Thursday, 26 April 2007

Grieving on Violence

Monday, April 23, 2007 the sky in Jakarta is weeping together with the family and friends of Partahi Mamora Halomoan Lumbantoruan as his body lowered to the ground. He was one of the thirty two victims in the Virginia Tech. massacre.

He was awarded a Ph.D. degree posthumously. A degree that made him flew over to the United States of America. Pursuing a dream to be a better teacher, he was supported by his family who even sold their rice fields to finance the study.

It is an irony that the gunman blamed his crazed action towards the high class of the society. He addressed his anger to the people he referred as snob and greedy. But, here lies a modest man, who had never been living such a glamorous life. Mora, as he was called by his friends, came there to share the American dream.

A lot of Indonesians are dreaming to have a chance to study abroad, in America particularly. I was one who ever shared the same dream. It is a dream to achieve higher education, and to be able to taste the democracy and freedom of the American. Now as a mother I keep a dream to be able to send my sons to have a higher study abroad.

Mora’s stepmother cried she called out the name of Mora’s belated mother to come pick up his son’s spirit. She promised to take care of him, and she did! She was now confused on the fact that there are guns in the dormitory, and to the fact that the classroom is not a safe place for her son.

The incident happened just a few days before the eight years of Columbine school massacre. Seung-Hui Cho, the man behind the guns, seemed aware of the tragic massacre in Colorado. He probably even chose the date carefully to perform his action in Virginia.

Debates launched on US gun control. Eight years after the Columbine school massacre there is no improvement in the law of controlling gun and controlling the purchaser.

Boris Kaimakov from Moscow (RIA Novosti) noted that although Russian media outlets focus on the arms trade in the United States, the Russian online discussion also point out to the American way of life and youth mentality. One blogger make his note: There is a cult not so much of abstract wealth as of routine consumption. Your colleagues, neighbors, girlfriends, parents and kids – all judge you by the price of your car, cell phone, watch and all that. The more expensive things you buy the greater the success you are. Otherwise you are a loser, and God help you. That’s true not only for the States. It’s like that everywhere – in Russia, too. You have to show off day in, day out. You always feel uncertain of your success, and afraid of becoming the underdog. How to relax, to get away from it all? We Russians have vodka, and Americans have guns” (Virginia Tech campus tragedy proves U.S. gun control is a must, The Point, April 20, 2007).

This is so true, Indonesians are also driven to the instant success and consumption as the barometer of success. People are pushing their children to go from courses to courses in order to gain a better place in the society. We worked hard to provide money to buy all the consumer goods, to give the chance our sons play PS and Game Boy as his neighbor friends, or to play Barbie Doll to our little girl.

While the violence in PS game and Game Boy was introduced to our sons, our girls tried hard to copy the beauty of Barbie, leaving them with insecure feelings.

Not long before, Indonesians were shocked by the death of Cliff Munthu, a freshman from IPDN (a college that will provide us with civil servants). His death is due to the severe military like training where he was hit brutally. People reactions made the president asked IPDN to halt this year’s new enrollment. Even without a gun, the grief is also the same. Even it is only one person, the tragedy is also a tragic incident.

While gun control is also a good issue, the control over violence in the media is much more important to deal with. Our children saw it through the games we bought for them, through the television set we watch at home, through our anger after a long day of hard work. They saw it and they’ll keep it in their memories.
If they grow up this way, no doubt we’ll face the same problem as the American, may be even worse than that.

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