the four year olds being forced to line up as if in the army. I use force because the children did not have a choice. Though they were not physically tied in place, they were psychologically pressured and physically moved around according to the will of the adults. They were forced to stand at attention and repeat a lot of propoganda about the school and about one of the religions. The mother called this some kind of "declaration." I suppose it is something like the brainwashing I received in the USA called the "Pledge of Allegiance". I believe there are more children and teenagers being told to "say the pledge" now than there were when I was growing up. Back then we only had to do it till we were about 12 as I recall. But maybe I just forgot since I had become accustomed to it. Training and brainwashing seeems mostly about getting people "accustomed" to things. If they do it long enough and hear it and say it long enough, they believe it is normal, no matter what it is. And of course it is normal for them, but it doesn't mean it is healthy for them or for the world.
I won't say which religion they were being indoctrinated with. It almost doesn't matter, because they are all so similar, at least the Christian and Muslim religions are. They both say things like everyone who doesn't believe what they do is going to Hell and that their followers can't have any other gods. They both are full of hypocricy and both seem to be primarly interested in money, control and their own self-preservation rather than improving humanity in general. I will just say that I have seen similar brainwashing of 4 and 5 year olds in both Muslim and Christian schools.
At one point they are told to put their hands out in front of them like they are saluting something. One of the teachers comes around and "corrects" they way one of the boys is standing. She takes his arm and puts it where she wants it. The whole time I am there I see very few smiles.
All the children are wearing the same uniform. White shirts, white shorts and a red bowtie. They remind me of the lawn bowlers in Florida. Rich people seem to like white. I think it is impractical to dress children in white and it only makes it more likely a mother will shout at her child for getting his or her clothes dirty.
Later they tell me I can come speak to the kids later in the week. But they say I have to wear long pants. I say "But the kids are wearing shorts!" They say, "They are children." I say, "I am just a big child. Why can't I wear shorts too?!" They say, "It is Indonesian culture." I tell them that I have spoken at another school in shorts. They said "Some schools allow shorts, but we don't."
Later I decided I won't wear long pants unless I am cold. I feel sad for the children who will be deprived of a chance to meet someone from another culture, but I don't want to compromise my integrity. I know that the children don't care if I wear shorts or not. It is only the adults. The more time I spend with adults, the less I like them.
So far four people in Indonesia now have commented about me wearing shorts. One asked me to wear long pants, or "trousers" as they usually say here, when I met her for lunch. I knew this was a bad sign. I told her I didn't have any long pants with me but she met me anyhow. She turned out to be very materialistic, which was no surprise of course. Lunch with her is a whole other story... but briefly I will say that she worked at a fancy/expensive hotel- the Shangrila. She didn't want me to give money to the poor people. She said things like "you can't help everyone." And she told me how they beggars come into town to get money then go back to their villages. Later I thought, so what?, what is the difference between what they do and someone who goes to the city to work in an office then goes back to their suburb? She also told me she had a relative who married an American who wanted to come back to Indonesia. She said life was much better here. Here she could have a maid, a cook, a driver and two gardeners. She called herself a Catholic, by the way, and like so many Catholic women, she was wearing a lot of jewelry. While we talked, her driver sat in the parking lot waiting for her.
One day while watching things at the school I am sitting with my feet resting against the flag pole. Some students come and ask me to take my feet down. I am not sure why. They don't speak English so I can't ask them. Do they think it will knock over the pole, or do they think it is disrespectful or is it a rule or what? I don't know. Then three girls come over to the flagpole. Two of them stand at attention in front of it. Another one stands off to the side and starts giving them instructions. In a military fashion, the two walk up to the flagpole. Then
down the flag. At each step of the process the third girl tells them what to do. I think about how unecessary she is. The two people definitely don't need her to tell them what to do. I am not even sure if two people are needed.
When the flag is down the third girl gives them another command. They robotically they turn towards each other and start to fold the flag. I remember something like this from when I was young. We were told there is a certain "right" way to fold the flag. And we were told never to let it touch the ground or it would have to be burnt. I don't think I ever really questioned this. But to see it being done now seemed absurd to me. I wanted to tell them it is just a piece of cloth. I wanted to tell them it is not worth dying over and never to believe anyone who tells you that it is your duty to die for your "god and country." When they are done folding it the third girl tells them to walk backwards, again in a robotic military fashion. It is like these three humans have been transformed into machines. It is frightening to me. Someone tells me this is called manurunkan bandera.
