Yesterday my father asked me whether it was possible for me to talk about independence day from youth perspective in the neighborhood meeting (some places have the tradition of tirakatan a night before August 17, taken from the root word of tirakat which means to suffer, or to concern? In tirakatan, people will contemplate, in this case, about the meaning of independence). Eventually my brother would do it, because first, he is a male (I know, I know, hate me, Feminist. Our tirakatan this time was located in our new mushalla. So the speaker will be speaking where imam is usually spotted), and second, because I think he is a better speaker than I am. But anyway, thinking about my dad’s request, I had the difficulties to talk about independence day, what am I going to contemplate about? Of course I think about being grateful, like, without the sacrifices from all the patriots, we would’ve been still under the Dutch or Japan colonialization, I wouldn’t be able to go to school and my dad and my brother would probably be taken as romusha. But what is beyond that?
I don’t know if I can talk behalf of my generation, but as a person who was born 45 years after the independence, I have the difficulties to contemplate about the meaning of independence. Why? Because I was born with it. When I was a baby, I and everyone else were already granted the Indonesian citizenship and full rights as citizens. We use Indonesian currency, Indonesian man sitting as a president, we didn’t try to take this land from other countries’ hand. This is our land, our nation, and our country, and I take it just like that, for granted.
Youth, through the history of Indonesia, or probably the history of many other civilization, has been playing a very important role within the society. Our independence, for example, would not be achieved without the ‘reckless act’ of the youth. Chairul Saleh, Wikana and Soekarni ‘kidnapped’ Soekarno and Hatta to protect them from Japan’s influence and at the same time to persuade them to proclaim the independence as soon as possible. We also know Soe Hok Gie, whom the thoughts were very critical, original and bright. Soeharto regime was thrown, one of them was because the movement of university students. I am a young woman and I go to university. I should’ve meant something. I am one of the very few who is fortunate enough to go to college. It should’ve led somewhere.
Since I went to college, I no longer have the responsibility to join a flag ceremony. So I guess I have no symbolical activities to value the independence. But August 17 itself is a reminder, no matter how apathy I am, this date will always come around every year and it will make me, at least, thinking about how am I going to value independence. It will remind me on what steps should I take as an independent person who has the absolute bless, to be born 45 years after the patriots took huge and risky steps to create an independence nation.
August 17 2012