A Plea for Fear

In the wake of #KamiTidakTakut hashtag and all the diverging sentiments toward it, I wondered why—and particularly when—did today’s society begin to fear (v.) fear (n.). Somebody must’ve given fear a bad name, so much so that we decided to put him in the corner—as the emotion we shall all avoid, because it makes mankind small; it makes us a coward, unworthy member of civilization.

Terrorism, at its core, is about creating fear. At the political level, though, it is mostly about exhibiting power: proving that, the state hasn’t been effective in preventing attacks and protecting its citizens. In this light, a communal fear (or its false lack thereof) becomes irrelevant; at the end of the day, asymmetric warfare has a lot more layers to it beyond the people’s state of mind.

The following paragraphs however do not plan to join the debate in any way. It rather aims to limn a gentler introduction to fear, including why it deserves our respect and amity—for good reasons.

Many claims that one shouldn’t do anything based on fear: you shouldn’t stay at a certain workplace because you fear being poor—rather, you should quit and follow your passion. You shouldn’t listen to your parents because you’re afraid to let them down, you should do what you believe is right. One of these days, heroes are the brave: the ones who ‘handled’ their fear and take down the villain—which, in this case, are a job that sucks and your parents’ expectations.

It would be pretty straightforward to argue that they’re right. After all, fear often clouds our judgment from seeing the bigger picture and aiming for the greater good. At other times, however, it occurs to me that maybe fearing these risks is the good instinct talking to you. Maybe it makes sense that you assess the cons—after all, having a safety net wouldn’t hurt, and your parents have provided you for quite a while, it’s your time to give in.

For what it’s worth, it is fear that tells us there’s something wrong.

We have all seen Inside Out (the movie which—quite literally—brings you into a girl’s head and understand the five primary emotions inside it). Fear was depicted as this anxious little guy who always drives Riley away from the adventures/exciting things a.k.a. ‘the boring one’. But he does so in the sole mission of avoiding risks that would’ve caused her pain and all other sorts of danger. Albeit Fear is unlikely to be anyone’s favorite (especially compared to Joy and Disgust—or, in my case, Sadness), he has his role and damn well aced it.

The crush you’ve wanted to ask out for so long, but haven’t got the confidence to? Maybe it is fear, alerting you that he/she has never signalled a positive note on your late-night chats. Maybe it is your subconscious, trying to save yourself from a possible sinking ship of broken heartedness.

You got my point.

Linking back to the terrorist attacks, I wondered if being not afraid only means that we’re starting to be immune about these dangerous fanatics living among us. Shouldn’t we be afraid? Shouldn’t we be telling the government to take serious measures to address the problem?

As this Guardian op-ed brilliantly pointed out, Indonesians may be trapped in a cognitive dissonance: despite realizing how it should be traumatizing, we have grown so used to thinking that ‘these things just happen’. To most of us not directly affected by the blasts, Bonni suggests, they seem no more than ceremonial. And this is bad.

Either way, maybe it’s time to give fear a second chance.

“Fear is wisdom in the face of danger, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock, The Abominable Bride

Because the Freedom to Think Is What Makes a Human Human

(More boringly known as: “A Personal Musing on Who Should Be
Indonesia’s Next President”.)

As the old car we rented passed by a local school in Putussibau yesterday, my mind wandered back to the time I was still an elementary student. Compared to how ‘she’ works today (yes, my brain is a female), I was a very different girl back then. For starters, I never really questioned regulations, I enjoyed abiding them, and being critical was not really a concept I could grasp. Growing up is funny, you see: we are physically still the same person—seeing with the same eyes and talking with the same mouth—but inside, we are almost a different person every day. I could vividly imagine myself from five, ten years ago in loud disagreement with the present me.

Anyway, there are some fragments of memory I would like to share about being in a white-and-red uniform in the last two years of New Order era (and four more during the early Reformation period).