I have a few stories to tell about the hotels... like how of the employees at a hotel told me he had a younger sister who couldn't pay her school fees. He set me up quite well. Briefly, he tried to convince me he was my friend and was looking out for my best interest by telling me things like it was better to use the outside phone than the phone in the hotel. But later I found out there wasn't really much difference in the price. He also told me how stingy the hotel owner was and how the government didn't care about the people in Indonesia (which I think is pretty much true) and how his sister would come home crying because the teachers would yell at her about paying her school fees. He also told me not to tell anyone else at the hotel because "they would get jealous and want money". But now I see that this is like the father who tells his daughter whom he is abusing that it "their little secret" and it would "hurt Mommy's feelings" or something.
He also found out when I was planning to check out and then told me just before he thought I was leaving that the school told his sister she needed to pay by that Monday. He would take me aside and give long stories about the poverty in Indonesia. He told me his sister would come home crying. But now that I look back he was really exaggerating. And often he was smiling, as many Indonesians do when they are feeling nervous or insecure about something. He also told me that he wasn't the kind of person that would steal or kill someone for money. I think he said this to imply that if things were desperate enough he might do it, and that he might even kill me for money. I felt a little intimidated by it when he said it. He also told me about the taxi drivers that were killed. I think he wanted me to see Indonesia as a dangerous place so I would want him to be my guide and protect me. Or maybe it was just general intimidation, somehow implying that if I paid him I would be less likely to get robbed by someone else. Maybe the psychological strategy was to make me feel deserving of being robbed if I didn't help his sister out.
Then he tried to make me feel guilty when I told him I would like to meet his younger sister before I gave him some money to help her. I told him that I didn't want to not trust him, but many people had told me it was foolish to give money to someone I had never met. He started getting defensive and evasive, saying things like "My sister doesn't speak English." I also asked if I could call the school. He said the school had yelled at him before because they don't want the school to have a bad name. Looking back, I think this is one of the least likely things. I think the school would be happy to talk to someone who they thought might be willing to help. Trying to lay a guilt trip on me he also said, "I told you about my sister because I thought you had a big heart, but if you don't want to do it, it's okay, just forget about it." When someone says "just forget it" they don' t want you to forget it at all. They want you to think about it and feel guilty. And I did feel guilty because he had done somethings to help me so I gave him some money. I felt satisfied with what I gave him and he evidently did too. When I saw him leaving on the back of a motorcycle a few minutes later he gave me a big smile and waved. I think he was proud of himself that he had conned me out of some money at least. I think for him it is more the game than the amount of money.
The next day I asked someone if he had a younger sister. The person I asked said, "Why do you ask a question like that?" They wanted to know what he had told me before they would answer my question. Eventually this person told he doesn't have a younger sister who is in school. But they told me not to tell him that they told me. As time went on I learned who I could trust more and who I couldn't. Most of the people working there were nice people. He was the only one who was tricking people as far as I could tell.
The next time I saw him I put my hand on his shoulder and smiled a little and said, "How's your sister?" I think he could tell that I had found out his trick. But he still tried to keep it going so I asked if the school gave him a receipt for what he had given them. At first he said no, then he said, well yes, but not a big receipt, just a small one. Since then he hasn't said anything about his sister when I have seen him, but I pretty much try to avoid him. The more I think about it, I think he is one of the emotionally intelligent people who has learned to use his EI to con people.
Another thing about the hotels here is how they sometimes give you receipts and sometimes they don't. At one hotel this wasn't a problem, but at another one they tried to tell me I had to pay for two extra nights when they said I forgot to pay. Then they changed it to one extra night. He was trying to tell me that the last time I paid it was only up to midnight that night! In other words he wanted to charge me twice for one night! When I asked him about what would happen if I paid at ten in the morning one day and checked out at ten the next day he said that would only be one day, but because I had been staying there a long time it is a different system. He tried to walk off saying I owed him for two nights but I followed him and said, "No, it is one night."
Then I found someone who had been staying there for a while who spoke English and asked for his help. Then they said "it is okay." I asked him if they give him a receipt each day and he said yes. I have heard there is a double standard of doing things --one for Indonesians and one for foreigners -- and this might be one example of it. I've heard that sometimes there are two prices and I wonder if I have been paying more each night.
Now when I look back I wonder how friendly they really were when they were smiling at me and saying good morning all the time. It is sad that they try to take advantage of people. In the long run it will only hurt them more because fewer tourists will come here or come back to their hotel. It is very disillusioning. And now I am spending time writing about it when I could be writing about something else.
At one hotel the owner was very worried about me leaving the air conditioning on when I went out of the room. Then I found another hotel where the price was about half the price of that one yet they didn't bother me about leaving the air conditioning on.
