There is one safeguard known generally to the wise, which is an advantage and security to all, but especially to democracies as against despots. What is it? Distrust - Dorothy Thompson
Entry #12321-1: Another soul has rested in peace, in the name of democracy. Another descendant of Adam and Eve has fallen as victim, in the name of democracy. When subjects turn barbaric, they are even more violent than a pack of starving wolves. They even dare to prey on their own pack leader, the alpha male. A similar incident happened recently in North Sumatera, when a group of people demanding for a new province (somewhat similar to a state, here in the U.S.) has caused the death of the Province Chief of the People Representative Board, (Alm.) Mr. Abdul Aziz Angkat. The chief is suspected to be attacked to death by participants and was even previously held hostage. Recent followups suggest that people are blaming the lack of security that causes this incident. In my view, this implies that such anarchist democracy practice is permissible, and it is the duty of security guards alone to prevent such incident. I argue that this phenomenon is a manifestation of a misunderstood democracy, and hence all elements of the social system are to be blamed. But then again, is this how democracy supposed to function? What makes subjects take over absolute power in such violent manner?
What Went Wrong? Ever since the fall of the late former President Soeharto in May 1998, Indonesia has since misunderstood the concept of democracy. In my view, Indonesia is, and still is, learning the gist of democracy. And the result is, however, the rise of many demonstrations whose agenda ranges from one that truly represents and conveys voices of subjects to one whose participants just want to appear on mass media and create social sensation. By all mean, I do not intend to dispose the political system of Indonesia which I personally believe have successfully progressed. I applaud the government and his subjects for their effort. The problem lies within the subjects, who are learning democracy by hands on experience (learning by doing) rather by proper education and socialization. As a result, people seem to perceive that democracy means demonstration, an organized form of protest by a group of people. But the government is also to blame for his incapability to control his subjects.
I Would Like to Request for an Audience with His Majesty: A Historical View In the past, during medieval times when monarchy is the only known governmental system, government, particularly the sovereign, owns the absolute power to control his subjects. However, absolute power tends to bring out greed and lust for money and power and is thus abolished or, if not, undermined to certain extent such as that practiced by the United Kingdom and many other existing monarchical nations.
In comparison to the focal issue of this essay, monarchy has successfully controlled its subjects and guaranteed security for the government. Subjects (are forced to) abide to regulations and etiquette on how to greet, to meet, and to express their voices and opinions to the sovereign. Almost all monarchies allow for personal "meet and greet" between each subject and sovereign, whereby the mechanism dictates that a subject request for a formal audience with the King (or the Reigning Queen) and the King is to address all concerns the subject expresses. During the late 18th century in France, however, the practice had been diverted whereby sovereign held audiences only with nobles and ignored voices of commoners; thus infusing the French Revolution in 1789.
Today's practice of audience between government and subjects has been enhanced to a more justified method that allows for all elements within a social system to be heard.. This is a result of the ideology of equal opportunity. Democracy is said to be "from people to people." I view that democracy is a manifestation of energy transfer within and between social systems and thus can be controlled and even be manipulated.
A Social System: Democracy as a Manifestation of Energy Indonesia is, like any other nation, a social system which is "organized by a characteristic pattern of relationships." And as a system, Indonesia consists of a variety of persons, families, organizations, communities, societies, and cultures; all that define the notion of subjects, or agents as do many sociologists opt to define. The social system theory, developed by Niklas Luhmann, posits that a "social structure is seen as comprising the relationships themselves, understood as patterns of causal interconnection and interdependence among agents and their actions, as well as the positions that they occupy"(Lopez & Scott 2000). Such causal interconnection and interdependence form what is believed to be relationship as well as energy. In essence, a social system generates transfers of energy or information, within and between persons or groups of persons in a social system.