I remembered wearing my favorite hairband (which was pink); I remembered the great sensation of knowing that you could add and subtract numbers (I mean how awesome is that); and I remembered impatiently waiting to learn new things every morning. But on top of them all: I remembered being introduced to rules. I remembered recognizing ‘right’ from ‘wrong’.

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They say kids are like sponges: they absorb knowledge very quickly, and they memorize what their parents say on the fly. This, I now understand, is the basic idea that Soeharto’s regime utilized to control the way young Indonesians behaved—through feeding us doctrines of what is okay and not okay via education.

Being under the authorities’ influence, my brain automatically created a simple binary system that registered deeds into ‘GOOD’ and ‘NO GOOD’ shelves. Submitting homework on time, for example, is an absolute ‘GOOD’. Not wearing the red cap on Mondays is ‘NO GOOD’, just like being late is. The flag should not touch the floor (now I find this idea very ridiculous) and the teacher is always right.

This library of information continued storing data as I grow up (adding things like ‘drinking alcohol’ to the ‘NO GOOD’ list as well as ‘being extremely active in extracurricular activities’ to the ‘GOOD’ list—not sure where I got that from LOL).
And it evolved to the extent I hated the Communist Party with all my heart. Our history books were pre-cooked with judgments, you see, it was written in a way that made us hate certain actors (including the Dutch and Japanese—the ‘penjajah’) while overselling the patriotism of our military force.

This over-controlled sphere of opinion-producing and significant absence of space for debates and criticism (linear curriculum with multiple choice tests FTW—NOT) turned most Indonesians (including yours truly at that time) into self-righteous, narrow-minded, judgmental pricks.

Today, more than a decade later, I know better.
I know that there is no such thing as an absolute right and absolute wrong.

I would tell myself from 17 years ago that sometimes not submitting homework on time is good when you have to take care of your mother, and I would break the news to my teenage self that people have life priorities, she would have to accept that. You see, my stupid young self: 1) laws were made by human—even the ones God created are interpreted by people with flaws, 2) we could criticize and challenge any of them when it’s not working, and 3) we could also create one of our own.

My college friends call this epiphany as being ‘liberated’—I call it a blessing. It’s a blessing to be fully aware that we are allowed to think; that we could question any tradition, we are encouraged to doubt the regulars, and we are free to investigate fallacies. Most fundamentally, I appreciate the rewarding pleasure of being able to disagree and produce our own, independent thoughts. (Read 1984/Anthem/A Brave New World for more of this.)

Having gone this far, of course, I would not allow the slightest possibility of having an authoritarian regime that will limit our newly-acquired freedom to think (let alone of speech) again. I won’t give a room for a new New Order.

Now this consciousness development relates a lot to whom I’m voting for on July 9th.

If you’ve been reading my tweets lately, you would’ve guessed already that I’m rooting for Jokowi. Well I am, you see, but unlike the people with half-red avatars who’ve been actively supporting the incumbent governor of Jakarta, my initial reasoning process is very straightforward. I simply don’t want to be governed by people who haven’t undergone the same mind-opening process, who think that democracy is merely a means, that freedom of speech is secondary in comparison to access to welfare.

I would rather avoid having a self-righteous president who are subsequently backed by a group of narrow-minded politicians in his cabinet.

The evidence of this allegation toward Prabowo is all over the place:

#1 Whenever asked about his human rights record, Prabowo always passes the ball to his military bosses (‘tanya atasan saya’). This signals two things: 1) he could not see the underlying problem of this ‘order’ from the first place (needs some text book to grasp the concept of human rights, perhaps?) such that he wasn’t able to feel guilty or at all apologetic to concerned families, 2) he still thinks like a soldier, because certainly a leader would be brave enough to take a bullet and volunteer to go to the court and let the bar decides.

#2 ‘Self-righteous’ is the second adjective that came into my mind to label the parties and organizations supporting him, after—of course—’hypocritical’. I mean, how else would you call PKS (meat corruption), PPP (Surya Dharma Ali case), Ical (and his unfinished Lapindo business), as well as PAN (Amien’s inconsistent statement). Not to mention FPI, FPR, and Pemuda Pancasila boys who are far from valuing human beings, let alone our rights to everything else.

