Why we turn West?

This small blue dot earth sparks arousing beauties and exuberant cultures and people, uncontainable to a single human experience. It’s always a funny thought to me of how microscopic our perception of life is in comparison to the extremely minute, ever-evolving lives on earth. It’s really when you can live as every single human being ever and will step on earth that we can claim a little better who we are and what earth is, that we understand what life on earth looks like.

I often pondered by why I am never ambitious about living in the US. As someone who comes from a megapolitan capital city that hosts 20 million people, it only makes sense for me to choose a more spacious life, physically and mentally. Yet I chose the major Sociology and Cultural Studies, interned most of my time, and always opted for non-profit organization. That, probably the most difficult route to legally obtain a work visa in the US.

However after 5 years in the State, I decided to come home – almost intuitively I have to say. Intuitively in the sense that there’s a pulling back sensation that what I’m longing and what I’m looking for reside somewhere else. I came home as a different person, but there remains the same me that dwells happily deep inside, whether that’s a knowledge and wisdom, or a more refined sense of togetherness and selfless purpose that are getting less and less attention.

It struck me that, at the end of my life, I didn’t want to have a singular understanding of how the world is like. I grew up in a culture in awe with the West. Through the imperialism of media and culture, there proliferates an endless fascination towards the West. Easily the West becomes the symbol of wealth, prosperity, and humanity. It’s the perennial of civilization and the ultimate goal for all other cultures.

As an Indonesian, I think we completely lack the sense of identity, thus obediently accept any other ideologies that come to us aggressively as the truth. Our characters and values lie crushed underneath the immense adoration and acceptance towards the West.

There is nothing especially wrong with adoration, but I do strongly feel that it brings a skewed understanding of what the world and life really mean.

Just like someone in love.

I don’t think I want to die, thinking naively that the world is complete when described with its widest known and accepted ideology. Things like creativity, passion, life are of course experienced and expressed differently in remote villages compared to in a fast-paced, future-centered city.

There are so many values and truths clutch unto niche traditions that are still as relevant today as much as in the past. And they are actively seeking cracks through arts, literature, trends, or events to resurface.

As someone who has gone to the US and decided to come back, I guess I’m just long to study the world – the people, values, truth – naively as it is. I long to learn the stories and truths of the world that are “politely” being set aside, and finally, exterminated. I’m happy to be born as Indonesian because it gives me reasons to pursue these values and truths in my own native land.

When I can finally put these thoughts into words, after perhaps years of battling to understand this thirst in me, I had had the opportunity to reset and readapt to new surroundings. Coincidentally I landed a job in Ubud, an idyllic dreamy village with local Hindu-Balinese people rich in their own thoughts and traditions. I bumped head-to-head with my more Western preferences and thoughts, sometimes left me questioning my own lines of thoughts. But I love questions and occasional clashes. At least it ignites me and sparks me alive once again.

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