Blog, Thoughts

A Citizen's Duty

As citizen of a nation and of the world, we have responsibilities. One of them is to make ourselves first to prosper, not to become permanent burden for others, and then to help the less fortunate, starting from the nearest ones till those who live at the other side of the world.

I will share a simple thought about the way we, as a citizen of the world, shall spend our money to help the needy first that will in turn help ourselves as well.

A few years after the Asian economic crisis in 1997-1998, other countries were quickly recovered from the disaster, but Indonesia remained in serious trouble.

After 32 years living under a repressive government, people were in ecstasy getting the fresh air. They were no longer afraid of making statements or comments about anything, and use all type of media. No restrictions. The results were chaos. This situation contributed to the prolonged economic, social and security crisis.

So many people complained about the situation, the worsening corruption, the incompetent government, the highly unstable exchange rate, and about many more big to trivial things. People were frustrated, and many people lost their dignity as Indonesians. Unfortunately Indonesians did very little to help the ailing country, so were its neighbors. There was no genuine strong leader either that could unite the people towards one common goal.

At one time I told friends that we have so many complainers but so few contributors.
So I told myself to stop complaining, and start contributing more to the poor country.

Before the crisis, when I flew abroad to attend company's meetings, I flew Singapore Airlines, all the times. After the crisis, I used Garuda. Why? It was not because my company didn't allow me to use SQ, but it was more about my conscience.

One day I was having lunch with an associate in Singapore when he asked me what airline I used, and my answer was of course Garuda. Then he started telling me his friend’s bad experience when flying Garuda. There were delayed flight schedules, low service level, etc. He asked me why I didn’t use SQ.

I told him that I wanted to help Garuda, and Indonesian economy in general. If bad things happened, I’d accept it and consider my sacrifice as part of my contribution. I reduced my spending in Singapore and in other countries as well. I told him that Singapore is a more prosperous country and SIA is the best airlines in the world, so I decided to help the poor country and the local airline first. Later, I told him, I don’t mind spending money in Singapore or other countries and using SQ or other foreign airliners when things getting better with Indonesian economy and with Garuda’s operation.

If I were you (as a Singaporean) I said, I’d use Garuda and spend my money in Jakarta. If Indonesia was able to recover its economic engine faster, Singapore would surely get benefit. Unfortunately there were only few foreigners had such a noble thought, and a lot fewer who actually did it. Instead, many of them took advantage of the prolonged crisis, and even worsened the situation.

In crisis situation I spent almost 100% of my money to help local economy. After things getting better, I gradually increased my spending to help foreign economy by using foreign services, buying imported products, and spending money abroad.

We live in a more sensitive and complex world. By helping each other, there will be less jealousy and prejudice between people in neighboring countries, and this will bring prosperity in the region and eventually the world. While it may sound like a utopia now, but life always sways from extremely good to extremely bad conditions, from heaven to hell. So, don’t lose hope. Every single, big or small, contribution matters.

, seorang pejalan musiman dan penyuka sejarah. Penduduk Jakarta yang sedang tinggal di Cikarang Utara. Diperbarui: September 24, 2006.

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