#3 His party specifically mentioned about ‘membuat jera agama yang menyimpang, which is practically rising a big fat board with ‘I AM VERY NARROW-MINDED’ in capital letters on it. I could really go on with this, but there isn’t really much point in doing so.

But again, if my problem is with Prabowo, why bother voting for Jokowi at all? Why don’t I just, let’s say, go Golput?

Well honestly, I had my hesitations (cherishing the freedom to think, remember?), but then I talked to a number of people, read several articles, and eventually arrived to the conclusion that Jokowi deserves my vote. Just to make it an apple-to-apple comparison: Jokowi does value open-mindedness, and this is reflected from how Solo and the first several years of Jakarta performed under his wings. Instead of going with the conventional methods of running things, he made notable breakthroughs here and there. Innovation as well as the ability to think beyond what has been done for years.

Now because we all attach importance to the freedom to think, I would not try to convince those who doubt Jokowi’s control over Megawati’s hidden intentions. However, so far he has demonstrated:

#1 Merit, merit, merit—I’ve been telling people how I am all for meritocracy.
Jokowi is the only presidential candidate with almost 10 years of experience (and proven achievements) leading different governmental levels, and there goes my first checklist. If there’s anything you should doubt, it’s the ability of a fired military personnel to run a cross-level and cross-sectoral ministries that sometimes need out-of-the-box debottlenecking measures.

#2 He is surrounded by open-minded people—Anies Baswedan is more than enough to prove this point. This also means that the people around him does not seek for power (they are smart enough to know that ministerial positions are non-negotiable). On top of this, his work has also inspired his own party and its chairlady to actually be open-minded enough to allow someone from outside the party’s leadership to run as president.

#3 He has a lot more to offer and a lot less moral baggages to deal with—despite having Jusuf Kalla as his running mate (the man who introduced Ujian Nasional), Jokowi actually promised to erase the national examination for good if he gets elected. This is a very bold offer, of course, and at the same time also shows his ability to negotiate and compromise with Kalla. At the same time, despite generic, he also has many ideas to bring to the table in his white book (although debatably this was prepared by his team, which presidential candidate doesn’t?).

Because to me, the freedom to think is what makes a human human. Because the freedom to think is the start of every great civilization in the world. In this light, I will vote for Jokowi because I believe he would do everything he could to protect our freedom to think—to disagree, and to criticize the government. He would work for us, and that’s enough.

[Btw, this probably isn’t the first article you’re reading on June’s heated presidential race, and certainly isn’t the best either. I call it a ‘musing’ because clearly it’s circling around without making any sharp point, and ‘personal’ because d’oh.

Thanks for making it this far, though.]

Democracy: The Story of a Spoiled Child

“Don’t (write), unless being still would drive you to madness,” says Charles Bukowski.

Having been extensively exposed to our domestic politics lately—mostly through talks with Andika or works related to Parlemen Muda Indonesia—I couldn’t help but to spend a significant amount of time revisiting my idealism of how a government should work, and consequently grows a strong urge to write this very essay.

I’ll start with a big question mark: is democracy the best power system in the world? Seeing how a majority of countries today decided to embrace it, most people would probably find the inquiry not very challenging. Yes, they would say, a type of government whose power comes directly from the people being ruled must be the fairest deal available. Because really, who would want to be ruled by a blood-appointed individual (like in classic monarchy) or an elite group of privileged intellectuals (or what Aristotle called as oligarchy)? Well, let’s talk about that a little bit more.

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[Picture courtesy of House of Infographics and AyoVote, two awesome youth-driven initiatives.]

Let us first establish what we mean by ‘best’—I would propose the following: 1) rational with accountable rulings and decisions, 2) effective in ensuring wealth and prosperity of many, and 3) less prone to tendency to corrupt. From a historical point of view alone, one could argue that many empires, dynasties, as well as other similar non-democratic regimes have successfully achieved these three steps of being a ‘successful government’ although not entirely flawless. But so isn’t democracy.