This energy may appear in forms of 1) capacity for action, 2) action, and 3) power to affect change. I believe that the philosophical perspetives of democracy embody all such forms. Democracy encourages the capacity for action, democracy induces action, and democracy infuses power to affect change. The philosophical gist of democracy defines the possession of power by people, and thus abolishes the absolute power of a (small) group of subjects, which in the past is possessed by monarchs. In common practice, government, hence, is viewed as a group of subjects, as opposed to an overprivileged group of people such as those of monarchy, who represents the people. This is one form of democracy, which is called the representative democracy. Other forms include parliamentary, liberal, constitutional, socialist, meritocracy, etc. Despite its various forms, democracy stands on one definitive keyword, the people.
Disbelief and Violation of Trust: Demonstration and Its Chaotic Appearance Trust is a relationship of reliance. Trust is a mental state, which is intangible and thus cannot be measured directly; but the effect is visible. Trust is an important and integral idea of social influence, meaning that trust eases persuasion and influence of an individual who is trusting. Affection and respect are common results of when trust is successfully gained. When trust is violated, however, the trusting individual will definitely react negatively as a result of disappointment and it is very hard to regain trust from him (or her). In relation to the focal issue, when subjects begin to distrust government, they start to react to reinforce their concerns and will as far as replace the government which could turn into violence. This reaction almost always forms demonstration, however some reaction may be an assassination of a member of government in the worst scenario. In essence, almost all kinds of demonstration are triggered by distrust.
In my personal observation, there are three types of demonstration based on the intention of its participants and the amount of its participants. Such demonstrations include:
Demonstration that truly represents the voice of subjects. This type of demonstration can be bloody as it often turns violent. The mark of this demonstration is the amount of its participants, which is massively huge, and it is always sporadic and distributed everywhere within the social system. Every element of the social system initiates to voice his or her concern over, usually serious, issues that threaten the existence of the social system. In a political system, this type of demonstration marks the revolution of political paradigm. In essence, this demonstration is a clear manifestation of a loss of trust of subjects toward their government.
Demonstration that conveys certain specific, or even political, agenda. This type of demonstration is less likely to be violent since its participants are trying to retain the positive image of the (political) group (or party) they represent. The amount of its participants is much smaller compared to that of the first type of demonstration. For political purpose, these participants often derived from the opposing group and they tend to nay-say or refute any policy and regulation of their counterpart, which is the government. The opposing group can be seen to have lack of trust toward its counterpart but it can also strive to defame its counterpart. However, this type of demonstration does not always convey political agenda as it can be a demonstration by a small group of civilians addressing certain social issues such as raising safe-sex practice awareness to prevent STDs, stop-smoking campaign, peace in Gaza campaign. However, this social-issue type of demonstration can also be steered or organized (i.e. manipulated) by certain political party with hidden agenda. This type of demonstration is very common.
Unclear demonstration with no important agenda. The issues brought up are almost often unnecessary to the welfare of the social system. The participants are often those who just want to seek fame, create social sensation, and appear on TV. Most people are able to perceive and determine that such participants comprise of a very small group of people who have nothing better to do and just waste their time and energy marching the street, carrying pamphlets and boards.
What Can be Done?
The first type of demonstration is often very hazardous and the second type has the potential to be hazardous as well. It is the duty of all elements within the social system to ensure security and safety of their social system. Violence on the first type of demonstration is unavoidable since almost all elements within the social system react as a result of distrust while the government desperately counteracts to defend his authority. Although bloody demonstration seems to be unavoidable for the first type of demonstration, prevention and caution can be applied to the second type of demonstration. As a mere observing civilian and an outsider, I am incapable of determining the type of demonstration that happened recently in North Sumatera. However, I am personally certain that this demonstration can be categorized as the second type of demonstration based on its agenda and the amount of its participants within North Sumatera as a social system.
I contend that the government raises issues with demonstration and introduces more proper and civilized ways to express concerns and opinions. Government is indeed responsible to guarantee security, safety, and education of his subjects. As with many aspects of relationship within a social system, expressing concerns and opinions needs to be further regulated and violators need to be penalized. Often in practice, it is the outcome of the incident that is used for penalty, such as charging the ones responsible for death in this case. The regulation and etiquette for formal demonstration are there however they are not fully comprehensive and they are not sufficiently socialized among people. Such lack of awareness results in common perception that it is alright to march down the streets carrying pamphlets and boards whenever a group of individuals want to express their concerns and opinions. It is not sufficient to report your intention to demonstrate protests to local police station and to have security guards assist you while you are voicing your opinion! The government needs to raise awareness of the negative impacts of demonstration such as political and economic instability and distrust, horrendous traffic jam, business slowdown, etc.; all which are the lesser degree of negative impacts of demonstration. But most importantly, the government needs to raise awareness that democracy is not always equal to demonstration!
