In Indonesia diversity is generally seen as a blessing and the biggest asset of the nation that needs to be celebrated and protected. Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in diversity) is the epitome of national identity and an essential source of Indonesian soft power.
Amid signs of growing intolerance, the book Indonesia - Emerald Chain of Tolerance by the Indonesian center for Islam and state studies (PSIK) is a timely and impressive compilation and reminder of real-life examples of tolerance in Indonesia - based on symbols, practices and personas. The mapping of multi-ethnic, multi-religion, multi-culture, multi-beliefs and intercultural and inter-faith practices in different parts of Indonesia provides rich realities of lived tolerance.
With 560 ethnic groups, each using and preserving their own group-and geographic-specific characteristics, language and wisdom - the tolerance of all cultures, religions and practices in Indonesia is challenging. But it seems to be fundamental in guaranteeing a basis for understanding others as a precondition of collaboration, togetherness and cohesiveness.
The next level after realizing tolerance in a community; in a society is inclusiveness, which in Indonesia is enshrined in the Pancasila as state ideology. And therefore, Pancasila is a national consensus that has been distilled from the every-day life of Indonesian communities.
The renowned scholar and co-author of this book Yudi Latif by referring to Sukarno advocates that the five principles of Pancasila could be converged as an essence into one principle: Gotong royong; which could be translated as mutual cooperation, jointly sharing and shouldering as well as finding common ground. In practice that means not only tolerating but also recognizing and appreciating the others.
Yudi Latif has been assigned by President Jokowi in June 2017 to lead the newly established presidential working unit on the implementation of Pancasila (see article below).
While a lot of countries – also in Europe - are currently worried about a weakening of social solidarity, while social tension are rising…. the Pancasila – materialized and at the same time inspired by gotong royong in daily life - provides an impressive set of commonly accepted values as orientation and compass of a pluralist society. And that way of life seems to be also the quintessence of Unity in diversity in Indonesia.
The book “Indonesia, emerald chain of tolerance”, related educational as well as audiovisual products have been produced with the support of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Indonesia Office in the course of six month by the PSIK-team with great passion and empirical research in different parts of Indonesia.
Indonesia, emerald chain of tolerance and the related materials are now launched and presented by the PSIK-team and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in different University and school campuses across Indonesia.
The Bahasa Indonesia book has also been rewritten in English and Arabic to showcase these real-life examples of tolerance in Indonesia to the outside world.