At the end of the day, perhaps the main debate should sit at the principles where they were built upon; it is not a race of achievements, but more about the basic notion of justice and ensuring a playground that enables us to protect it.

So, what’s with the spoiled child, again? Well…

I. He Was Born Quite a Long While Ago (As a Different Breed)

In the city-state of Athens, around 507-508 B.C.E. It means that mankind has learned about it for almost 2.600 years and yet is still clueless about how to make it truly work. A good reason to this is likely the fact that what we know today as ‘democracy’ was not exactly what Cleisthenes referred to when he first introduced this back then. Despite having a similar property of executive-legislative-judicial branches like the now-democracy, the then-democracy had two largely contrast features:

  • Government administrative and judicial offices stood upon random selection of ordinary citizens
  • Legislative assembly consisted of all Athenian citizens

By ‘all’ I really mean every single citizen living in the big A. Although, do not forget that numbers also matter here. Athens had only 30.000 official citizens (women, slaves, foreigners, and youth under 20 excluded) who arguably had equal access to education and assets. This made it possible for them to practice democracy in its most primitive, naked meaning: power (thus decisions and regulations)
from the people, for the people.

Now that the statistics became unbearable (I’m not sure if we can find a room or field large enough as a legislative assmbly to hold up all 200 millions of Indonesians), however, we had to learn the concept of representation. We had to accept that a smaller group of people (560 is pretty small, even compared to how the Greek did it) speak for us in the parliament, hoping that they really know what we want.

On top of that unfortunate reality, the inevitably growing disparity of knowledge and/or wealth among millions of us also made democracy a tricky business: it enables men possessing more money or intelligence to claim for power by buying/manipulating votes from the poor and/or the stupid. I cannot agree more when Will McAvoy said that a well-informed society (and a prosperous one, an economist would add), is prerequisite to a healthy democracy.

II. His Friends Enjoyed Playing Different Kinds of Games

Newsflash: democracy is not the oldest form of government. It is mainly patriarchal monarchy, traced back to the days where the alpha-males led their tribal groups. The oldest sons usually had it coming that they will rule after their fathers ceased, and therefore had longer time to get himself prepared for the throne. In fact, based on the numbers of rulers alone, democracy has 7 good companies:

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And by no means to surprise you, I’m actually a fan of oligarchy (rule by a group of best people—sometimes confused with ‘aristocracy’, never quite understand the difference between them)—albeit I would like to emphasize that meritocracy (whose tenet is basically ‘individuals with merit should hold power’) shall be the very core of it. A month ago Daniel A. Bell and Chenyang Li wrote an insightful essay about Compassionate Meritocracy which caught my utmost attention, defending Singapore’s political system (or what the West often labels as ‘pseudo-democracy’) which advocates ‘an institutionalization of mechanisms aimed at selecting the candidates who were best qualified to lead—even if doing so meant imposing constraints on the democratic process’.

It is exactly this that makes me reluctant to completely believe in democracy: people stop debating on the strategies to choose the best leaders because it hurts the universality of democracy. Since “democracy demands only that the people select their leaders, it is completely up to voters to judge candidates’ merits“. I mean despite forcing candidates to spend a big portion of wealth in producing banners, posters, and all kinds of expensive advertisements, democracy still does not guarantee that we get the best possible individual to lead or legislate for our country.

If anything, democracy is simply ineffective.

III. Many Good Rumours About Him, Though

Should these flaws stop us from sticking ourselves to democracy? I’d love to say otherwise but the answer is no. Yes, democracy is ineffective and there are many loopholes in it, but it also halts people from going to war (pure monarchy does induce possible hatred among royal family members and attempts of power acquisition from other houses—yes, by the way, I watch Game of Thrones). Additionally, democracy creates disincentives for governments to go to war with one another (since the people will ask them to stop). Democracy could’ve done a lot better had we fixed its derivatives.