People need to be aware that there are other methods to voice their opinion and have their concern addressed by the government. But most importantly, people need to be rational and wise when they choose to march down the street. They need to consider the negative impacts that can inflict themselves, the opposing party, and many other civilians that have nothing to do with the agenda. Demonstration participants need to be highly organized and coordinated to avoid unintended third-party participants who wish to create instability (and obviously defame the agenda you're trying to express), and to ensure security and safety of themselves, the opposing party, and other civilians. Moreover, people need to be aware that demonstration should only be permissible if there is no other way to voice their concern. In other words, people should perceive demonstration as their final and desperate move to voice their opinion and concern when the opposing party, or the government, seems to be ridiculously stubborn. Other than that, demonstration is just a waste of time and energy that inflicts instability to the social system as a whole.
When you think you're starting to distrust your partner, negotiate with him in a rational and more civilized way. You cannot just march down the street every time there is an increase in the price of gas. You need to learn to trust the government, let the government do his job! It is our duty to ensure Indonesia to mature as a democratic nation.
RIP - Mr. Abdul Aziz Angkat
Lopez, J. and J. Scott (2000), Social Structure, Buckingham and Philadelphia: Open University Press.
Words, words, mere words, no matter from the heart - William Shakespeare Entry #11803-1: Pianissimo [It's 12:00 noon. These lazy eyes are staring at the window; staring at those yellowish and brownish leaves, which most of them have fallen. The gray sky gives a gloomy feeling and the road is dampened with few puddles here and there.]
Fall season is on its peak nowadays. The weather has been steadily cold lately, around 50 degrees (or around 10 degree Celsius). Trees are starting to get bald, leaves are messing roads and contraptions everywhere. I was planning to give a presentation on my paper for my independent study and then work in my office when suddenly I woke up with soreness all over my body and a slight soreness on my throat. I cross my fingers that this will not take into a more severe effect. I need my health to realize my plan up to February.
Particularly in this kind of weather is when I miss my Madam the most. Ah, her cute voice, her warmth, her picturesque, angelic face. Ah, her stories: what she's done at school, what she does with her "Josephine" cadaver, what she does to spend some time with her roommate(s), and how she plays and interacts with our unborn. It's going to be another 2 weeks until I meet her again, on the week of thanksgiving, which will be on the 27th of November. It is the same day when I was born 30 years ago and the same day my Parents vowed to spend their lives together in a holy matrimony 31 years ago. It's interesting that I was born a year after my Parents wedded and how the last Thursday of November is the day of thanksgiving here in the states.
Pianissimo [These lazy eyes turn to the corner of my bedroom. A little messy I must say: plastic bags, a sport bag, and a small luggage are laying on the corner of my bedroom. I don't actually dwell in this bedroom; it's not my original escape, definitely not my haven. After 6 months, I will finally bid adieu to this bedroom.]
I don't consider where I stay here in Richmond my permanent residence. I always feel Northern Virginia is my home here in the states. Northern Virginia, and all other parts of Washington D.C. area, is where my family lives: my Uncle and his family, my second Cousin who is of my age, my distant Aunt and her family, and my In-Laws who live in Rockville, Maryland. I know, I know, not-permanently staying in Richmond does not lend me an excuse for being unkempt. The only thing I have in this bedroom by the way, is an airbed, pretty much giving you the idea of how I feel that I don't belong here.
