Since I was little, I always moved places of residence because of my parents’ busyness. To finish elementary school, I had to go to three different schools. Even though I always moved around, education has always been a top priority for my parents. In 2010, Ivan’s father passed away in Jakarta, which caused me, my mother, and my sister to return to their hometown, namely Paninggahan and Solok, to settle down and continue their education.
WAIT! But this is not the point I want to make here, but rather my experience of living in different societies with different ethnicities, religions, races, and beliefs. As I said earlier, since I was small, I have always moved where I live, so I have a lot of experience with various types of people. I have lived in an environment where the majority are Chinese, Christian, Catholic, and often mixed. With an environment like that, of course, I often encounter things that smell racist. For example, when I was still in elementary school, I had a Christian friend who attended a school where the majority were Muslim, and sure enough, it was very easy for my friend to guess who was Christian. Racist treatment does not involve physical violence, but rather expressions of hatred such as saying Christians eat pork and other offensive phrases. I, who at that time was used to living and growing up in a different environment, felt very strange about such a phenomenon. I thought, what if my friend was different? Why did he have to get such inappropriate treatment? It was my first experience with racism.
My second experience happened when I was in elementary school, namely in the market where my parents sold. There is a Chinese friend and another friend of mine who is also Minang. At that time we were playing near the shop and listening to a Mandarin song, and suddenly my friend and I laughed because we didn’t know the meaning of the song. Then the song changed to an Indonesian song, and my Chinese friend suddenly said that the Indonesian song was bad—nothing is good—and suddenly this made my other friend annoyed by saying that you don’t pretend to be Chinese, you are Indonesian, and you have never been to China. He also emphasized that Indonesian songs are better than Chinese songs, and the conflict ended when a Father yelled at the three of us for being noisy and thought he was going to fight. This is my second experience of conflict that occurs because of differences.
When I entered junior high school, I did not find any significant conflicts that occurred because of differences. This was because I returned to my hometown, where all of them were Muslim and of Minang ethnicity. I attended school in my hometown of Solok from junior high school to high school graduation, and after high school, I continued my education at a public university in the city of Padang, where I encountered new challenges. It was very surprising because my experience of mingling with people who have differences is very different from my experience when I was still in elementary school, because this is when I feel the beauty of difference.
I saw many people who are friends without caring about differences or even dating. I myself have a Christian friend who is now my own best friend. We have a very close friendship. He really trusts me. He often tells me stories and asks for opinions when he has problems with his family or with his girlfriend, and vice versa. a friend who is very valuable to me because he is someone I confide in when there are problems and who I ask for opinions. He can always provide input, which really helps me. This is supported by his department, namely the psychology department, which supports him in giving advice, not only from random opinions that come out of his mind but from a psychological perspective.
This made me realize that the experience of racism that I had when I was a child was due to ignorance, and the minds of children who were still unstable could not distinguish between what was good and what was right. The scope of my association with friends who have differences has become wider, namely when I joined a very extraordinary organization that has the aim of spreading a narrative of peace and preventing radicalism called the West Sumatra Regional Maya World Peace Ambassador. Through this organization, I can meet and have friends who have differences in terms of religion, ethnicity, culture, and race. There, I can hear their stories about differences and vice versa. I can also share stories with them, and because of this organization, I am more aware of the beauty of differences and the importance of maintaining peace and preventing and fighting radicalism narratives using peace narratives, which mean fighting all evil with good.
Penulis : Ivanium Basmai