At one hotel I saw a rat running around the restaurant floor and then duck into a hole under the counter. This caused me to lose my appetite for that night. So far I have stayed at four places on or near Jaksa. Tonight I will try another one which seems to have a lot of young travelers from Europe, Japan, etc.
|today i visited the school again.
it went really well. everyone was laughing and even screaming with laughter sometimes.
the teacher was really relaxed. they don't hit the people there like they do in malaysia, singapore, usa and other places. or at least the english teacher doesn't hit them. i have never been to a school where the people were laughing so much and so free.
i told them how america is so materialistic, hypocritical and not free. and how the british killed 90 percent of the aboriginals, and how the whites treated the blacks in south africa.
of course they weren't laughing at those things. but i also told them funny things. i told them why i wasn't religious. they were shocked to hear i had no religion. in indonesia every one must declare a religion. they can pick christian, hindu, buddhist, catholic and islam but on their ID cards they have to pick one of the above. they have no option for freethinker or atheist or agnostic or wicca or whatever.
so i explained why i had no religion. i told them as i travel around the world i listen to all people telling me their religion is the best and the right one and all others are wrong there fore the people are bad. i said that children don't care about what religion i am (or how much money i have of how i dress). adults care about these things and they start to believe i am a different religion i am bad. so if i am bad then it is okay to kill me. they were listening very carefully. and the teacher was agreeing with me though he was muslim.
later the teacher introduced me to about 5 students who either have no parents or their parents have no job. this means they can't pay the school fees.
now i am someone who hates school - most schools anyhow - as much as anyone u will ever meet but i am crying now because those students -mostly around 14-15 years old, told me they wanted to stay in school. their friends wanted them to stay. and i want them to stay. so i am going to do what i can to help them. they need about 9 US dollars a month each to stay in school. i will sponsor some of them myself and i will find a way to raise money and i will give them some work to do.
this is the first time i have really seen how i can make a very very real difference in someone's life - well i know i have made a difference in some ppl's lives, but this is bigger or something.
there are multi national companies here with people getting paid salaries of thousands of dollars a month. it is crazy to me that 11 students at this school have to be afraid of getting thrown out because they can't pay the school fees. people tell me things like "you can't help everyone. true. but i can help a few people. and people will be surprised when they see what else i can do.
|Jan 12, 2004
It is about 2:00 AM now. I have been awake for about an hour. I think of the comment from someone in Indonesia last month: "Night is the time for sleeping" and I feel resentful. It would not still bother me as much if she were not studying to be a teacher. It is really frightening to me that people like this are allowed into teaching and will have so much control, influence and power over so many young people. The resentment is higher than I would like it to be. Higher than I think is healthy for me or helpful for our species.
Today I got a ride from a tuk-tuk driver who spoke English well. He said his children were going to so and so school which is supposed to be the "best" school here (even though they evidently have the most fights and drug use). He also knew that people spoke French in Quebec and he knew the capital of Canada was Ottawa. He seemed to be someone who valued learning so I offered to come to his house and say hello to his children and practice English with them a little. He asked how much I would charge and I said nothing. Having his kids at the elite school has obviously trained him to think that everyone does things for money, because I am sure that there are lots of private tutors etc. in that social circle. He didn't understand why I was offering to do it and probably most people who only think about money don't either. But let's not be unfair to the people who only think about money. Let's include the people who think about things like appearances and getting high grades on exams, and basically everything else that our dysfunctional society values. lol. I feel a little resentful, but I had a pretty good day, and have had more of my needs met in Thailand since I got here, so I don't feel so so resentful. That should be so, so resentful. Not: so-so resentful! Just in case anyone is reading this who is not a native English speaker. (Which I hope is the case since I doubt I will have much influence on anyone who was born to speak English. But then again what's his name - Michael Moore - has influenced a lot of people from his own country and in other English speaking countries, so maybe I shouldn't underestimate myself -- like everyone else has done since I was born *he says with some resentment*)
So with some help from someone who speaks English a bit more than the driver, we agreed I would go to his house. It was the first Thai house I have been invited into. While there I met someone who told me she had a foreign exchange student stay with her from the AFS program. That is the same program my sister was on when I was about 15 or 16 years old. She taught me to say nung song som si ha and I never forgot it! So I just had to learn 6 and up once I got here! lol. So thanks for that, Pat. lol
Now this thing about the exchange student reminds me of this teacher here who told me that Thai people don't invite others into their homes. In just a few minutes she told me so many things which aren't even true! I felt so discouraged after talking to her. I could just imagine what she does to children. She said no to just about everything I talked to her about that day. And she didn't show any empathy for me, and in fact invalidated my feelings. She was basically trying to prove to me that my feelings weren't logical! I will probably write more about that sometime, but for now I will just say that she also told me that in Thailand you don't touch people. But I have been touching people just about everyday and I see others touching people every day too!
