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In fear and faith


June 2012

Why do we attack others? Because we fear. Why do we do personal attacks? Because we fear. Why do we fight at all? Because we fear.

But it’s also because we believe. Believe an idea, believe in a person, believe in our self.

Recently, the topic of faith has been capturing my full attention. An atheist was jailed for 30 months because he was “deliberately spreading information inciting religious hatred and animosity,” proclaimed judge Eka Prasetya Budi Dharma at a court in western Sumatra. Alexander Aan, 30, reportedly wrote “God doesn’t exist” on his Facebook page and eventually started his own atheistic movement on the social media by posting political cartoons. By this, he was arrested and beaten out of the public’s fury.

“What he did has caused anxiety to the community and tarnished Islam,” explained Dharma. Anxiety over what, exactly?

Let’s take a brief look back at Pancasila according to Soekarno’s speech, “The Birth of Indonesia”, back in 1945:


  1. Belief in the one and only God, (Ketuhanan Yang Maha Esa).
  2. Just and civilized humanity, (Kemanusiaan Yang Adil dan Beradab).
  3. The unity of Indonesia, (Persatuan Indonesia).
  4. Democracy guided by the inner wisdom in the unanimity arising out of deliberations amongst representatives (Kerakyatan Yang Dipimpin oleh Hikmat Kebijaksanaan, Dalam Permusyawaratan dan Perwakilan)
  5. Social justice for all of the people of Indonesia (Keadilan Sosial bagi seluruh Rakyat Indonesia)


Right then and there President Soekarno declared our government’s basis on monotheistic values, which have, over time, rooted interfaith issues that only keeps growing by the year. As the most populous nation of other Muslim-majority countries (90% of total population), Indonesia’s faith community is comprised of as many as 5 other religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Confucianism. Not all of these faiths are monotheistic by nature, but the stronghold of our young nation was faith itself – a belief that our nation can stand alone to become one of the most powerful economies in the world.

The idealistic vision of Sukarno back then, as I imagine it, would be a strong nation led by its people because of interfaith relations, not in spite of. Essentially Sukarno puts his confidence in all generations after him to understand each other’s faith through increased tolerance with one another, so as we can better implement richer ideas to the nation’s empowerment and its goodwill. Presently, however, we all know that his vision had almost died in vain.

We can still prevent this from happening, as long as we keep believing in the vision of our founding father. As in the case of Aan’s arrest, and also for the general rise of atheist communities in recent times, I believe they spurt because of the increased radicalism and simply the blind refusal to regard other neighboring faiths. Our central focus has been our differences instead of our shared values, thus forgetting the commonwealth purpose to develop a solid, harmonious country. This is harmful for the nation’s psyche.

More and more people of different faiths attack one another. To the general public’s eye, these “fanatics” have zero tolerance for other faiths but their own. For fear that one could lose one’s “obsession”, one attacks another different than his own to blindly “save” oneself from other false gods – this fear have only increased within all faith communities, prolonging our interfaith conditions to remain as probing national issue instead of a sanction. We’ve forgotten that all theistic beliefs, no matter how different, was embedded within the Indonesian psyche since the nation’s foundation.

In the midst of this growing fear and all the hatred amongst differing faiths, the Indonesian Board of Mosques (DMI) can only preach religious institutions to focus on building constructive communities. “Mosques should not fall into the hands of those who want to send provocative messages that could incite violence and terrorism,” said Vice President Boediono.

My faith lies in the original vision of a peaceful nation – no bombings, killings, and other fights concerning the ill-treatment and disrespect toward other faiths than our own.


Works Cited:

Indonesian Atheist Jailed for Prophet Muhammed Cartoons“. The Jakarta Globe, 14 June 2012. 16 June 2012.
Editorial: Religious Institutions Can Strengthen Nation“. The Jakarta Globe, 28 April 2012. 16 June 2012.




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Bring it on, woman


January 2012




Mental health experts are beginning to understand that anxiety does not necessarily mean a warning for more worries to come. They discovered that how anxiety affects us depends on how we perceive the stresses in our lives: Do you take it as a “challenge” or break it down as a “threat”? “Anxiety itself is neither helpful nor hurtful,” says Sally Winston, co-director of the Anxiety and Stress Disorders Institute of Maryland. “It’s your response to your anxiety that is helpful or hurtful.” Scholars suggests that simply not feeling anxious isn’t the answer. In fact, people who have too little stress suffers as much physiological damage as those who experienced too much psychological stress.