I live about 40 minutes away down to south from downtown Richmond. It's a nice suburb area with many white Americans dwelling here. It's interesting to see the demographic distribution in the states. That stereotype, rubbed on our faces by those Hollywood movies, by which the area where black Americans and Hispanics dwell is often for real. Often this area takes place if not in the downtown area or in the east side of a city. This is the area that people call the ghetto, the slum area where the crime rate is often slightly higher compared to the crime rate in other areas of the city. Interestingly, almost all cities in the states have their ghetto area in the east side. At least based on my experience living in St. Louis-Missouri, Washington D.C., and Richmond-Virginia. On the other hand, the west side is often filled by those mid-to-upper class white people. This area is often a convenient place to live with many family-friendly facilities. Midlothian, where I live, is not so much of a difference from the west side of Richmond. But its comfortable and convenient atmosphere sort of makes me feel unmotivated most of the times. I don't normally work from home cause I feel unmotivated once I'm home. But interestingly, this is not the case when I'm originally home in Arlington (D.C. area).
Pianissimo [These lazy eyes now turn to this laptop screen, staring at two electronic documents I composed earlier today. These documents have just been delivered to their proper owner, the one who is going to determine my future. The one who has been kind enough to me; the one with an extraordinary patience to deal with my tardiness.]
As I have managed to overcome my problem with anxiety, there emerges a new problem: I have become a bit of a laid-back type of person, if not too much that this causes a lot of delays in my daily schedule. I know, I know, it is something that I must deal with; a tardiness that has put many as victims. It's my way of overcoming that uneasy feeling whenever I'm bound to tight schedule and unmerciful deadlines; that essentially I'm not going to die just because I'm being late. Yes, I learn to overcome this in a not-so acceptable way.
Pianissimo [These lazy eyes turn to the window once again. The aura of the sky looks steady, the air seems motionless, the remaining leaves drip water drops. Rain has seemed to pour while these lazy eyes stare at this virtual diary of mine. I have seemed to be suspended in this bogus moment as I'm recording my life in this virtual diary.]
The bald trees mark the hype of autumn The yellowish brown leaves announce the peak of autumn That stream of melody applauds the gloomy sky of autumn Streaming in harmony with the pouring rain of autumn
Whatever happens on this lane is mine Whatever bursts in agony in my mind is mine How autumn shreds this sanity in me is mine How autumn steals my symphony away is mine
The small puddles celebrate the height of autumn The motionless air stays to tell fairy tales to autumn The cold weather is chilling with autumn Streaming in harmony with the grayish sky of autumn
How autumn laughs at my face is mine How autumn mocks my dignity is mine Wherever I run to is mine Wherever I stare at is mine
The ants hide away from autumn The squirrels shy away from autumn This tempo sways along with autumn Winter lays her head in the upcoming death of autumn
Wherever I point at is mine Wherever I dwell in is mine Whatever I am mimicking is mine Whatever I have done... ...is deceiving this humanity of mine
Midlothian, November 13, 2008 Muhamad F. Nasution
Note: the second picture on this entry belongs to Kris Cahill.
When the desert deflects the mirage again That tune freezes, parting melody from the wind I'm left tone deaf, blind Dust and sands collide... This is all a deceiving blend
When a boat docks to a pier I'll be in ecstasy, that reflection shines even brighter Oh... but empty, static, oh... but gloomy I'm running again, on a mere odyssey
When thousands of bubbles burst Do you know which one I am? Do I have to make the loudest burst? But I'm helpless, it's just all the same
When a petal drops to the river Am I the only one to see the ripple? The current swallows the flicker Should I dip my hands and grab that fate?
When the moon shies away in a partial eclipse A grasshopper stunned, a snake lurks for a feast No longer is his reflection in this pond Just as I emerge from this state of mind
Frankly, I can see, I can hear, I can think This playground is my comfort zone Nothing differs, nothing excels But I hate that new swing
Frankly, I can see, I can hear, I can feel I stop and I hum Go ahead, spin that ferris wheel Near or far... They're just the same
Arlington, June 29, 2008 Muhamad F. Nasution
Entry #XX0: It's been a while since the last time I recorded my life in this virtual diary. A lot of things has happened to me, Alhamdulillah. I am now a husband to a beautiful and greatest wife on earth, and a father going to be (the wife is now 6-month pregnant). Yes, I'm still a doctoral student and I haven't even done with my coursework, BUT, I've proposed to take the comprehensive exam on February 16, 2009, several weeks before my child is due. So I come close to actually becoming a doctoral candidate =) Yes, I'm still residing in the states and I'm looking at another 7 to 15 years at the very least to return home for good. But frankly speaking, I do miss my family back home, I do miss Jakarta. But whatever happened to me is of little interest. I do not intend to compose this particular journal to blab about my whereabouts.