I see females touching males, males touching females, females touching females, and males touching males. I really resent people telling me these kinds of things and trying to perpetuate cultural traditions that don't even make sense and are not healthy. It is healthy to hug and touch!!!! I want to scream it out to the young people here and in Malaysia, where I was told more than once that a female can't even shake a male's hand because of their religious beliefs. One of the most irrational things I have been told though since I left Australia in July was that it is impolite to collect papers with your left hand! lol. This was in Indonesia, by a 19 year old who was studying in a university to be a teacher! I asked the highschool students about it and they laughed. There is a little more to the story which I might find and post someday, but for now I will leave it at that. But a main thing I want to point out is that between the ages of 14 and 19 people go from laughing at things like this, to actually believing them and then spreading them. But I didn't stop collecting the papers with my left hand. I didn't start doing it to be defiant or rebellious, but I felt rebellious and defiant as soon as I heard that it was "impolite." This is one of the way way way overused words in the countries I have visited so far. And it is a very poor explanation for anything, as I hope this example shows!
A quick note on males touching males - While at one school I saw a teaching assistant tell a young male not to lean his friend. The teacher had student A stand up and try to answer a question. He obviously felt very nervous and unsure. He literally was leaning on his friend's shoulder. For some reason, the assistant told him not to. I wonder why? Does she believe it is just "wrong"? Is it "impolite"? Is it against Thai culture? Is it "inappropriate?" Does she think it looks "gay"? I wonder what explanation she would give me. Or what non-explanation I might say because I seriously doubt she would give me a reasonable one. I also wonder who came up with the idea that people were not supposed to touch each other. I was raised with this sick belief. I wonder whether it came from the German or British type mentality where you have to be strong and independent all the time. I wonder if some unhappy authority figures in a school somewhere wanted to make things harder for the students answering questions by forcing them to "stand alone." I am very sensitive to asking someone to stand up or come to the front of the room. I won't force a young person to do it if they really don't want to. At the same time I do want to help build their confidence and teach them it is not so dangerous to stand up or come to the front of the room. I try to always say thank you when they stand up for me or come to the front. Afterall, they are helping me out in accomplishing something I wanted to see happen. Why should I just expect them to obey me like most teachers do? I am so opposed to this kind of thinking. These are real people with real feelings. I don't care how old they are, they still have feelings. Actually, I do care how old they are, the younger they are the more emotionally sensitive they are so the more important it is that I note how they are feeling.
I am feeling sad about K. I want to see her again but it hurts me too much to think about what she is doing and may have already done and may be doing in the near future. I want to "rescue" her. I want her to work with me instead of doing what she is doing for money. I offered my help once and she rejected it. She said "Thank you very much." But she has not called me since then. Several females here have seemed very friendly to me, then just stopped calling me. This hurts. It hurts more because I don't understand. I wonder if there are some people who don't feel any pain when they can't understand something. I wonder if we are evolving to be more sensitive to the pain of not understanding, or less sensitive to it and to killing each other. If we are evolving to be less sensitive to killing each other, then it is not evolution but a course of suicide we are on.
Note: I remembered tonight that there were only 4
people at the English club last week. This gives more
support for my belief that the club is not much fun. With
so many people wanting to learn English, I am surprised
that not more students would want take advantage of a
chance to get some extra practice. Another bit of info,
what is called a tidbit of information for any non-native
speakers: The teacher who is running the English club was
the favorite English teacher among about 6, according to
a student I know at the school. If this is the favorite
teacher and there are still only 4 students going to the
English club meetings... well you can finish the thought
So the two "Christians" had just recently been converted. I asked why and because it felt good to pray and because when they pray "God" would give them anything they wanted.
One asked if knew about Jesus. Now I don't put his
name in quotes because I believe a person by that name
probably did exist at one point. But he died and stayed
dead, and will continue to stay dead, like all the rest
of us will! lol So anyhow, I said yes, I knew a lot about
him because I lived many years in the usa and they were
many "christians" there and they were always
telling me about him.
Also, found some writing from Sept. 30 in Jakarta. I read it and it sounded pretty good so I am posting it now. And I just made a file which will link some of my older writing. You can get there from the previous writing link below. Now I will go back to sleep. It is about 4 and I am going to one of the schools in the morning. Oh, this reminds me. One day at a school I told a teacher who asked how I was that I was sleepy so I was going home to take a nap. He said something like "There is a saying that people who sleep during the day are lazy." Now I don't know why he said that but I felt judged. He said it with a smile. This is the kind of very subtle judgment that I used to get from some of my relatives - the ones who didn't judge me more directly! lol He didn't tell me how he felt about me going to take a nap and I didn't ask him. But maybe I will the next time. I am really sick of people "getting away" with judging me and others like this. They make these little comments that are so difficult to argue with. They don't take responsibility for their own views. They say things like "There is a saying that people who...." But they don't say, "I feel judgmental of people who sleep during the day. And I feel superior to them because I don't sleep during the day. I sleep during the night. Because night is the time for sleeping. lol I suppose this teacher and the future teacher in Indonesia would get along well. Which just reminds me why I doubt I will ever be paid as a teacher in "normal" type school. As long as I am just visiting they have very little power over me. I come and go when I want. lol. Suits me to a T. (For non-native speakers: An expression which means it matches my personality and my needs perfectly!)
