World Culture Forum (WCF) was a forum held by the Ministry of Education of Indonesia, starting from 10 October to 14 October in Bali. The forum was attended by government officials, ambassadors, and international and public participants. The theme for WCF 2016 was about Culture for Inclusive Sustainable Planet. Cultural visit, symposiums, cultural performance and International Youth Forum were some of the activities in WCF 2016.
I was lucky because I was chosen to be one of public participants to join this forum. Every participant was given the choices to join what symposiums they were interested in. I joined two symposiums which are the most interesting for me. The first symposium was Reviving Culture for Rural Sustainability and the second symposium was Cultural Diversity for Responsible Development. In this writing I will try my best to share the knowledge that I had gained from this forum, hope it can be useful and will inspire many people as well.
Reviving Culture for Rural Sustainability
The first symposium was opened by the first speaker, Aleta Baun, who is familiar to be called Mama Aleta, a lady from NTT who struggled and strived to save her land from the destruction of mining. A very touching and breathtaking presentation started by her quote which said “We do not sell what we cannot create”. Mama Aleta was one of the people in NTT who rejected the coal mining in NTT, as she witnessed how mining is so destructive and dangerous for the nature. Together with other activists she fought against the mining company (and unfortunately also the government) to save the nature. The struggling wasn’t easy though, Mama Aleta was threatened to death by the company, and her family was also physically and mentally harm. She mentioned how she had to hide and survive in the forest for months only with her 5-month baby because the people from mining company tried to kill her. But all the anguish, threats, torture, and fear did not stop her and other activists. After 13-year fight, they managed to close the mining, and now Mama Aleta is one of DPD members for NTT. Culture which teaches people to save the nature because nature is created by Almighty God, is what has inspired Mama Aleta to keep fighting. She knows that people have no right to sell what they cannot create, if people cannot create the life, then do not try to sell and harm the life. If only every human in the world were like her, I am pretty sure world will not face climate change now and no one needs to suffer because of the disaster created by human.
The second speaker, Prof. Lanying Zhang, Director for Liang Shumning, talked about rural reconstruction in China. The problem of urbanization and remote rural areas happens as well in China. Urban cities seem so promising for a better life, thus more and more people move from rural areas to urban cities. The reasons are mainstream and common, because people do not want to live a hard life, especially to be a farmer. Other problems are inequality gaps, conflict between human and nature, and lost balance between human capacity and needs. Human and nature become two different things which cannot live in harmony. People destroy and exploit nature for the sake of living. More and more people are also lack of capacity because of the imbalance distribution of education which leads to even more complex social problems.
The solutions taken to solve the urbanization is by boosting the agriculture, because agriculture is one of the main income for the rural areas. Liang Shuming helps to spur the agriculture in rural areas because they know that agriculture can lead to a sustainable production, sustainable lives and fulfillment of life. One of the ways to spur the agriculture is by creating New Rural Regeneration. This movement focuses on educating young generations to support rural development. They are also taught to create a community system where cooperation with farmer is tightly bond. By this movement, it is hoped that in the next few years, people in rural areas can realize how rich they are if they can utilize the agriculture and be more independent.
The last speaker for this symposium was Mr. Lee Soon Tak, from Yeungnam University, South Korea. His presentation was focus with the water issue which has also become a problem. Water as a basic for life survival needs more attention thus we can reach SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) which foster the usage of water for drinking, sanitation and hygiene, water quality, water use, water resources and eco-system. He talked also about Saemaul Undong, a political movement for a sustainable rural development. Saemaul Undong is originally from South Korea and has been adapted in many countries. Its main objective is to boost village economy by instilling the diligence, self-help and cooperation. Saemaul Undong is a huge success as it could bring the villages in South Korea to rise from poverty as the post-war effect.
It can be concluded that the main idea from first symposium is to convince people that culture can be a main source for sustainable and safe economy development in rural areas. Industry is not the only way to build an economy development, culture with its value can be also the main source for the income also. Bali is one of the good examples where culture is mingling together with its development.
Cultural Diversity for Responsible Development
The second symposium I attended was Cultural Diversity for Responsible Development. The first speaker was Din Symasudin, former President of Majelis Ulama Indonesia. He talked about how pluralism is important in a diverse country like Indonesia. Din Syamsudin also mentioned how Islam teaches about pluralism which consists of three basic teachings, they are respecting the differences; competing in goodness; and unity and inclusion of society. He took Medina Charter as an example about how pluralism is supposed to be. In Medina Charter, every single community, ethnic, and religion is entitled as umma, and everyone shares the same responsibility and rights. However what becomes problem now is people focus a lot with human rights without even aware about their responsibilities, he mentioned. People compete to yell louder about human rights but they do ignore their responsibilities as God’s creature and also as part of society. Din Syamsudin also instills the audience not to enter the sacred zone, because it is vulnerable. Thus pluralism will not make us lose our own identity, regarding our religion, culture and nationality.
The second speaker was Ahmad Fedyani Saifuddin, Professor Anthropology from University of Indonesia. After Din Syamsudin talked about how pluralism can be a solution of peace in diverse society, Ahmad Fedyani discussed how multiculturalism actually has “limits”. The limits of multiculturalism are the realities of social, politics and also economy. People will prioritize what’s related to economy and power even when it often harms the multiculturalism and pluralism. Multiculturalism also often leads to friction, conflict and radicalism, which can happen anytime because of its limits. However, multiculturalism also brings the positive impacts which can enhance democracy, accelerate human rights and promote equality.
The third speaker of this session was Moncef Ben Abdeljelil, a Professor of Anthropology from University of Sousse, Tunisia. Before beginning his presentation about challenge of culture seen from few reflections with reference to Muslim contexts, he firstly mentioned what has been delivered by Din Syamsudin about pluralism all can happen in Indonesia, but not in Tunisia, one of the countries in conflict in Middle East. He also mentioned, if pluralism is such a solution, then why wars are everywhere? Moncef Ben Abdeljelil came up with a concluding perspectives which propose four orientations to reach a responsible development, they are: dealing with education, relating to artistic production, concerning the legal reforms, and interests political leadership. Seeing in Muslim societies the common ground needed is to rethink the issue of truth.
It can be concluded that a responsible development needs involvement from every aspect and party to boost the peace as the main foundation of responsible development itself. Respecting others and being tolerant are the keys to avoid the conflicts. Diversity is just like culture, can be a very useful resource for the prosperity.
NB: This writing hasn’t covered all things discussed in the symposiums. I apologize for any missing information; any inadequacy is purely my mistake. Thank you