20160106_144454After viewing my blog an Indonesian reader challenged me to say something about love in an Indonesian context. That’s not a direction this blog intends to go very often, but I will make an attempt.

Having recently seen a movie with a kingdom where love is forbidden, I want to start by posing a question; is love essential to living in Indonesia? Let’s look at it a couple of ways.

Biologically, yes. Love (or at least an approximation) is initially critical in life in Indonesia, as it is everywhere else, in ensuring that a baby is cared for in a way that allows the child to reach at least adolescence, a point when love is less essential (for sustaining life). Even so, while it is certainly possible to then experience a life devoid of love that is not necessarily living.

What about culturally? Hmmm. Speaking from a male perspective I would say “yes, love is essential in Indonesia” again, as loving women (or at least pretending to do so) is considered normal and is thus essential to thriving (as opposed to surviving) in the broader Indonesian society.

What about overtly loving another male? Almost certainly “no”, as doing so would at least diminish, and possibly jeopardize, a man’s place in Indonesian society.

What about loving God, or a God? Legally you could argue that yes, that’s essential too, at least as far as being a choice that needs noting on your national identification card.

Loving Indonesia? Yes, that too would be socially essential, but can it be measured? The problem is that Indonesians could only judge their compatriots overt shows of allegiance to symbols such as flags, songs and national events.

And, on reflection, that is all I suspect that love can ever be, a vague sense of something that can only ever be measured by reflection in other acts. But that then raises the problem that those other acts (showing allegiance to the flag, buying flowers with romantic intent, stating your religion etc.) do not, and cannot, ever prove love.

So going back to the original question then, my answer therefore is that believing love is inherently present in those overt acts is essential to giving the acts any significance. If Indonesians have no love, or belief in love, then all acts of allegiance and affinity in Indonesia are devoid of meaning and thus purpose.

You could certainly live that way in Indonesia, but you wouldn’t really be alive. And there are few greater feelings in the world than feeling alive, and I suspect in love, in Indonesia.