Jan 12 - On the way to a school. I don't feel very motivated to go. Maybe writing will help. I had somewhat of a nightmare last night. It left me with a bad feeling this morning. I had a dream that my mother was going to hit me. She held back her hand in a fist and said "I will knock that smile off of your face." I said, "Go ahead, hit me. Do it while everyone is watching so they will see how you really are." There was more to it, but that was the main thing.
Now I am passing the "International Business School." It gives me a sick feeling. It is expensive to go there. So the richer families can afford to send their kids there. I am so tired of seeing how the world of business works. In the malls people sit there alone waiting for customers in the shops. For example, at the Diana mall there is a large area of cosmetics products which you have to pass to get to most of the rest of the mall. If you want to go to the supermarket, for example, the main way is through the cosmetics area. In this area there are about 20 females sitting waiting for customers. Yesterday most of them were just sitting there with a blank look on their faces. One was doing something with a calculator and one was unpacking inventory. Most of them were sitting alone. They are too spread out to talk to one another. Of course, they all had a lot of make up on and were needlessly over-dressed. The other night I went to the bowling alley in the basement.
bif - the cell phone girls at the mall....
`Now I am at the school.
A dog walks through the cafeteria as I am typing. Then something comes over the loudspeaker. Someone has decided to put some music on. It sounds like a bad copy of a cassette tape. I wonder who decides what music to put on. Again I see there is little respect for individuality. Everyone now must listen to the same music. If someone is trying to concentrate on some thinking or writing, as I am, what can they do? These places are too much like factories. They just put people through the same machinery every year and try to get the same products to come out at the end. People who will be able to fit into the system when they get out.
The students are so different from one another. Some take my hand tightly when I shake it and some are afraid to touch it. There is no big difference between males and females.
Trying to decide what to write here. How honest to be.... If someone in a school reads this they might not let me come visit their school. But if I am not honest
|Sep 30 - (Jakarta)
Yesterday I was very depressed. Went to university and met someone who was going to watch a film. I followed her to the auditorium and stayed for about an hour. The first twenty minutes or so were advertisements for other films. I don't know why people accept this kind of thing. They just sit there. Why don't they get up and leave? I suspect this idea of showing previews of other movies started in the USA. I feel very cynical about the culture there. I don't want to see other countries continue to follow in the same path. But anyhow, the film was called Iris. There was even a preview of it in the middle of the other previews. Maybe that was so you wouldn't get up and leave. Why don't people go up to the film operator and say "When does the real film start? I will come back then." I didn't do that myself. But maybe the next time I will. It has been a long time since I saw a movie in a theatre. It probably will be a long time before I see one again. The film Iris looked good. But it didn't live up to my expectations. It tried to make you believe it was about important things like freedom and education. In the preview there was a quote that said "education doesn't make you happy. Freedom doesn't make you happy...." I agreed with this and expected them to eventually say something very profound about happiness. But after watching for about one hour I decided they were never going to say anything very profound. The movie kept jumping around. Going from the past to the present. It mostly was about how Iris was losing her mind. It was dramatic, but if there was a really important message, I guess I missed it. It tried to show that Iris was an independent woman. A woman not afraid to speak her mind. Not afraid to challenge the conventional norms. It let you think maybe she was a lesbian or bisexual in a time when this was more taboo.
But anyhow, I went to the university to try to find some volunteers. I got distracted. By a girl who calls herself a Christian. I don't want to call anyone any names like Christian or Muslim. If people want to call themselves that, there is not much I can do about it, except try to educate them. But I don't want to call them such names because to me they are all humans. Each label divides us. We need more unity in the world, not more divisions. If someone asks me if I believe in "God" I think I will just say I believe in children. It is sad that you have to be evasive, but you do I guess. Or people will judge you and reject you based on their classification of you. Fabio told me yesterday when we chatted that he met someone in Kuala Lampor Malaysia who was very smart and spoke English perfectly, but because he was not a Muslim he was discriminated against. I have heard this before so I believe it. Fabio said the guy is now homeless and has been told that the police are going to take all the homeless people 15 kilometers out of the city for a week because there is some kind of international meeting in KL. The same kind of thing is happening in Bankok. They are moving all the homeless people, beggars, prostitutes etc. and spending a lot of money to temporarily "clean up" the city to make it look better for the foreign visitors. This kind of thing really disgusts me. Fabio said they will be talking a lot about poverty in the meetings, yet they don't want to see the poor people. Fabio is easily one of the smartest people I have ever met. Smart when it comes to seeing through hypocrisy. Like Sarah, who is a genius in this regard. I told Fabio I felt discouraged because I keep getting rejected but he said to keep fighting. He said for him it just makes him try harder when people reject his ideas. I hope Sarah will also keep fighting. But I don't like the word "fighting." Just persisting. Not giving up.
