Saturday, October 21, 2017

how to politically disagree

Feminism. Gender equality. Health care. Climate change. Religion. Racial minorities. 
Votes, elections, and more.

Regardless of what country we live in, political issues have been garnering massive public attention. Two years ago, it had been just that. Politics. But these days, they're trends. Neighbourhood buzz, viral content. 

In every topic from how women choose to dress, all the way to presidential elections, everybody has something to say. You can blame your president, you can blame the media, or immigration laws, or people from a specific racial group. Yet all disagreements seemingly boil down to one conclusion; nobody's right, and nobody wins.


The world is now a jigsaw puzzle of propagandas. Our opinions become pieces that need to be placed side by side; sometimes we get along, but other times, we can't always form a compatible picture. Everyone fights for influence, for being heard, when in fact, none of us has all the answers.

My purpose of writing this isn't to bombard you with some loaded subjects to analyse. I'm also not going to explain every political issue under the sun and try to reel you into my point of view to agree with me. Rather, I simply hope this affects how you approach politics; to add a little softness to the ruthless nature of how we see it.

As a student living under her parents' roof, I don't normally have much to add to political conversation. As a writer, however, my mind is faced with a question. How do we coexist in a world where no one fully agrees to anything?

1. Stay educated. 
Ignorance is bliss, but it also doesn't get you anywhere. Stay updated with the things happening in your country. It's not "grown-up conversation", it's information that you've been privileged enough to receive. In an era where all that information can be obtained through a click of a button, it's a waste to choose to neglect them.

How you form your opinions is entirely up to you; but without facts, don't be surprised when they're seen as invalid. So read the paper or turn on the news, at least every once in a while. It'll be easier to form healthy discussions when you've already expanded your knowledge beforehand.

2. Learn to listen.
Something I've grown to realise is that sometimes, it's better to be kind than to be right. When you give people a chance and try to understand where they're coming from, it helps you consider their perspective, instead of turning them into total antagonists in your head.

The key is to stop seeing everything in a good guys vs bad guys situation. Subconsciously, we tend to label ourselves the "right" ones of the crowd, and the others "wrong". But who are we to be the judge of that? Who are we to call them "biased", when we're all biased at some point as well? Don't we only read the news we want to read, and agree with the people we want to agree with?

Let us try to look past that line we've created. Try hearing people out the way you'd want to be heard. Ask for the reasons behind their argument, and try to learn from their story. People won't remember you for how well you argued, they'll remember you for listening to what they have to say.

When it comes to politics, it's unlikely we'll ever find middle ground. What we can find, however, is a way for communication. When we learn to finally "agree to disagree" and move on, that's how we cultivate tolerance, and mutual respect. Forget being right; just be a decent human being.

3. Express yourself wisely.
Recognise the power in saying something when it's necessary, but also staying silent when it is not. As important as it is to form a logical opinion, it's equally important to know how, where, and when to express it. To what audience do we want to speak? Will our words do more harm than good?

In today's political climate, social media has clearly become the outlet of choice. It's easy, quick, and greatly accessible. Even I love to write small pieces of thought myself, as a way of urging people to think about certain events and then further reflect on it.

However, don't forget that the Internet is vast and limitless. It's where one man's opinion can send a ripple effect throughout many others'. (While a person's tweet may not do anything, enough retweets can cause an uprising, and enough opposing replies can turn the digital forum into a battlefield.)

Whenever you choose to state your opinion where it wasn't necessarily asked for, you are already at the risk of receiving negative feedback. Learn to understand this, so you don't act completely appalled by the thought of people disagreeing with you after you explain your argument. Do stay authentic, but know that freedom of speech can sometimes come with a cost.

Let me end by saying this clearly; it's okay to be young and also care about politics. It's okay to have an opinion. It's okay to ask questions and have discussions with people who are willing to.

I get it; we all hate that one uncle who talks too much about politics in the family dinner. Also, when you're below 20–and I speak from experience–there's a certain look your friends will give you when you start talking about anything political. "Heavy subjects" cause unease; they're not appropriate for a social setting.

There is a time and place for everything (see #3), but my piece of advice for you, that I hope you can take and remember is, you are never too young to care. You are never too young to make a difference.

