The core of the struggle for independence carried out by the founders of the Republic of Indonesia was an all out effort to realize (not only to wish for) a life that impregnated by humanity which really is the value of constructive solidarity among the indigenous people of the country.
This constructive solidarity brings about integration and unity of the nation, which then necessitates a logical consequence: standing up as a nation and a state, free from the colonizers.
That’s why Indonesian independence could not be separated from the unity of the Indonesian nation and from the establishment of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia.
The founders of the Republic not only wished for independence, but they realized the independence in their day-to-day struggle. And because the struggle was inspired by a value which they upheld, they had the courage to sacrifice themselves for the value.
We may summarize five elements of the reality of the independent life from the struggle for independence. They are a really living noble value, constructive solidarity among indigenous people of Indonesia, integration and unity, the praxis of really independent life that is not merely dreamed of but manifested in daily life and the courage to sacrifice.
At this moment, we are sensing and witnessing that the five elements of the really independent life have been decreasing significantly.
So, it is not redundant to state that we are no longer independent. Around the year 1945, we were more independent than now.
At this moment, we are witnessing people upholding pragmatism for the sake of their own advantages, defending materialism and over-consumption to indulge their own desires and sustaining glorified self-appearances to satisfy their narcissistic needs.
At present, we are shamelessly creating instinctive creatures that are almost completely oriented to just only primitive needs such as bodily and materialistic desires and narcissistic longings.
In accordance with this condition, the elites are highly corruptive, like to enrich themselves, but have no sensitivity to or awareness of abject poverty facing millions of people in the country.
Government officials and politicians work not to enhance prosperity of the people but to enrich themselves through misuse of their power.
They talk to each other inside luxurious buildings while people work hard to earn a small amount of money just to survive outside.
In this regard, constructive solidarity among Indonesian people is continuously slumping. The decrease has catastrophic and horrible impacts, such as threats to national unity, sales of national assets to foreigners, conflicts in the name of religious symbols and tribal identities and discrimination against the minority. Of course, consistent with the decline of constructive solidarity, integration and unity of the nation is in jeopardy.
Hypocrisy and dishonesty are widespread in line with the fall of the praxis of really independent life. The absence of that praxis will imprison the elite in illusions.
This is the nucleus of hypocrisy and dishonesty. In the midst of hypocrisy and dishonesty, the elite often talk about their wishful thinking and utter their false promises. Surely, all of them cannot be realized.
With our life no longer independent, our courage to sacrifice for the sake of a humanitarian value also diminishes. Officials who deal with justice have no courage to uphold the value of justice and honesty which really are their original and authentic spirit.
National leaders have no guts to sacrifice their personal needs and desires for the benefits of the nation. They declare their commitment to fighting corruption in order to satisfy their personal and primitive desires.
A basic question is why are we no longer independent? There is deprivation of archaic need which remains unresolved within the architecture of our nation’s psychosociocultural history.
Deprivation is a failure to meet a need that is important to be fulfilled along with the occurrence of a favorable development of person and society. The archaic deprivation is centered on the failure to meet the most basic need of the majority of the Indonesian people for minimum prosperity.
The failure then creates significant poverty. In the past, people were impoverished by the colonizers, while at present they are impoverished by members of the nation who live instinctively, pragmatically, consumptively, materialistically, narcissistically and corruptively.
There is only a small number of the poor people who are able to transcend the poverty by taking and realizing noble values from the poverty itself, such as the value of simplicity which can manifest in a simple life, harmonious co-existence with nature, flora and fauna, and a life that is full of gratitude to God.
When a person, who has a history of archaic deprivation and poverty, has at a point of his or her life an opportunity to fulfill the demand that arises from that deprivation and poverty, the person will use that opportunity to fulfill that demand in the forms of impulsive and compulsive earning of bodily and materialistic advantages for the self.
That occurs when the person gets a position in the government, professional position, functions as a politician, and when the person steps up ladders to join the elite. This is the critical point where independence vanishes.
Starting from the deprivation that demands bodily and materialistic fulfillment, people (especially the elite) destruct independence by themselves.
The most important thrust from the celebration of the anniversary of Indonesian independence is the necessity to overcome and eradicate poverty. Whoever the leader of the republic, he or she should concentrate power to overcome and root out poverty.
The feasibility of candidates of future leaders of Indonesia is neither determined by their age, nor physical appearance, but by their seriousness and courage to liberate people from the shackles of poverty.
By Limas Sutanto psychotherapy-consultant psychiatrist in Malang and chairman of the Psychotherapy Section of the Indonesian Psychiatric Association.