Common sense suggests that the quieter your life gets, the happier you’ll become. However, in modern-day lifestyles, stress is inevitable. Stress is an integral part of our lives, and women, who are more prone to illnesses as they age compared to men, should accept that challenge and manage their anxieties better to prevent, or, at least delay those fatal diseases caused by their inability to cope with stress, which is learned helplessness in disguise. In a sense, stress itself has a sweet spot. Through proper diet, consistent exercise, and adequate rest, a woman enhances her overall well-being alongside the passion for her work. But first, let’s examine the emerging theory behind the symptoms of clinical depression.

Learned helplessness is a formal term to indicate “the perceived absence of control over the outcome of a situation”, as defined by positive psychology pioneer Martin Seligman in his book “Helplessness: On Depression, Development, and Death”. A widely respected finding among his peers, psychologists have now understood that the more people perceive outside events are unpredictable and uncontrollable, the more stress they will experience, and the less hope they feel to making changes in their lives. Recently the National Institute of Mental Health researchers have published a study in Nature that may link chronic stress, now an everyday experience for most of us, as a lead to depression. The area of the brain that’s responsible for healthy stress response can be damaged if the woman is experiencing chronic stress. The hippocampus, where new brain cells can grow, is inhibited when a person responds slower to triggers of stress over time.

“One way to think about neurogenesis is that it’s a process in the brain that allows you to adapt to changing environments,” said Rene Hen, a researcher at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. “In stressful environments where you have lower neurogenesis, this may be adapting to the fact that when you are in a stressful situation, it’s better to stay put.”

In such harsh economic times and stressful working life today, it’s better to develop resilience rather than staying put and backing out of all the things life has been throwing at you. That is, accepting life’s biggest challenges but knowing when to stop when things are too big for you to handle, especially alone.

Nearly half of the American population, about 100 million people, are unmarried, according to the Census Bureau. “But a huge proportion of the population is unmarried, and the single population is only going to grow,” said Naomi Gerstel, a sociologist at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. “At the same time, all the movement nationally is to offer benefits to those who are married, and that leaves single people dry.”

As women, we feel a stronger pressure to marry at a certain age. Although research shows that unmarried people are the ones who contribute more to their society, studies repeatedly show that these singletons tend to die younger than married ones. A new study published on the American Journal of Epidemiology concluded that compared to married women, single ones face a 23% higher mortality risk across their lifetime, and 32% for the single men compared to the married men. Aside from that, marriage actually alters your hormones so that you, by default, experience reduced stress in the long run.

Naturally, two heads are better than one. As both a homemaker and passionate worker, poor health can get in the way of living our highest potential. Not only does finding meaning outside the home and being engaged with the community challenge a woman to be psychologically more resilient, but long-term commitment with a man provides women support too, and in return, taking good personal care becomes more meaningful, especially when children comes in to the picture.

Working mothers are reportedly happier and healthier than stay-at-home moms, concluded a study in December 2011 issue of Journal of Family Psychology. Cheryl Buehler, professor of human development and family studies at University of North Carolina at Greensboro studied how work impacts the well-being of mothers and their parenting based on three areas: sensitivity toward their children, involvement in their kids’ schools, and learning opportunities that these mothers provide their kids (books, enrichment courses, library and museum visits).

Her results matched previous researches that part-time working moms reported less work-family conflict than full-time working moms. Full-timers did not report more depression or worse health than moms who works one hour a week, so this does not suggest full-timers have lower well-being and poorer health than the part-timers. Apparently 32-hour workweek mothers are able to cope with stress as they are juggling with family life. One theory for the function of employment is to increase social skills and gain awareness of their community and the surroundings. “Maybe that translates to the experience they bring to their children,” says Buehler.

However, this is not to say that supermoms are better off than stay-at-home moms. The key is to keep the amount of stress manageable without compromising too much, as low to moderate amount of stress is necessary for healthy growth. After all, stress within control develops the person’s abilities to cope over time, providing a more established support to deal with stress and makes future adversity less worrisome. Way back in the hunter-gatherer days when a woman’s role is child-rearing and to perform “easy” tasks such as gather plants and other small foods, the deserts were an unsafe and most likely a threatening environment. It was far better to stay put than for a pregnant lady to hunt for food out there in the jungle. However, times have changed. Anxiety is within control, and most of us working behind the computer screens and sitting comfortably on our chairs are within safe grounds, while others choose to accept juggling everything at once – tackling deadlines, picking up phone calls, and eating junk food in between tasks. These challenges take a huge toll for the brain and the body, especially for these supermoms, who are better of spending those extra hours to nap or do light aerobics instead.

