Celebrating love in Jakarta

Celebrating love in Jakarta

Like other celebrations, it is a good marketing gimmick to profit from, a good excuse for shopping at least for oneself rather than waste good bargains. It’s a great opportunity to express affection and care for loved ones, though not many here really care about the whole affair, seeing it as a Western import far less important than our daily software and hardware.

For some who really do care, they have declared the celebration haram, saying it is a celebration of decadency, especially stressing so to the young. The variations in history are a little confusing — as apparently, as one version goes, there was more than one Valentine in Rome beyond the priest that married couples in church despite the emperor’s edict against the marriage of young people; while others say that the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer might have invented the day in one of his poems; or that one can choose several versions of which date to celebrate apart from February 14.

Nevertheless, the warnings are well intended, fearful of negative impacts on the young who may indiscriminately buy into any well-marketed notion.

We would suggest that protective elders and teachers use the momentum for positive purposes, rather than merely let all the benefits go to business — for there is much love missing in our lives.

We witnessed, for instance, the trial of a shocking love-triangle murder of a teenager by teenagers out of jealousy — aside from too many incidents of bullying, some of which were fatal, involving college to elementary school students in the capital and other cities.

In the regular humdrum of life, some people who have lost loved ones have also reminded us to express our care for someone before it is too late. Regarding love of parents, many here express disgust at the notion of old peoples’ homes, saying Asians love and respect parents too much to put them in homes.

Likewise, reports of “families for rent” in Japan lead to surprise and derision of such an unthinkable practicality of children and grandchildren who are too busy to visit their elders themselves and hire others to do the duty.

But rather than ridicule practices in other countries, it would be best to improve our way of expressing feelings to loved ones in our society.

Many in Indonesia are worried about decadence, while many others are even more worried about domestic violence, for instance, and violence between dating couples, both said to be still under-reported as they are considered normal by both young and old.

Cases of bullying, domestic and date violence all mirror a culture permissive of abuse of power — in the name of tough love. We can blame the colonialists, remnants of the authoritarian regime or whatever — but we sure have an odd way of showing love, and ending the violent and abusive part of it would go a long way.

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