Forest (False) Pride

[Read on Hutan Itu Indonesia Launch on April 22nd, 2016.]

If there’s a drinking game for each time an Indonesian politician uses the phrase ‘kekayaan alam’, I’m pretty sure the whole country would be drunk.

Most of my friends are so proud when it comes to Indonesia’s ‘kekayaan alam’. We have the third largest tropical forests and peat lands in the world, they say. We also have one of the world’s largest mineral and fossil reserves, someone else add.

They did not stop there, they also told me to be proud. Harus bangga jadi orang Indonesia, punya beribu pulau dengan kandungan alam yang luar biasa. Mulai dari harimau sampai komodo, semua ada di negara kita.

Koes Plus also called, “Orang bilang tanah kita tanah surga, tongkat kayu dan batu jadi tanaman.” While it’s unlikely that I can grow fruits out of erecting a used chopstick in my front yard, I do have a better chance to be a farmer here than anywhere else.

But—wait.

It doesn’t feel right to take credits in simply being born to a place, as opposed to what we do about it. I wonder if we deserve even the tiniest bit of pride in what mother nature voluntarily gave us. Should one be proud of having rich parents? Or would it only help us feel entitled to do whatever we want—which seems to be exactly what’s been happening.

My other friends, who seem to be much less crazier than the previous ones, told me. In the past 20 years alone, we have shaved at least 35 million hectares of our natural forests—an area two times the size of Sulawesi Island.

What we also are, is the fifth largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world.

Now that’s not a record one should be proud of.

After all, why should we be proud of being born with a silver spoon in our mouth, just to exploit this inherited privileges later on? Just to open up the stomach of mother earth, and dig into everything that we could find inside?

Shouldn’t we be doing something about the damages that we already did instead? Until then, maybe we could rightfully be proud of being a country with that many ‘kekayaan alam’.

Only then, probably it’s okay for us all to get drunk together.

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