I was thinking about how I so often want to just give up. Then this morning I wondered why that is even an option. I don't consider hitting children as an option. Or using violence to force someone else to do something. It is just not an option. Why is giving up an option? Where did I learn that it was an option? Where did Sarah learn to say things like "I just want to die." What if giving up were not an option? What if suicide were not an option? What if hitting a child was not an option? What if threatening a child was not an option?
So maybe I will try to eliminate giving up from my options. It never really was an option. But.... sometimes I get so discouraged. But why? Why do I get so discouraged when I have so many things in my favor? I have freedom, or I think I do. But do I have freedom of the mind as the movie said. That was one of the only useful things it said, it reminded me that freedom of the mind is the only freedom that matters. But that is not actually true. If you have freedom of the mind but are locked up and not fed you will die no matter what your beliefs are. You might thing you will go to a nice place when you die, but you will still die. I don't believe in nice places or bad places after one dies. I am afraid to say that here. Yesterday I was talking to a couple travel agents. Somehow we got on the topic of religion. When I told them what I believe they didn't want to talk to me anymore. So maybe when people ask something like whether I believe in "God", I wil say, "How would you feel if I said yes and how would you feel if I said no?" lol.
It is nice to write. To not have to go anywhere or do anything. I feel a little obligated to help some people, like the ones who lost their homes in the fire and the ones at school and the homeless boys like Budi and his friends, but I guess I will give myself permission to not feel responsible for them. I will give myself permission to change my mind. People say "But you said...." Yes it is true, I did say that. But I have changed my mind. How do you feel about it? If they tell me how they feel and I listen they will feel better. I can't help everyone financially. But I can help them by listening. And by caring. I guess I am more caring than most people. I wonder why. Nature and nurture I suppose. Sometimes I really don't want to care so much. I get taken advantage of. I get hurt. I get rejected, used. I get mocked, disapproved of. It hurts. I sometimes I wish I had some imaginary being that I could turn to, that I could pray to. But I would feel hypocritical. No one is listening. At least I don't think anyone is. No one but Amy. Amy my amygdala. She is my guide, but not my god. She doesn't make a lot of silly rules. She doesn't tell me I must wear certain kinds of clothes or put a certain kind of little hat on my head. The people who think little hats are important won't like me saying that. But the children would understand. Children don't care if I wear a little hat on my head or if I cover my knees. Here there are many people who think it is wrong to show your knees. But I think this is changing. The young people here are starting to question things. In some ways I believe it is good they learn English so they can talk to foreigners and watch foreign films. But I am also afraid they will look up to people like Britney Spears and J Lo, as some of the teenage girls do -- many in fact. The other day at school I saw a notebook belonging to one of the girls. There were pictures of Britney, J Lo and Eminem. The girl who owned the notebook turned out to be one who calls herself a Muslim and who wears a headscarf. I wonder what she would be like if she spent a year in Holland, for example, or France. What if she spent a year in Australia or the USA. I have talked to several people who had problems when they went abroad and had freedom, then came home to controlling parents.
Today I talked to some parents who were waiting for their kids to come out of kindergarten. They parents seem to just sit there and talk to each other the whole 3 hours the kids are in school. There were about ten parents. One spoke English well. He used to work for Compaq repairing computers. The the office closed. I asked why. He said "maybe bad management." I asked if the children were learning English. They said no. They just learn Indonesian and Arabic. I thought that it would be better for them to learn English. But I am not completely sure. If they learn English they might pick up too many of the unhealthy American/British/Australian attitudes. By attitudes I mean beliefs and feelings. They might become cynical, sarcastic, materialistic. They might pick up unhealthy values like appearances.
