Avoid Hatred, Build Bridges

The second day of the Frans Seda Foundation Seminar 2017 started with a half day visit to Kompas Daily Newspaper’s office in Palmerah Selatan, Jakarta, Indonesia. Kompas is a reputable media outlet which the late Frans Seda established along with Jakob Oetama, PK Ojong, and IJ Kasimo in 1965.

At Kompas office, the participants – 10 people from Indonesia and 10 people from the Netherlands – were received by Kompas Gramedia’s CEO Lilik Oetama, Deputy Publisher of Kompas Rikard Bagun, Editor in Chief of Kompas Budiman Tanuredjo, and several other members of Kompas’s board of editors.

Before having a discussion with Kompas’ team, Frans Seda Seminar’s participants firstly listened to the story of the late Frans Seda from Dolf Huijgers, Chairman of Frans Seda Foundation and Ery Seda, a sociologist, who is also the eldest daughter of Frans Seda. Dolf highlighted Frans Seda’s sense of social justice and passion for education and youth issues. To cherish the spirit of Frans Seda, he asked the seminar’s participants to build “bridges” between people from different backgrounds by collaborating in defining important things they aim to solve, thus propose concrete proposal on sustainable projects to contribute making the world a better place.

Ery Seda at Kompas Gramedia Group
Ery Seda at Kompas Gramedia Group

There are several relevant key messages the participants can learn from Frans Seda’s values, as being emphasized by Ery Seda. First, never use the word of hate and hatred so easily, especially to those who are different from us. Hate will only hurt ourselves, not people we hate. Frans Seda fought for the Indonesian independence, but he never hated Dutch. He received a scholarship to study at Tilburg University in the Netherlands in the 1950’s, spoken in Dutch, and having everlasting friendships with Dutch colleagues. Frans Seda did not hate the Dutch, but only fought the Dutch colonial power. He refused to see things in the binary of black and white.

Instead, Frans Seda loved to build bridges in between people having different identities. In order to do so, we need to understand that although having so many differences, firstly we are all human beings. This very value is now contested by the uprising of negative political populism. In contrast to building bridges, people start to build “walls” to separate people with different races, ethics, and religions. Globalization that supposed to pave the way to a global citizenship thus creating a more peaceful, inclusive, and cosmopolitan world, is allegedly dividing people even more.

Another important point the seminar participants can learn from Frans Seda is that he was very firm on his principal and never step back on it even though it was not popular and could possibly make a lot of people disliked him.

Fake News

After finished listening to the story of Frans Seda, the participants had a fruitful discussion with Kompas Newspaper’s team. The discussion brought up a wide range of issues, starting from Kompas strategy to engage young readers, and its effort to survive the media turbulences in the era of digital disruption. The issue of fake news or hoaxes information also took the participants attentions. Rikard Bagun explained, hoax information distribution – mainly through social media – has become a major problem in Indonesia, especially when the number of smartphones devices is double the number of the Indonesian population. Social media has also been used by radical groups to widespread their ideology.

Everybody having access to the internet can be a producer of information. It is becoming more difficult for people to separate which information are fakes and which information are facts. Some times, both are mixed up. In this situation, the role of mainstream media become more important as an information clearing house, to separate facts from hoaxes, and to separate voices from noises.

After the discussion ended, all of the participants continued their journey to Soekarno Hatta International Airport to take a flight to Yogyakarta, where they will be spending five-day discussing Global Citizenship. At the airport, they competed to fulfill exciting and challenging group assignment, which mainly related to group wefie photos. Among other things, they had to take wifie pictures with men named Budi, women named Annisa, and also to provide massage services to random people.

The second-day programs have provided hints that during the week, the participants will be discussing a serious issue, but still having fun while doing it.