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Tuesday, May 01, 2007


When talking about MAYDAY, I remember one topic to be discussed in my class—Early American Literature. My lecturer asked us—my classmates and me—to read NEW ENGLISH CANAAN written by Thomas Morton.

As we all know, after America was “discovered” (many books published recently in America no longer use the word ‘discover’ anymore when referring to that event) by Christopher Columbus in 1492, in the beginning of the seventeenth century many people poured in from England. Around twenty-seven among one hundred people who were in Mayflower were Puritans who considered themselves as soldiers in a war against Satan. They set foot on Cape Cod Bay some time in November 1620. Some reasons these “first” settlers left their mother country to the New World were:

 Conflict over religion. This encouraged the Separatists to search for religious freedom in other areas.
 Search for political freedom.
 Widespread unemployment
 Economic ferment.
(From Rise of the American Nation by Lewis Paul Todd and Merle Curti, 1972: 24-26)

Inspired by the success of the Puritans to establish new dwelling places in the New World, Thomas Morton went to the land John Winthrop—one early governor in Massachusetts—called as “a city upon a hill”, a land chosen by God to worship His Name and His Church. However, when in England, Morton was known as a capable attorney doe the London-based Council for New England and a friend of many highly placed persons at the court of King Charles I, all were strong supporters of the Church of England and unsympathetic to the Puritans.

In his NEW ENGLISH CANAAN, Morton wrote the incident of Maypole that happened in the spring of 1627 to celebrate the death of winter and to honor Saints Philip and James at Merry Mount Plymouth. This kind of celebration was a secular holiday harking back to the Roman festivals in honor of the renewal of vegetative life. With the help of the Native people, Morton erected a pole and held revels together, singing, dancing, drinking, while also looking for life partners among the visitors. Practically they had fun.

However, the Separatists (read  the Puritans) considered this rite as Satanic mirth so that they arrogantly forced Morton to end it. Morton that used to be close to King Charles I that opposed to the Puritans was powerless in the New World so that he could not do nothing but stopped it. He was even then sent back to England forcefully.

The incident showed that whoever belongs to the majority will feel that they are the right one to decide which one is right which one is wrong. The Puritans seemed to forget the main reason for them to escape from England—search for religious freedom. After they got it, easily they considered practices of other religion or belief Satanic and condemned it. They themselves did not give freedom to other people to practice what they believed.

In Indonesia, luckily or unluckily Muslim is the majority. Thus, Muslim people think that they deserve to hold most important roles in the government, and make policies based on the religion they adhere. Therefore, the non-Muslim often feel marginalized.

In other parts of the world, such as in European countries, or America itself, Muslim people belong to the minority. They are marginalized there. Ever heard a Muslim got a chance to have an important position in the government in America or European countries? Very rarely if not never at all.

This reminds me of a movie—CRASH. It depicts the danger of prejudice to other ethnic group or religion. People can easily kill other people only because of prejudice that does not have any basic at all.

I can imagine if non-Muslim is the majority in Indonesia, the Muslim will be marginalized too, just like their brothers and sisters in other parts of the world. The tendency that the majority feels they are the right one so that they have full right to discriminate other parties will always happen.

I dream to live in a world where there is no prejudice to those who are considered the second.
I dream to live in a world where there is no arrogance only because those who do that are the majority.
I dream to live in a world where there is no attack to other religions, other ethnic group, other community.
I dream to live in a world where there is no THE OTHER.

I know what I dream is only a utopia.

In a way, I am more convinced why those brilliant people (from the past time) felt important to ‘invent’ one thing they called ‘religion’ or ‘faith’. It is because inside everybody’s heart—I am included of course—there is greed to conquer the others, to be called as the most powerful, the most genius, the number one. They themselves cannot appease this greed so that they need one power they believe beyond their own power.

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