You would wonder why I wrote this poem. This poem was kind of random, I composed it verse by verse while actually got fed up writing paper at around 3:00AM. I would see this poem as a helpless civilian's shout to dictatorship. So here's the thing, consider lethal circumstances similar to what happened in Indonesia, particularly in Jakarta, in May 1998. By lethal I mean increasing prices, crowding out investments, increasing number of unemployment, and skyrocketing interest rate. With these attributes, you could expect a verging reformation or revolution followed by humangous civilians massacre. This administration turn-over often deflects the "mirage" truth, i.e. situational fallacy.
But not until circumstances become lethal, we just choose to watch and hum, and let status quo spin the ferris wheel. We do realize that the falling petal causes ripple on the river (let's just call it increasing number of unemployment) or that the snake preys on the grasshopper even during lunar eclipse (let's call this increasing interest rate). But before things become lethal, who'll notice such fallacy? Hey, we're just one of those thousands bursting bubbles. Like it or not, these fallacies look just the same as if nothing happened, what say you?
The next essay is part of the requirement for my "Seminar in College Teaching" class. Hehehe, I just realize that I might become one of those demanding professors =p If you're thinking to take any of my classes, be prepared for a lot of hard works! =)
The pedagogical philosophy that I am using as a teacher in the field of business and management is to foster critical thinking of dealing with real-world problems in business and specifically in information systems. Critical thinking, problem solving, communication skill, and the ability to work as a team are essential skills needed for (future) managers to survive the competitive world of business. Having been an undergraduate student in computer science and a graduate student in business information systems, I found that the core concept of these combined areas is to utilize Information Technology (IT) for the benefit of organizations. However, I believe that it is rather delicate to capture the real-world problems of IT utilization to classroom. Through my past educational experiences, the case-study approach is an excellent tool to introduce students to various current issues of IT utilization and dealing with real-world problems of IT utilization. Hence, my primary objective as an instructor is to advance the issues of IT utilization beyond theories covered in textbooks and field articles so that this knowledge are applicable in real-world problems. In the end of the semester, I expect students to be familiar with issues dealing with the use of IT in organizations and to be able to work as a team.
In an attempt to achieve this objective, I will adopt the use of cognitive learning strategies introduced by Weinstein, C. E. I believe that students are knowledgeable of my field to certain degree and fostering such a strategy will entice exciting classroom discussions. I believe that coming to class prepared is essential to succeed. I expect students to have read some concepts from textbook(s) or assigned article(s) and be prepared to discuss such concepts in real-world setting (e.g. by using case-study approach). In this way, knowledge is transferred not only between me, and the students, but also among students themselves. In practice, I will present concepts and theories unearthed from textbook(s) or assigned article(s) through conventional lecture, and students are expected to apply these concepts to group presentations by using materials from the assigned case(s) and textbook(s) and/or assigned article(s). Group presentation will arouse students’ ability to work as a team and to communicate their knowledge and thoughts professionally. In addition, I believe that the use of conventional exam(s), (pop) quizzes, and individual term papers will arouse students’ ability to think critically and solve problems individually. As an instructor, I would expect certain degree of freedom to design and select the reading materials in addition to the core textbook(s) the school required. Additional reading materials include case-study materials (e.g. the Harvard Business School (HBS) Case materials), and news or academic articles. To avoid overwhelming students, however, I agree that there are different styles and methods to facilitate learning for undergraduate level and graduate level. Although I expect the undergraduate students to have certain degree of familiarity with IT utilization, I realize the raw understanding of what IT is among these students. Graduate students should have more experience in terms of their academic and professional backgrounds. I would assume a more one-directional teaching style when dealing with undergraduate students since I will be the main source of knowledge in the classroom. On the other hand, I would expect to better utilize the cognitive learning strategies when dealing with graduate students so that they can learn from each other’s experience and knowledge as well. My perspective is to treat undergraduate students as individuals and prepare them to work as a team and to treat graduate students as groups of knowledgeable individuals. Despite the demanding and the rigorous nature of my course(s), I expect to witness the learning process that students experience as a team and as respective individuals rather than the outcomes.
