Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On happiness

For a while it was bad and then good and then not so good.  There is no single year that compares to that one year circa 2009-2010 when everything was always so good even when bad things happened. Not being sentimental.  Just remembering that I too can feel alive and had felt alive for a sustained period.  Alive despite the fact that everything was good.

In this country, in this city, in this room where I work and become distracted by my work from the interesting things that should be distracting me from work, I have lost a little something.  Time, perhaps. Imagination, perhaps.

What's been happening lately?  Not much, same old.  They are burning books and banning mini skirts and jailing atheists and harassing lesbians and decrying sex education and attacking churches. The women don't want gender equality because it makes women smarter and leads to higher divorce rates. But everybody is still having sex and enjoying it, thank God. Everything good is a blessing from God, and everything bad is a result of our sins.   Mr. Right seems to think that last bit is a little unfair and innately flawed. We think that the liberal-minded Indonesians are a silent majority but suddenly Kompas releases a poll that shows about 70% of respondents want a more conservative government. Well that's swell.

This country, according to a poll by The Economist, is among the world's happiest countries. I would agree because essentially, happiness is indeed the culture.  It is not like in Russia where it is taboo to say you are happy because that would mean you have individual freedom to acquire happiness and who, in the name of dead communist warriors, gave you that right? No this is not like that. In this country you do not say you are unhappy, because that would mean that you are not grateful for what God hath bestowed upon thee. 

"How are you?"

"Alhamdulillah, thank God, I am healthy."

"And your family?"

"Alhamdulillah, they are healthy too."

You see.

So, since everything good comes from God and everything bad is a sign of ungratefulness to God, everybody wishes to have more God in their lives, in every aspect of their lives, in their spiritual, physical, sexual, and political lives. And to take it to the next level, everybody wishes to have more God in everybody else's lives.  My own mother laments and moans and complains. She worries that if I do not pray five times a day to God, how will she earn extra points to go to heaven if she is deemed to have failed to educate me in faith? And if I do not pray five times a day to God, how am I ever going to lead a happy life when God refuses to bestow me with blessings? It will be a tragedy of the worst kind, she warns.You will lead a miserable life.

I feel alive with anger and frustration and curiosity and the acute knowledge that I am happy of my own volition, even when I'm sick, or sinning.  I would be a little happier if I could make something of this stored pressure, instead of review contracts.

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