I was in the middle of a queue to board the aircraft. I was quietly reading my book while waiting when suddenly, I heard a murmur of displeasure coming from the front of the line.
A Western family (I don’t know where they were from) was voicing their annoyance at two women and a man who came out of nowhere and decided it was their right to just simply cut the line.
The line being cut didn’t annoy me as much as the fact that these three people were of Chinese Indonesian descent. Read: I am the of the same descent.
I’m sure we’ve all heard it before, or even said it ourselves: the Americans are this, the Indonesians are that, the Germans, the French, the Chinese, and the list goes on.
As much as we are aware of the detrimental effect of stereotyping and how unfair it is to stereotype, we just can’t help it sometimes.
We form a preconception when we witness something and it sticks in our subconscious.
And it takes ages to erase or modify what had been input into our subconscious.
What comes to your mind when I say Indonesia(n)?
- Beautiful Bali (not all is lost)
- Bountiful natural resources (we are very blessed)
- Deforestation (we are one of the biggest contributors to global warming)
I’m sure there are many more items but it seems like these always come first.
As proud as I am of our beautiful Bali and many of our natural resources, we are now well-known for not taking care of the blessings we have been bestowed.
The trees are being chopped off at the speed of lightning (the forest animals lose their home), our sea and beaches are littered with garbage (sea creatures found dead stranded on the beach for digesting plastic), and don’t even get me started on the corruption.
A viral YouTube video of a police officer accepting a bottle of beer as a bribe from a tourist had done so much damage to the overall image of Indonesian authority.
We carry with us an identity.
One which people associate with the collective character of our nations.
It is imperative for us to understand that all our action has a bearing on our fellow countrymen/countrywomen.
I always queue respectfully. I don’t litter and I try as much as I can to minimize the use of plastic (I carry my own shopping bag and water bottle when I go out).
I do it out of respect for other people and out of love for our Mother Nature, first and foremost.
I also do it because I understand the implication of my action on other people who are of the same descent as I am.
People who bear the same identity as I am.
We can’t stop people from stereotyping. It is already so inherent in our societies that to completely eradicate it, a mass brainwashing needs to be performed (I’m thinking along the line of the MIB’s Neuralyzer).
What we can do however, is to always remember that when we walk on the streets, we are not only representing ourselves. As much as I don’t like it and you probably don’t too, we are walking flags representing our countries.
Having said that, the good news is all our good deeds are taken into account as well! Take Canada for example, how many times have you heard that Canadians are famous for their hospitality?
Would you rather the people of your country be well-known as good natured, outstanding citizens or poor-behaved ill-mannered citizens?