Yesterday, Lynda Ibrahim wrote an interesting article in Jakarta Post to defend us the Indonesian middle class. I respect her as well as her opinion. But I am afraid she missed the point.
I can see the way Tempo wrote the cover story about middle class somehow reduce the middle class into some shallow hedonic creatures. In this, Lynda provided a very good reminder on how much this middle class has contributed to the wealth of nation. I am sure, Tempo or other cynical eyes cannot argue with this fact. One for Lynda. Nil for the cynics.
However, the main issue is not about what the middle class has done. It is more on what the middle class is expected to do but refuse.
We, the middle class can get away with any stupid things that government do. Lousy public transportation? We have our cars. Ridiculous public health services? We can afford to go to expensive medical services. Low quality education? Let’s send our kids aboard. The list goes on.
But with these behaviors, are we doing our country a favor?
In surface, we might say yes. We drive the economy by creating enterprises, which are supposedly government job. We create jobs and provide needed services. Where is the harm?
It turns out that in this “silent” process we help the incompetence/ evil government to rob the poor. To deny their rights as human, let alone as citizen. Don’t get me wrong. I am not socialist. In fact, I am a hardcore liberal. But there must be certain standard of government services where ones can still keep their dignity. Look at all public services (which we refuse to use). Do they treat the “customers” humanly? And we let this happen. Mostly because it won’t affect us.
We let it happen by thinking that’s not our jobs. We pay our taxes. That should be end of our obligation as citizen.
I know Lynda Ibrahim. She does put an effort to make a better Indonesian. She represents a minority of middle class or actually upper class who cares. But where are others? As numbers we are quite big. As economical power we are substantial. But we let incompetence people are elected everyday as our governors and city majors because we think it is not our job and won’t affect us anyway. Sad?
This is what one of the columnist in Tempo described as the selfish behavior of middle class. I agree with it and won’t defend.
Lynda on the other hand, refuses this label. She insists that when it comes to politics, we need to treat the middle class as teenager. I like her metaphor, teenager. It has strong association toward immaturity, fearfulness, yet full of idealism. I do have concerns with this metaphor, though. For me, it sounds that politics (for Lynda) is still not the responsibility of the middle class.
In my opinion:
Politics is our responsibility as the middle class. We have failed to carry out this social obligation. In effect, we have let our poor suffer due to our ignorance. Together, let’s change our attitude toward politics.
How is that?