Although I emphasize learning process rather than outcomes or products, I believe that the use of conventional assessment is, still, a relevant and most powerful tool to measure students’ learning progress. I will assess the rigorous effort that students undertake and the performance students demonstrate on various projects and assignments. Certain criteria will be assessed based on performance rather than content when certain required skills are deemed more necessary. For instance, oral assessment and task distribution of group presentation are the more essential variables to assess as they convey communication skill and teamwork. Comprehension assessment is more appropriate to assess on quizzes, exam(s), and individual term paper(s). The degree of content comprehension demonstrates critical thinking and problem solving skills. As for the goals that I require students from different academic levels to achieve, I believe that the degree of evaluation varies between these levels as well. As individuals who are learning to work as a team, I encourage undergraduate students to primarily achieve critical thinking and problem solving skills. I emphasize individual efforts on undergraduate-level works; Group works are considered a secondary tool for undergraduate level. The opposite is expected for graduate-level works as I assume the participants are more mature students. To what degree should I consider my expectations have been successfully met? I expect and see my undergraduate students to grasp the contemporary issues of IT utilization in organizations and possess the skills needed to survive as (future) professionals. I expect and see my graduate students as responsible individuals who can teach one another and become leaders in their respective fields.
I realize that as a human being myself, I am not the most reliable source of knowledge for these people to rely on. By designing the learning process in such a way, I hope to learn from these bright individuals in return. Knowledge and thoughts I receive from my students may help me keep track with my own field and research. And I hope to be able to return this favor through teaching the newer generation by formulating these insights into better knowledge. I realize that I may not be capable of addressing each student as different and unique individual. Information systems field develops rapidly and is a field that was born from such disciplines as management, psychology, computer science, and economy, and coping with each individual’s cognitive style is a challenge itself. Without undermining each student as different individual, I emphasize more on delivering contemporary issues of information systems and that is my duty as a teacher. Taking the religious point of view, I believe that teaching profession is one of the most noble and prestigious professions God has ever bestowed upon us. We, professors and/or instructors, are responsible for creating experts and professionals by sharing our respective knowledge and expertise and this is how we, teachers, contribute to make the world a better place to live.
This song brings back memories when I was 4 or 5 year old in France. This song is the opening theme of The Muppet Movie (1979). Even until today, this song makes my eyes warm whenever I listen to it. Well, the point of this song is, believe in what you're doing, no matter how irrational it might seem to others. Only you who understand the reason for doing it. And in the end, you're the one who'll be glad that you've done it, and the others might be happy too! =) Don't forget to turn the music on the left-side navigation off to enjoy the video.
Kermit the Frog - The Rainbow Connection Written by Paul Williams
Why are there so many songs about rainbows And what's on the other side? Rainbows are visions, but only illusions, And rainbows have nothing to hide. So we've been told and some choose to believe it I know they're wrong, wait and see. Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection, The lovers, the dreamers and me.
Who said that every wish would be heard and answered When wished on the morning star? Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it, And look what it's done so far. What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing And what do we think we might see? Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection, The lovers, the dreamers, and me.
All of us under its spell, We know that it's probably magic...
... Have you been half asleep? And have you heard voices? I've heard them calling my name. ... Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors? The voice might be one and the same I've heard it too many times to ignore it It's something that I'm s'posed to be... Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection, The lovers, the dreamers, and me.
Laa, da daa dee da daa daa, La laa la la laa dee daa doo...
Name: Fari Nasution
Description: A man born an artist and raised as an analyst. A man who tries to see everything from the good side. A man who tries to mature every second, every moment, but tries to see the world through the eyes of a child. A man who uses music as his main source of inspiration and as his secondary air to breathe.