Despite being labeled as "the Instagram generation", I challenge you, friends, to be political.

Be aware of what's happening. Acknowledge your leaders, and question how they're using their power. Speak up for the groups of people whose voices are left unheard. You don't need to have a lot of money, or a skyscraper in your name, or even a seat in the government. Just be brave. Use whatever skills and knowledge that you have, and don't settle for social injustice when you see it. You have a say in what happens around you.

When something happens and we find more news breaking the silence, there'll be thousands of voices that erupt. As tempting as it is to raise your voice in a world that's already constantly shouting, know that a righteous, gentle whisper can be worth a lot more than an ignorant speech. Stay principled and virtuous when representing your beliefs. You do have a voice, but use it well.

And that's how you build an impact. That's how change happens.

From within.


For a closing note, I'd just like to clarify that I wasn't trying to talk like I know everything. 
Because I don't, and nobody does. 
As always, I simply hope this inspired you and helped you reflect.

 Hope to see you around.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

bbw 2017 book haul

It was a Saturday. The sun shone on the city mercilessly, with a heat that blanketed every inch of the crowded streets. Sounds of traffic mixed harmoniously with shouts from the tired parking staff. And in the morning of that hot Surabaya day, a helpless bookworm finally convinces her mother to take her to the biggest book sale of the year.

BBW 2017 stands for the Big Bad Wolf book convention, a massive book sale event that happens yearly in our region. Until last week, it took place in my hometown, and sure enough, I was dying to go. On Saturday morning, my mom finally agreed to take me there. So we went across town, stepped into the building, already crowded, and filled with thousands of high-grade books all sold at a much cheaper price. In a word? Heaven.

Above - 
One of the first books I picked up was titled Take This Bread. Labeled as a spiritual memoir, it displays the story of one Sara Miles–a once atheist, Democrat-minded journalist–and how she'd rediscovered Christianity when she wandered into a church and joined communion, at the age of 46. Here, she narrates her views on a faith that goes beyond "church culture" or "good behaviour." I've never owned a book quite like it before, so I wanted to try getting into it.

Pictured on the right is a plain notebook I got at an excellent discount. For no more than US$3, I was granted 192 plain pages, a gorgeous binding, with an inside pocket. Because my current journal is running out, this was a good find, and I'm eager to continue journaling in it.

Below - 
The Answer to the Riddle is Me tells the story of a young man who woke up in a train station in India, with no memory of his identity, how he got there, or anything about himself. I've read books that feature mental illnesses before, but never one about amnesia, so I figured this story was too fascinating to miss out on.

Also, I have a deep love for books that portray the different perspectives of people from all walks of life. Hearing a good story from one person can expand your mind, but a good story told by several different people can expand how you see the world. That is why I bought Astray by Emma Donoghue (author of Room), whose story here "lights up four centuries of wanderings that have profound echoes in the present, and offers us a moving meditation on restless times." It won my heart.

Scanning through the Crime & Mystery section, the book I picked up was titled The Daughter. It tells you about a once successful, loving mother, whose life became torn apart by the disappearance of her daughter. Digging into the mystery, she discovers secrets surrounding her family, and how nothing was ever as she believed them to be.

So now, I have a good feeling that these will be some great additions to my shelf. I'm also determined to finish at least one of them by the end of the month.

The biggest (and heaviest) I purchased that day was this hard-cover, 560-page book titled TIME: 85 Years of Great Writing. As far as magazines go, Time is quite legendary, and lately, the world of media and journalism has been appealing to me more significantly. It's no secret that I love writing, and I like to admire and learn from a good, well-written piece every now and then. So when I found this book, I was completely amazed.

The book contains boundless stories; a plane crash in Washington, the war in Cambodia, the Berlin Wall, all the way up to a number of articles featuring the world's most influential leaders; Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, Churchill, and more. With more than 80 different stories and coverages, this was a book tailored to my heart's desires.

A book that makes you more well-educated by the time you finish it is a book you don't want to miss.

(Also, the convention didn't sell it for any more than US$6. I call that Heaven-sent.)


The experience of purchasing a book, I feel like, is that, it's your heart that tells you. 

