When I was younger, I was placed at a boarding school. Teasing and bullying is the norm in any environment filled with developing adolescents. But there, I experienced the brunt of blind passion from youths my age as I questioned the religiosity of fanatical Muslims.
My comprehension of my own belief was challenged by the rise in number of terrorist attacks by IS extremists in 2015. Perhaps it was naive of me to have directed my questions at my classmates. Perhaps it was also justified that my character became associated with the negative understanding of the term “atheist”. After all, we were young and the passion in the backlash I experienced was a defence mechanism of their belief.
That was not an isolated experience for me. As I ventured into the erratically turbulent climate of politics and the accompanying socialisation, I was exposed to stories of cultural wars between individuals and their communities. Scholastic context was common, but age varied. A few friends recollected their experiences with antipathy due to the sin of questioning and supporting.
Their stories were of borderline abuse and harassment which, unfortunately, was carried out by the school’s voices of authority. The detriment of fanaticism by the scholars themselves worsened to a deplorable state of guilt by association. Distant acquaintances of my friends became the target of harassment themselves because they knew my friend’s friends.
I am aware of how political youngsters my age can have a civil and lengthy discussion on politics over which they disagree but become enraged at one another for wasting the middle lane in Dota 2. The suppressed desperation for dominance that could have ended in a tiring coup d’état of elderly politicians is channelled into hatred for each other, projected by shouting matches through the microphone. Their ability to compartmentalise their feelings into those of cordiality and bursts of anger amused me.
I was also in awe of their passion for making rights out of social injustices while struggling not to make frustration the sole push. The elderly were privileged. They secured conviction through herd politics, but they lost the passionate thought process of assessing the social injustices they caused. For these privileged folks, accountability is only an alternative.
Focus is achieved as light passes through an aperture. A narrow slit focuses light on a subject while a wider aperture brings focus on the bigger reality. To focus only on a subject would blur the rest, but to focus on everything would exhaust the sight.
The narrow slit is not just an analogy of the mind and experience of youths, just as the wide aperture does not only correlate to the aged. I could name youngsters who are passionate yet lack the ability to scrutinise their passion as reality – but I would do the youngsters an injustice if I did not name idealistic old people as well.
Political youngsters who may be civil in discourse reflect their ability to meet the other party halfway. This reflects their ability to acknowledge the validity and understand the conceptualisation of differing arguments.
But they will not always be able to civilise themselves when their passion overloads. The pathological manifestation of passion and perceived reality does not characterise youth alone, as old age carries a parallel narration.
But experience validates the passion held. The firm stand of the elderly is a product of time gained through experience. Their resistance to change is due to the standardisation of their past radicalness. They have mastered the nuances of political conduct along with the accompanying capability of alterations in political ethics. Their passion is for resistance, just as the youth’s is for change.
But why must conformation on the validity of experience be the standard in considering a political player?
Indecisiveness should not be viewed as a sign of weakness, but of growth, just as how persistence in an ideology is not always a value deserving of a spot in the political arena. A persistent stance should not be viewed as a sign of character when it in fact embodies fanaticism.
The fanaticism of the old authorities is just as bad as the youngsters’ passionate defence of premature beliefs. Youth is not the only deserving convict in the misdemeanour of leading with ignorance. The ignorance of the youth is from a lack of experience, while the elderly are ignorant due to an overload of experience and attachment.
Cleansing oneself from the attachment to preconceived notions and personal, yet collective, experience, is a step beyond the trap of intellectual laziness. The urgency of delimiting oneself in contemplating themselves and the opposers is for both the young and the old.
Indecisiveness should be understood as allowing oneself to seek alternatives in understanding reality instead of a simple surfacing trait of volatility. Persistence alone should not be valued without the effort of limiting its encroachment into fanaticism.
Sociological and political discourse should be a ground of mediation between the opposite ends of a spectrum. The detriments of worn-out politicians who refuse to let go of dominance deserve to be magnified for the viewing of all, just as the flaws of the youth have been.
Beyond the differences in how the two generations materialise their power dynamic, their differing acts and stands should be understood from their loyalty to passion and their passion for upholding loyalty.
Criticism should only be thrown in the hope of its reliance in bringing about acknowledgement and awareness of faults. Critical jabs only as attacks to disassemble radical mechanisms have been saturating the sustenance of political consumers. As we observe the rise of movements from conflicting individuals and collectives, we can only wish for the intertwinement of directions towards securing the best for the people.
Until then, semoga kita terus berbakti.