“Bali is Beautiful,” Beautiful with big “B”, capital “B”….. Yes, Bali is indeed Beautiful. I believe in it not because people say so, but because I have always felt the beauty. I love Bali. And, I can never differentiate between love and beauty. They are synonym.
But, when I passed by the monument that stands on what they call “Ground Zero” – suddenly the feelings of love and beauty in my heart gave away to hatred and ugliness. What came to my mind at the time were faces of those criminals generally identified as terrorists, those criminals who tried to destroy Indonesia by bombing Bali. I was, as if, watching again all those footages that I saw on television screen years back.
And, the feelings of love and beauty were instantly replaced by those of remorse. Sudden sadness enveloped me, enveloped my total being.
I wonder now, if my experience was mine own….. I truly hope so, I hope the experience is mine own, and no-one else feels the same way. For the first time in my life, I hope and pray that others are not sensitive enough. Not as sensitive as me, at least.
The question is – what if I am wrong?
What if others are as sensitive as me? What is they are more sensitive than me? What about those people whose kith and kin, whose family members died in the incidents? Will they return to Bali? Will they ever come to Bali for holidays?
Yes, perhaps they will return.
Perhaps they come back to Bali, albeit not for holidays. They come back to pay respect to their loved ones. They come back to refresh their memories about the bombings in Bali.
The monument at Ground Zero in Kuta Bali, is indeed no ordinary monument. It can draw you back in time to 2002 when Bali was bombed for the first time. And, then to 2005 when it was bombed for the second time. It is kind of time tunnel. A Tunnel that leads you back to only one time – the time of death, of destruction, of crime and death, the time of sadness grief and hopelessness.
So, I try to take another tunnel, that at Peace Monument in New Delhi India – where the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi are preserved for eternity. What do I feel there? I felt my spirit uplifted. I do not quite see eye to eye with The Great Soul. I do not quite agree with the Mahatma on all the issues – but yet, in spite of that, the monument has always been an inspiration to me.
Both, the Bali monument as well the monument at Rajghat New Delhi, are somehow connected with death. The victims of Bali bombings were killed by a bunch of fanatics, Gandhi was killed by a fanatic too. But again, in spite of all those similarities – Kuta is Kuta and Rajghat is Rajghat. The vibes at Rajghat are very uplifting….. Mahatma’s belief in Truth and Non-Violence can be felt in the air. Whereas the vibes at Kuta’s Ground Zero drain our souls. The air is so heavy with man’s helplessness and sense of insecurity.
Last time when I passed by the monument, just a week ago, I thought the situation must be changed. Bali can change it. Whatever dirt has been thrown on its beautiful face – Bali is still Beautiful with capital “B”, with big “B”. It still has enough beauty to clean its face. It still has enough love to drown all hatred and ill feelings towards those criminals who tried to destroy Bali.
What do we do?
What can be done?
First, the image of Ground Zero must be changed completely. So, I suggested to our friends there to conduct prayer meeting every week. A weekly prayer meeting conducted at that very point, Ground Zero. Let people of different faiths pray in their own languages and according to their beliefs, their religions. And, then the meeting is closed with some uplifting songs – songs of love, peace, harmony and friendship amongst nations – songs that celebrate pluralism and multiculturalism, and finally lead us beyond all kind of isms.
The vibes at Ground Zero must be changed….. They must be transformed from draining to uplifting. The monument there must be known and recognized as Monument for Peace. The Ground Zero must be renamed as Ground for Peace, Ground for Love, for Harmony.
Secondly, stop calling those criminals terrorists. Stop them from terrorizing you mentally. Erase their identity as such from your mind. They are not terrorists. They cannot terrorize us. Call them criminals. They are just street criminals. And, they belong to no religion. A criminal has gone against the very teaching of religion by committing such heinous acts of crime. Those who support and defend them are equally criminals. They too, belong to no religion. They cannot claim to be defendant of religion. They cannot defend any religion by killing people, innocent or otherwise. Capital punishment is state’s prerogative, not theirs.
Third, Bali must preserve its cultural identity. That is Bali’s charm. That is Bali’s wealth. Let not a presidential visit by a middle easterner force you to drop your kabaya in favor of another type of dress. A guest is honored, yes…. And Bali knows very well how to honor a guest. But, it does not mean that Bali should make unnecessary compromises that may kill its very identity.
Fourth, the high cost economy and living that is forcing Balinese to sell their lands – must be stopped. While preserving its culture, Bali must also learn to simplify ceremonies and rituals that is costing more than what they can presently earn. Many of the new landowners in Bali do not at all appreciate Balinese culture. They are there just to make quick money. Unfortunately however, they also bring with them, their own belief-systems that are not in line with Balinese Culture – Culture that has its roots deep in history of the archipelago – Culture that goes back to thousands of years before the birth of Christ.
Fifth – something that must be done by the local authorities. They must be one hundred percent pro-people. It is only when you are pro-people that you can be pro-nation. Nation is made of people, and State is the building that houses them. This inter-connection must be understood properly. But, for this the local authorities must not be confronted. No ugly and violent demonstration. They are our brothers, our sisters. They must be persuaded to see things as they are. We must learn to help our government function properly. We must also learn to do our part responsibly.
Bali must be saved…… rather, Bali must save itself. And, for that what is immediately required is awareness, awareness amongst Balinese. Bali must not only be aware of its place in the archipelago, but its role as the Last Resort of Indonesia’s Indigenous Culture – where culture is still alive and part of life.
Bali has not reacted criminally to the acts of crime – that is Bali. That is the culture of Bali. That is the true identity of Indonesia. We are peace loving, and therefore we do not allow anyone to destroy our peace. Criminals have never been part of our society, and we have to make sure that they will never ever be. We do not hate them, for they are sick. They need some rehabilitation, so we put them in the hospitals made for them. Our love is not an emotional upsurge. Our love is responsible love.
Bali, wake up…..
Wake up to the Glorious Future – that is your destiny…. Destiny that has been delayed, but can never be changed. Learn from your past mistakes, repeat them not and continue your journey towards Love, Light, Peace and Harmony.