I use the word ‘spoiled child’ to describe democracy because people have been taking it a little too much for granted. You can use it as a magic word in any kinds of legal plead or political speechpeople are likely to respect you if you respect democracy. Additionally, a ‘democratic process’ has an ameliorative sense by definition, but the truth is, today’s Indonesia is not the best home for our spoiled child to grow, and here are some quick facts for us to think about:

  • The statistics predict that from the total 55.000.000 of our below 30 voters, 50% of them are very likely to not give their vote to any party (golput).
  • We still have a high number of people living in property with low access to education and complete information about political candidates (both executive and legislative), disabling them to make the best possible decisions.

They say that there is an irreplaceable fun and great learning from making mistakes—well, I just hope that our fun and learning process is over. I hope that 2014 is a game-changing year for Indonesia’s democracy. I mean, at some point, the child has to grow up, doesn’t he?

What It Really Takes (for Indonesia to Reemerge as the Third World Leader)

[An essay I submitted to the G20 Youth Indonesia selection committee.]

Indonesians are trapped in historical romanticism for a reason: this archipelagic country was once indeed a great nation who stood up against post-colonialism inequality while promoting cooperation in order to accelerate the accomplishment of post-World War II development agendas. The establishment of Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the success of Bandung Conference and consequentially Non- Aligned Movement, as well as Indonesia’s victory over the Netherlands in the case of West Papua; these three cases are enough evidence to demonstrate Indonesia’s outstanding performance back then. Not only were we the pioneer of great initiatives in the region, Indonesia was also respected as one of the game- makers during the Cold War era—hence validating the claim I made in the beginning of this essay.

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Having undergone over 67 years as an independent republic, however, it is essential for us to stop glorifying the past and question our current standing: where are we right now? Have we lived the pride our Founding Fathers had about a harmoniously prosperous people they dreamt of? If not, what went wrong and—more importantly—how could we fix them? These inquiries are very pivotal drivers for today’s young generation lest this nation seeks to move on from exalting the past and start being proud Indonesians. Deep down, I always believe that if we manage to unleash all of Indonesia’s potentials, this country will not only reemergence as the leader of the Third World: we can be one of world’s greatest state-actors both in economic and political sectors. The following paragraphs will explicate further upon the foundational strategy that is deemed essential to achieve such an ambitious notion—each of which covers both national and international aspect of the policy.

I. Open Government: Bureaucratic Reform as the Backbone of Change

Blame the game, never the players. I believe that it is not impossible to change the behavior of individuals as long as an effective system is in place. All the issues coming from Indonesia’s bureaucrats, thenceforth, should also be dealt using this intelligent postulation: that the rules and regulations need to be frequently monitored and evaluated more than the countless problems themselves. In other words, the leaders of this country should utilize a helicopter view lest they wish to mend the republic holistically. So before Indonesia continues with big ideas on international standing and foreign policy recommendations, the issue of open government (i.e. transparency and accountability) needs to be addressed immediately— both as a domestic matter and a universal currency.

The story of Indonesia’s struggle in improving its bureaucracy has begun long before the 1st Open Government Partnership meeting was held in New York, 2011. But taking co-chairmanship with the United Kingdom this year, Indonesia has made a global commitment to enhance its checks and balances mechanism paralleled with national endeavors to increase society’s participation in the process. The year 2011, 2012, and 2013 are stated by the official Secretariat (under the President’s Delivery Unit of Development Monitoring and Oversight) respectively as the ‘commencement phase’, ‘breakthrough and innovation phase’ as well as the ‘expansion and intensification of public participation phase’. The year 2014, therefore, is a critical period that will determine the success of Open Government Indonesia’s four- year national roadmap as well as its bargaining position internationally.

