The title of this article is taken from the title of one of Indonesia’s national songs which described our love to this beautiful nation. In Indonesia, we named the land as Ibu Pertiwi or motherland in English. Why this expression is referred to as “mother” is because this is where we were born, the land that raised us, feeding us with natural resources and incomparable natural beauty. It extends from Sabang in the west to Merauke in the east, with more than 17000 islands with various tribes, religions, languages and cultures.
There are various ways or expressions that local community are keeping alive in order to maintain and preserve nature through songs, dances, or poetry. For example, we have a traditional dance from Bali which is called Tarian Kupu-kupu (butterfly dance). This dance describes a butterfly who flies from one flower to the other and expresses through that the beauty of the island of Bali. If we look closely, the dancers strike their feet very slowly as a sign of respect of the ground that we live on. The dancer’s body movements also follow the rhythm of nature or the beauty of plants. In regards to songs, there are so many songs that express our love to our land; one of them is the title of this article.
Apart from singing and dancing, harmony between humans and nature can be also found in the naming of people; Names are often taken from animals, plants and natural surroundings. This shows how our society has a strong attachment to nature as well as a sense of love and care to the land we live on.
An important question arises when we look at the last few years and how environmental issues and pollution has intensified. Trash is scattered everywhere and nobody seems to care about it. Rivers and seas are filled with plastic waste that pollute all the ecosystems in it. Who should be responsible for all of this? Various movements to save our earth have developed over the years. But our culture of consumerism is making things constantly worse without thinking about the consequences that are following.
Personally, I realize that action to save our nature needs to be taken urgently. It is indeed not an easy task. I’m giving my highest appreciation to all who continuously fight in various ways to save this beautiful motherland from destruction. It is not impossible that their efforts will bring positive results.
A few days ago I had an opportunity to attend a seminar about environmental awareness through life in harmony with nature, sustainability, upcycling and recycling. The talk that struck me the most, was the opening on the very first day of the seminar which focused on self-care and care for others. The latter is the most important thing to note. Our concern about others becomes the key in preserving nature. However, caring for others will come when we first care about ourselves through our lifestyle.
Indonesia Tanah Air Beta seems to be a meaningless song when meanwhile garbage is scattered in the ocean and rivers without anyone caring about it
As an Indonesian, I have to take full responsibility for what is happening now in terms of pollution and disorder of nature. It is our way of life that has turned nature into an object to be exploited. Unfortunately, the call to save this beautiful land is mostly coming from people who are not Indonesian. Indonesia Tanah Air Beta seems to be a meaningless song when meanwhile garbage is scattered in the ocean and rivers without anyone caring about it. Now is not the time for us to point fingers what has happened to our environment. It is time for us to look into ourselves and begin taking steps forward to care for others and our nature.
As a point of reflection, I want to invite us to rethink the richness of our traditions that have sustained throughout generations. Our ancestors have inherited a very strong tradition where nature and men are two inseparable parts of life. The survival of men is greatly determined by the balance between the two elements. I still remember seeing my grandfather performing a ritual of honoring a tree before it was being cut down to build our traditional house. It is not an idolatry but merely an honor to God that has given us this tree and hoping that the new shoots will grow again as a substitute for the tree we have cut.
Seeing nature as a subject rather than on object
The basic approach we should take in safeguarding our current nature is by reviving local traditions and cultures where people see nature as a subject rather than an object. There is equality, respect and worship. Balinese people have a philosophy of life which is calld “Tri Hita Karana”, which means “Harmony among people, Harmony with nature, Harmony with God”. It is derived from the Balinese beliefs, that promote harmony among fellow human beings through communal cooperation and promoting compassion; harmony towards God, manifested in numerous rituals and offerings to appease deities; and harmony with their environment, trying to conserve nature and promoting sustainability and balance of the environment.
Next to the environmental initiatives that are mostly set up by foreigners, we can also choose a cultural approach, that might be closer to the local communities, by recalling the belief of the importance of nature in the survival of human life. In the campaign of environmental conservation we can fall back on local wisdoms and their traditions. For example, incorporating the local language in the campaigns would help as people might feel directly addressed by the campaign. Lastly, it is important to invite young generations to be more grounded in their own culture so they can feel the importance of nature. At the same time they need to be educated and need to open up to virtues that come from outside so that the sustainability of our nature will be maintained. Thereby, Indonesia Tanah Air Beta will remain a beautiful song that will resonate throughout generations.