As cliché as that may have sounded, I think any book-lover in the world can at least know a bit of what I'm talking about. As always, thank you for stopping by!
If you have any thoughts on these books, do leave a comment, I would love to hear from you.

See you around.

Monday, October 9, 2017

why i don't say "broken home"

If there is a topic I always avoid speaking of, it's personal matter. But if it bothers my heart, if it makes my mind restless, if it reveals a truth I feel the need to pour out, then my God, I'm writing it.

During church yesterday, I heard the pastor say, mid-sermon, about how he "came from a broken home". Long story short, he told the story of how he held onto Christ and finally made something of himself, etc etc. He delivered a good message, but the two words kept echoing inside my head.

Broken home.

I don't live under a rock; I've heard this term said probably a thousand different times before. 
"I really liked what he said, because I too came from a broken home-"
"He's had a tough life, a broken home child-"
"They're also from a broken home, but wow, they're really strong-"
I usually stop listening right there.

Not an uncommon phrase, nor an uncommon case, broken home describes "a family in which the  parents have divorced or separated." To countless others, it describes something even more complicated.

I will not shed light on my past, and I won't roll my eyes bitterly if you say it in front of me. But for something that I've understood and experienced myself, it is not a phrase that I like to use.


The dictionary explains the word broken as having been "fractured; no longer in working order". "Failed" or "ended" when spoken alongside the word "family". So to me, uttering these words feels like declaring a family as permanently damaged.

But what do we mean when we call a home broken? Who draws the line?

We've constructed this entire category for families with separated parents, but do we need another term to use for the families in which the parents are still legally married, but no longer talk to each other? What about one that's been fighting for years, living under the same roof with no communication and no love? Would that still be considered "whole"?

Could a woman today call her single-mother-neighbour's family broken, then come back to her own house and fight with her husband as they do everyday until well past midnight, all inside her un-broken home?

What are we calling "broken"? Or rather, who?


As someone who was neither born into a "perfect" family, nor raised in one, I first grew accustomed to it. Growing up, words like "came out of a broken home family" was plastered as a part of my identity. I've acknowledged the parts of my past that have shaped me into who I am today, but I remember how feeling obliged to label myself a "broken home child" made me feel like a cardboard box they slapped the FRAGILE sticker onto. 

After stepping into new areas of my faith, though, I'm starting to realize how much I dislike hearing that term. It has nothing to do with personal shame. I just don't think God would see something broken and leave it that way.

I believe that He's planned everything exquisitely. Every year of my life, to every minute I'm breathing. For every storm I needed to sail through, He already saw the entire ocean in a much bigger picture. As imperfect as my past may have been, today I stand here grateful for the things that were once broken, for they remind me of how He's mended every single piece. If not my home, then at least my heart.


Making peace with the past has nothing to do with what the world expects of you. It has a lot to do, however, with how you choose to see yourself. When a person uses the term "broken home", it's okay to choose not to identify yourself with it as well.

Now, I never wish to erase the things I couldn't change, but I do wish that society could learn to view it in a different light. I know my household isn't perfect, but by God's grace, it now fills my heart with love every passing day. We still share our jokes and moments that to me, will forever be irreplaceable. My family can be a lot of things. Broken is not one of them.

Remain careful of the words you say. Even though "broken home" doesn't sting me anymore, I imagine they'll sting a lot more to a 5-year-old girl whose dad just "moved away", or a little boy who still couldn't understand why his parents had to go to court.

Do me a favour; let's not associate them with something broken for the rest of their lives. Let's not make them feel like another casualty in a set of divorce statistics. Let's not wrap that label around their neck just so people can "understand." You don't know if it might break them even more. You don't know if it might push them back just as they're starting to heal.


After writing all of this out, I know that I could never control how you chose to perceive this message. But please know that I'm not aiming to argue in a heated debate; just to hopefully open a room large enough for discussion.

This was long, and more personal and raw than my other posts, but there comes a time where I need to write like this. There are things I always avoid speaking of. But if it bothers my heart, if it makes my mind restless, if it reveals a truth I feel the need to pour out, 

then my God, 

I'm writing it.