This morning I also went back to the homes that were burnt. I decided to tell them that I want to help them but that I need some help myself. I need some help typing for example. I also need some help with my mail. My inbox has been full again and I want someone to help me clean it out. I don't want to just give money to people. And I especially don't want to just give it to organizations. I gave some money to a father named ... well I won't say the name. But I went back to see if one of his daughters might want to do some typing for me. He seemed to understand what I wanted and asked one of the daughters, but she didn't look interested at all. She seemed to be more interested in her clothes, hair and make up. I feel a little judgmental, it's true. I am thinking that it is sad if your home has been burnt and you are not willing to do some work to help out. Also I already gave the family some money. And only the father seems to appreciate it. I am afraid it sounds shallow of me but I don't want to help people who don't appreciate it. One of my unmet needs is to feel appreciated. I would rather not have this unmet need, but that is a little like saying I would rather not be hungry when in fact I am hungry. So I guess I will just admit that I have a need to feel appreciated. It is risky to say that though because if someone learns that I have this need they might try to manipulate me by showing false appreciation. But maybe false appreciation is better than none. lol.
I miss having intelligent people who would laugh at my little jokes. People like my special brainy friend in England. Yesterday I was thinking of her a lot during the film since it was a British film. And in one of the previews there was the song "I will remember you, will you remember me" She used to say she never forgets people, but I feel forgotten. Now I am suddenly very sad. Very discouraged. So I ask Amy what should I do. She says there is nothing you can do. Except maybe send my friend an email. Just telling her I am thinking of her. Or maybe suggesting she read this. She can't hurt us too much more than she already has. I think of Budi and Fabio. They are both persisitent. Budi must get rejected 50 or more times everynight when he askes if he can shine someone's shoes. He will make a good salesman someday, a good manager. He has so much potential. He will probably have his own business one day. He doesn't need school to start a little restaurant or something. The myth of education is so over-promoted. The kids at the highschool waste so much time and energy. Many of them want to have their own businesses and could have them by now. Even the smallest little "lemonade stand" is a business. There is so much unused potential there. Some boys want to have a motorcycle business. Some want to have a restaurant. Some want to do marketing. Why isn't anyone helping them get started? Some girls want to have a beauty salon. Yesterday I saw a man cutting hair on the sidewalk. There is nothing stopping these young people from doing something like that. Only their beliefs are stopping them. The headmasters in both schools (there are two schools using the same building - morning and after noon schools) seem pretty open to me helping the students start some businesses. But so far it has been so hard - mostly because I don't speak the language. But one student, Wisnu, has helped me. He understands English very well. I need one or two more like him from somewhere.
I need to keep telling people what I need and what I want to do. Mike Wickett said if you tell people what your dream is, they will help you. I believe this is mostly true. Some will discourage you and tell you all the reasons you can't do it and why it won't work and why it is impossible, so you just don't talk to them. You just move on. There have been some negative people here. Some people have also lied to me and deceived me. So I am just avoiding them. They try to be my friend but they are false friends. So far I have been conned or tricked or manipulated by about 4 or 5 people. That is not so many really compared to all the nice people.
Today I found out that there is a room with air conditioning at the Bloomsteen Hostel. I will go there tomorrow night I think to check it out. See how many mosquitoes there are in the room. There is a frame for a mosquito net. Maybe they can loan me one. I also talked to Mahfubin, one of the staff there. He said a friend speaks English and Indonesian. So slowly I am meeting people that can help me. I think Budiono is the name of the manager at the hostel - and also the friend that Mahfubin talked about. Opik also works there. These names are hard for me to remember! Or even pronounce! It doesn't look like Bloomsteen has a web page. Almost no businesses here have web pages. One of my ideas is to have the students make web pages. I have so many ideas. I don't want to give up on them. This is a diry, smelly, hot crowded place, but there is a lot keeping me here. lol. The smell is really disgusting sometimes. So are the flies over the garbage on the street and sidewalks. I've never seen so much garbage and rotten food laying around.
Today at the kindergarten I bought something like a popsicle from a mother. She makes them at home. This is one example of how people have little businesses. In a country like the USA this would be illegal. 95 percent or 99 percent of the businesses here would be illegal because they wouldn't meet health department regulations. I also found out that the street vendors buy water for 1,000 rupiah. this is about 12 cents. For this, you get either one or two buckets of water. I am not sure which. Evidently a man comes around pushing a cart with plastic buckets of water and selling them. No wonder no one is washing down the streets. Not if you have to pay for water. I thought that it would be nice if the fire department would use their hoses on the street to wash away all the rotten food. People sweep the steets with brooms made of twigs but it doesn't clean up the smell. It is really disgusting. It is hard to believe that a main tourist steet like Jaksa could be so filthy and smelly. But what I wanted to say was that when I unwrapped the frozen mango juice stick I asked what I should do with the rubber band which sealed the plastic bag. The man said throw it on the ground. lol. I didn't want to do that. I deliberately made a point of asking about this, btw. lol. So eventually they showed me there was a trask can right next to them, just out of my view behind a wall. I could almost reach it from where I was sitting it was so close. And it was in plain sight of the man who told me to throw the rubber band on the ground. Now my little rubber band might not have made that much difference to the over all level of trash on the street, but it made an impression on the mothers that I didn't want to throw it on the ground. They said something to each other and I could tell they admired this. Then they talked about how clean Singapore is and how dirty Indonesia is. The man had been to Singapore. So in small ways I try to set an example. Quietly, but deliberately -- or at least sometimes deliberately and intentionally. Other times I just do what I feel comfortable doing. Like when I laid on the grass with my shirt off last week and the reporter took a picture of it. I mostly just wanted to be more comfortable. I was hot and I was cooler with my shirt off. The teenagers understand this. They don't judge me for it, not many of them at least. I think what happens is that when they become parents they get more rigid because now they become authority figures to someone less powerful. When they tell their children this is what you do and don't do, they start to believe it themselves.