If I were the next president of this republic, I will firstly ensure the continuation of this initiative. Domestically, a more open government will not only effectuate a better coordination as well as decision- making process amongst the cabinet and ministries I lead, but further it will also enhance the quality of public service units, eradicate corruption, restore society’s trust in the government and, in return, build stronger political participation. Internationally, Indonesia will gain more respect because, despite being a developing country, it dares to prove its consistency in promoting a more open government that adjusts with the advance of technology and innovation—which is still a difficult mission
for Third World countries.

II. The Archipelago Economy: (Agricultural) Growth for All

Having repaired the government’s home-performance through bureaucratic reform, my next focus would go to our economic growth. Above everything, we need to realize that Indonesia is one of a few countries that are bestowed with rich natural resources. To list a few, Indonesia is: 1) world’s largest producer and exporter of palm oil, 2) second-largest exporter of coal, 3) second-largest producer of cocoa and tin with 4) fourth- and seventh- largest reserves of nickel and bauxite. November 2012, however, marked a historical wave in the course of Indonesia’s economic performance, when the country’s top 1.500 leaders gathered in a visionary meeting to discuss how Indonesia can boost its potentials even further. In this meeting, a report on The Archipelago Economy: Unleashing Indonesia’s Potential was presented and the findings were rather a shocking one: Indonesia was predicted to surpass Germany and the United Kingdom as world’s 7th largest economy by 2030.The analysis highlighted how it was pivotal to safeguard stability while promoting diversification of economy in order to invite more investors as one of the key factors in the country’s overall development. A thorough and meticulous management is then mandatory in order to deal with this once-in-a-century economic transformation. As the leader of the country, I would ensure that all of the participating parties in the national meeting to harmonize and accustom their respective institutions to take part in this astonishingly stimulating vision.

Among others, my priority would be set upon increasing the country’s national productivity in agriculture and fisheries. One of my most elementary reasons will be the apparent rise in the number of middle-class consumers in the emerging markets such as India and China. Domestically, the increased demand is predicted to take place simultaneously with giant migration of countryside citizens to the cities. According to the report, to meet domestic demand alone, Indonesia’s farms will need to increase productivity by 60%—making it imperative for the government to anticipate and ensure significant improvements in agriculture and fisheries sector. All of these efforts should aim at well-distributed growth throughout the archipelago, accompanied by adequate skill-based
investment in our youngsters.

III. Take Big Jargons to the Extra Miles: Reestablishing
Leadership In the Region

Traces of Soekarno’s brilliant discourse building such as the dichotomy between NEFO (New Emerging Forces) and OLDEFO (
Old Established Forces) in the Cold War era seemed to have also inspired today’s foreign policy. After Yudhoyono’s infamous line ‘a thousand friends, zero enemy’, the MoFA continued the legacy by bringing up the so-called ‘dynamic equilibrium’ to the table of our regional negotiations. Last year, chairing ASEAN, Indonesia also introduced the vision of ‘ASEAN community in a global community of nations’. These three jargons should, I wholeheartedly believe, be utilized to further empower Indonesia’s role in the global arena. Beyond this, Indonesia needs to bring up the equivalently important discourse of sustainability and human security as the main development agendas post-2015. Hundreds of years of civilization have taught me one thing: that the power of words is often undermined—as long as the country’s leaders commit to the discourses they initiated, it is not impossible that the international community would once again pay respect to our country’s determination and acknowledge our leadership in regards.

After all, the year 2014 should not only become a year of ‘democratic festivities’ where millions of Indonesian citizens will celebrate democracy by using their voting rights, but also a decisive period that will determine whether or not this country can unleash its predicted potentials. Having elaborated three of the most basic—not necessarily huge, but profound—policies that need to be catered in welcoming a greater development for the country, I would like to also emphasize the important role of youth as the upcoming decision-makers, entrepreneurs, as well as engineers of the country: the government needs to invest more in capacity building programs and educative projects. Shall these foundational aspects be successfully accomplished, I am more than confident that the nation can finally move on from their pseudo-pride of historical romanticism—and cherish the real thrill and honor of being an Indonesian.

