Monday, 31 October 2011

The Vision Thing

I'm a great believer in visualisation as a tool to fulfill an objective. When embarking on a project, I close my eyes, visualise the result that I want to have, and try not to allow doubt or scepticism get in the way of the picture. Then it's just a matter of allowing the path to open up and following it until the thing is done. And unless my heart is not in it to begin with, or I'm beset by a sudden fit of self-sabotage, events would normally unfold and result in more or less I imagine. From creating a program to securing the guests in the show, visualising how I want the final product to look like is an effective way of ensuring the wheels are put in motion and that the project takes shape.

But then, if you think about it, this is how all human endeavours materialise; from the simplest thing as baking a cake or planning a holiday, to building a space ship, we begin with some image or a vision of what we want to achieve, and then set about cooking, creating and constructing it. The things that we have, the resources, the tools and the ingredients, are there to help us realise this vision. The key is to stay focussed at all time and not lose sight of the objective, or be distracted by thoughts of failure and lack of motivation.

This applies not only for short term objectives, but also for how we wish to chart out the course of our lives as a whole. In this river of life, each one is a boatman undertaking a journey that has to have a destination in order for it to have a meaning. Otherwise we risk going round and round in circle or ending up the creek without a paddle; all hard work without a clear purpose of where we're going and how we will get there.

A vision is even more important for a country to have; the dream that we all strive for as a collective. The kind of place that we want to have and the sort of people we want to be. Once before its birth, Indonesia dreamt of one country, one language, one nation. Now, decades after achieving the oneness, there needs to be a review of this dream and what it means. When we talk about nation building, we need to have a clear vision of exactly what that nation is about before we could even attempt to know what we should be building.

Unfortunately in the course of our journey as a country, things got lost along the way or got chucked overboard. The country's motto of Unity in Diversity more and more seems like a faded roadsign than a beacon that lights up our journey, while those noble principles of justice, equality, prosperity for all and pluralism are like distant echoes carried in the wind of the past. In the meantime, we sail more and more into uncharted waters.

That is not to say the current reality is not a good place to be. On the contrary, we bask in our wealth and whatever achievement we have: our natural riches, abundant resources, our unique democracy, admirable growth, large population and stability etc. And yet, the journey is still long, and without a clear vision of where we want to go, without a captain that focusses on steering the boat in the right course and reminds the passengers of the destination, it will be hard to put our wealth, resources and energy to proper use.

Where is this country heading to, is the question that we often ask ourselves. We vaguely remember that once upon a time it was built upon some ideals, though for the majority of the young people it is not part of their collective consciousness. Stuff out of history books that have no bearing in their present world of global culture and social networks. And like an angst ridden teenager, we find ourselves fraught with vague yearnings and a pent up energy we know not where to channel; with an awkwardness that oscillates between petulant pride and embarrassed lack of confidence.

Yes, we want to be rich, we want growth and we want to take our place amongst the developed countries. But these are not ends in themselves, but means. Without a clear vision, they are part of a process that could as much take us towards destruction as towards prosperity. To be sure there are many plans and blue prints strewn about, on what to build and what target to achieve. But without the cohesive and overriding objective to keep them together, they are prone to the chopping and changing of every passing government and have as much use as misleading dead ends and side roads that lead nowhere.

And yet we don't need many roads or roads with alternatives. We only need one path to follow, with one destination. A destination that will determine how we steer ourselves, employ our energy and resources, and influence the decisions that we make. With meaning and a sense of purpose. What we need is a revival of the Indonesian dream; a collective visualisation of who we are and what we want to be. Whether as a land of opportunity for all or a melting pot living in harmony, with each other and with nature.

Without the collective aim, we are doomed to going round and round in circle, getting nowhere, constantly bickering and always tinkering. Never acting, always reacting. Never fully understanding what we're doing and why.

(Desi Anwar: First published in The Jakarta Globe)

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