National reconciliation, the spirit of Easter
Senin, 22 April 2019 | 10:01 WIB

TheJakartaPost 20_04_2019 National reconciliation, the spirit of Easter

Aloys Budi Purnomo

Easter will be special this year as it comes on the heels of the simultaneous presidential and legislative elections.

Two days after the April 17 elections, Christians across the country will remember the humiliating crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ and celebrate his glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday. In such an unprecedented atmosphere, what can we ponder about the spirit of Easter in the current socio-political context?

We certainly wish that the dust resulting from the emotion-filled rivalry during the elections will have settled when we prepare for Easter, a testimony of faith for Christians all over the world.

Easter will have arrived after the nation was torn between two presidential candidates, who for the past seven months traded barbs, hurt each other and defied the fact that they were brethren of one nation.

The holiday comes just in time to call on the nation to reconcile, revive harmony and reestablish brotherhood as fellow citizens of Indonesia.

In fact, Easter promotes the spirit of reconciliation. It is the culmination of reconciliation between humans and God.

Their relationship was severed because of sins, for which Jesus descended to mend the ties through his sacrifices.

National reconciliation, therefore, requires us all to surrender our egocentrism, hatred and hard feelings. It’s a Herculean task but unless we heal the wounds, national unity will remain at risk.

Several steps can be taken. First, clean our hearts, clear our minds and keep our souls quiet.

This process is necessary before we can move to the second step, which is to forgive each other. We need to champion this spirit to progress together as a just and prosperous nation.

Finally, reconciliation must begin in the spirit of living together without separating you from me, us from them, any longer. We should harmoniously as one nation.

When we celebrate Easter, we may have a president and vice president chosen by the people through a democratic system. The winner will therefore be the people’s choice who everybody should accept and support because he will be the leader for all.

There is no need to mobilize people to celebrate a victory or reject defeat because elections are a routine mechanism to elect a person who we believe can lead us toward justice and prosperity.

Worse, any mobilization of the masses to vent disappointment will only create political infantilism.

We bore the brunt of ineffective legislative and executive functions as a result of prolonged squabbling among the elite following the 2014 presidential election. This should not happen again.

The mandate entrusted by the people to the leader requires him to preserve unity in diversity. An elected leader will instead trigger disunity if he discriminates, if not eliminates, those who voted against him.

This kind of thing must be avoided.

Easter commands an end to act violence, both physical and verbal. The holiday spreads the message of the restoration of human dignity. After the nasty competition, it’s time to return to being dignified human beings by removing the stigma of cebong (tadpoles) and kampret (small bat). Those references simply do not reflect the dignity of a just and civilized nation.

In fact, the stigma has only produced hatred that was intended to diminish our dignity as a civilized nation. It in turn would justify any means to eliminate each other.

Easter can inspire the nation to knit together our differences and diversity, which have been a source of strength since the birth of the nation.

Our founding fathers envisioned a prosperous, dignified and faithful nation. Only when we build an advanced and prosperous nation can we realize social justice for all Indonesians.

Happy Easter, celebrate peace.

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The writer is head of the campus ministry at Soegijapranata Catholic University, Semarang and a member of the Central Java Interreligious Harmony Forum. The views expressed are personal.

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