Footnotes:

[1] ‘About’, Open Government Partnership’s official website.
[2] Open Government Indonesia: Sebentang Titian Menuju Keterbukaan(Jakarta: Open Government Indonesia Secretariat, 2012)
[3] Masterplan: Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesia Economic Development 2011-2025, Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs,
Republic of Indonesia, 2011.
[4] Raoul Oberman et. al, The Archipelago Economy: Unleashing Indonesia’s Potential (Jakarta: McKinsey Global Institute, September 2012)

An Essay on Love (World without States)

In a planet where opinions are openly contested—although not necessarily valued—everyone appears to disagree upon everything: environmentalists refuse the expansion of industry, liberalists oppose regulated markets, and technocrats always opt for continuous progress above other options. Deep inside, these people have an ideal picture about the future they want to live in and, despite the apparent dissimilarities, all of them are united by a commitment to the quest of accomplishing their visions.

I, too, have my own aspiration about how a perfect world should be.

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For one thing, power tends to corrupt. The idea of social contract where abundant control is ‘voluntarily’ given by the society to a group of chosen individuals, therefore, has its intrinsic gravitation towards fraudulence. In many parts of the planet, this nature materializes in the form of strong soldiers killing innocent people for an invisible cause called ‘nationalism’, terrible misconduct use of budget that actually belongs to poor people, as well as limited freedom of speech over various means, justified merely by the paranoia of government officials. The most powerful ones ironically claim that they strive towards obtaining international peace when the only tools they use are guns and grenades.

The good news is, these conditions are not given; they are rather the products of a concept invented by the emperors and kings of Europe almost four centuries ago. Like any other invention, I believe that ‘nation-state’ also has its expiration date. Today, this process is further accelerated by globalization and technology, both of which have been escorting the global civil society to be stronger than ever. Just in the last few decades, transnational solidarity and tolerance have proven itself to be so powerful it can change the decisions taken by world leaders.

It is therefore possible that in less than a hundred years, states’ dominance will be replaced by a network of restless efforts and voices of the people. When the time comes, we might also overhaul the current system and recreate the foundation of this planet—because human beings deserve a better future. A completely different world from what we have now.

In that world, the only spoken language will be the language of unity. The disappearance of the word ‘nationality’ will be accompanied by the extinction of ‘gender’, ‘race’, ‘class’, as well as ‘ethnicity’. All of them will no longer be printed in dictionaries of any tongue, replaced by vocabularies of equality and justice. As the consequence, the level of misunderstandings between humans will greatly decrease, along with the ridiculous hatred among them.

In that world, the only visa required will be your birth certificate. Every newborn baby will be a citizen of the world, and one day he/she will settle down in a territory that needs him/her the most, regardless their blood relation. No one will be able to prohibit any individual from travelling and experiencing the journey of their life for one-sided political grounds.

In that world, the only valid money will be in the currency of love. When power is no longer a transactional commodity, it should be distributed equally to the people who need it. ‘Empowerment’ will become the main jargon of the next generation’s civilization, as they realize that leaving behind marginalized groups will equal the beginning of their own devastating loss. The economy will not be run under forced egalitarianism, but rather constructed upon the essential awareness that—at the very least—one shall not become a burden to the others.

In that world, the only prevailing religion will be humanity. Yes, everyone will still hold to their faith in different gods and rituals, but they all perceive one another as one big family. While safeguarding an even richer diversity of beliefs, conscience will speak louder than man-interpreted sacred texts, and mortals will be able to value life more than ever before. Wars will be kept in museums forever, visited by people only to remind themselves about the horrendous history mankind once had and shall never be repeated.

In that world, there will be no states. There are only I, you, and billions of people who give up the identity that our governments and grandparents once dictated us to have. There will only be a peaceful planet filled with men and women who regard differences as something to be grateful of, and impartial justice as their non-negotiable principle.

[P.S. This essay was submitted to the UNESCO-GOI Peace International Essay Contest for Young People and surprisingly got me the 3rd Prize, alongside with other wonderful writers from across the globe.]