I would like to change the world in a big way. But maybe I will have to be content with changing it in very small ways. Then I won't feel so stressed, so overwhelmed, so responsible, so frustrated, so impatient, so judgmental. Now I guess I will go back to the school. Or to the new clothing shop called Fiction which has some alternative type clothes. A shop Sarah would like. Maybe I will get her a tshirt there. Like the one that says "665 - I live next to the Devil" lol. The owners of the shop are young, in their early twenties. They just started the shop without any licenses. They said later they will get a letter of permission from the district mayor or someone. But it seems incredibly easy to start your own business here. So I am even more convinced the school students could be doing it. And I am convinced it would be better for them than sitting in the classroom, where many times the teacher doesn't show up because they are not getting paid enough to make it worth their time. When I was in uni at Indiana U. we would leave if the teacher didn't show up after waiting 15 minutes. But here the students hang around the class or go down and play basketball or soccer. They don't leave the school. I think they could if they wanted. But I think they are afraid to even though they wouldn't really be punished much probably. And I also think they like to be with their friends. They don't seem to form small groups. They seem to stay in large groups. They don't like to leave one person behind for example. The day about 8 of them left the school to spend the morning with me they wouldn't leave until all of them were ready to go. I wanted one student to stay and type but they wouldn't leave without him.
Yet on the same day I did see a sign of individuality. One student didn't like what we were doing so he went home very early. I am sure some adults would have "reported" him to the school authorities, but I figure it was his choice. Maybe he even went back to school. I really don't know. They seemed to like the morning out of school, but later I heard that some didn't like it. They are not very emotionally honest here. They will lie so they won't hurt others feelings. And they will lie to their parents too so they won't get lectured to or punished. One girl lost her cell phone and she is lying to her mother, saying it just isn't working. Someone else is lying to his mother about something, though he is being honest to his father. To me there is a real problem when your children are afraid to tell you the truth. And when they are afraid to be emotionally honest. They don't have the same rigid social rules like England for example, but there are still too many for my preference. Some students said it was "not polite" that I wore shorts to class, for example. The other night I talked to one of the students. She was wearing very short shorts. I didn't even notice till we had talked for a long time. I told her the story about "In God we trust". This is about the person that told me Indonesia now has something like this on its money since the USA puts this on its bills. She said that this is the reason the USA economy has done so well. So some people in the Indonesian government think that if they put this on their money, the Indonesian economy will do well also. I asked the student if she believed this. To my relief, she said no. lol There were some other people sitting there too and no one else believed it either. So that was encouraging.
This reminds me of the issue of cause and effect. A more advanced society does a better job of understanding the relationship between these two. For example, does writing something on your money cause the economy to prosper? If so then this would imply we could all sit around and do nothing and just wait for the economy to improve. Or does something else cause the economy to do well? If so, what is it that causes a prosperous economy? In the film they said, "Education does not make one happy" yet people in most places around the world, no matter how "advanced" they are, seem to believe that education does make one happy because it makes one "suceessful" and thereby happy. A=B and B=C. So A=C.
For those of you who are not good at math, like my friend Sarah, A = education, B= Success and C= Happiness. But I have learned that A does not = B and B does not = C, nor does A=C. This is one of the major myths of our current society. Another myth is that the "war against terrorism" will stop violent expressions of resentment and hatred. This makes no more sense than having a "war against violence." But no one is interested in my opinion. Or so it seems sometimes. So now I have to decide what to do. Do I go to sleep, go to see my friend at Fiction to see if he will help me talk to the people who lost their homes or go to the school? I will lay down and think about it! lol.
ok - i decided to go to the school.
now I am at the school - the students from the morning school did not have to wear their uniforms. it was so nice to see them expressing their individuality in their own clothes.