Laura Vanderkam, author of “168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think”, is a happy, healthy mom who has a flexible working time and therefore the hours to prioritize her kids. Before having children, she thought the start of it would ruin her career, and she would have no time to exercise and enjoy sex. “Yes, life often takes more planning when kids are involved, but planning ahead is a great way to make sure things get done,” she then suggested. “If you don’t have good time management skills before having kids, life will definitely be chaotic afterwards, but that’s not really the kids’ fault.” She did not give up her job to be a full-time mom, nor did she overthink the difficulty to raise children. Neither are a threat, as she perceived them as her personal challenge. In fact, she’s ran a marathon and had a vacation in India after she became a mom.

“I never would have written my book if I hadn’t had my son, and now my book is opening doors for me, professionally,” Vanderkam told The Happiest Mom. “Which means, by the transitive property, that my baby opened doors for me, professionally. That makes me a happy mom!”

Indeed, the sweet spot of stress enables us to handle our work, children, and sex life into perfect balance, women. There’s nothing threatening about finding meaning outside closed doors.










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Sex appeal, shame, and the life of an SPG


October 2011


Sex Appeal, Shame, and the Life of an SPG for The Jakarta Globe




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Batik preserves rich heritage, weaves social divides among cultures


July 2011


Last week, on July 12 to 16, an exhibition dedicated to traditional Javanese batik cloth took place at the Embassy of Indonesia at Washington, D.C. The American Batik Design Competition showcased a vast collection of the rich heritage Indonesian batik brought to world history and how it has fused with contemporary western-influenced garments. With its theme titled “The Spirit of America in the Heritage of Batik”, the competition challenged artists to illustrate the American innovation by making original design pieces in the backdrop of traditional Indonesia, highlighting the archipelago’s batik culture.

The Indonesian Embassy at Washington had  “American Batik” in mind, a new design concept that aims to strengthen U.S. and Indonesian ties and foster cultural cooperation between the two nations, says Indonesian ambassador Dino Patti Djahal.

Listed as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in October 2009, UNESCO acknowledged the batik and its cultural implications to preserve the rich Indonesian heritage, alongside the wayang (shadow puppet play) and kris (ceremonial dagger) in previous years and the angklung (bamboo musical instrument) just last year. “Batik is regarded as a cultural icon with its own uniqueness,” said Aburizal Bakrie, coordinating minister for the People’s Welfare. “It contains symbols and a deep philosophy of the human life cycle — and it was submitted by Indonesia as a non-material element of cultural heritage.” For a developing nation like Indonesia, earning such an honor was only the beginning for its economy.

Since its recognition as a world-class cultural preservation, batik gained popularity in the fashion industry, flaunting its artistic beauty as a commodity for global outreach. Indonesian administrators has been encouraging Indonesians to wear batik on Fridays. Workers in the private sectors and government officials alike put on batik on a daily basis. The casual mall rat, the youth generation, and everyone else walking around the streets of Indonesia, is wearing the batik again.

It has, essentially, identified the Indonesians.

A typical Yogajakartan white background motif. Photo from

You can easily find batik (and fabrics with its patterns) all over the archipelago. It first appeared in Java, where dark-colored motifs evolved into a local favorite. Today, every region in Indonesia has a batik signature of its own. Just as we see the white background batiks everywhere in Yogyakarta, we can also spot the vivid colors enlivening the northeastern coasts of Indonesia.

Batik historically uses wax-resist dyeing decoration technique, which is ultimately a painstaking process of dipping linens into wax, then dyeing them. It’s a traditional art form invented when the first civilizations came into existence in the world. Samples of it can be found all across the ancient Orient. However, none has been found as highly developed a fabric was as the batik in Central Java. Patterns and motifs of the traditional batik were woven so intricately that they can only show how those figures have structured a unique civilization richly-ingrained in the traditional Javanese life.

Even though batik’s development was largely influenced by the Hindu culture, Indonesian archaeologist F. A. Sutjipto believes that the Indonesian batik is a native tradition. Original materials found in batik-making are widespread throughout the archipelago, notably the root of morinda tinctoria tree, processed into red dyes. Other ornaments include the skin of soga tree, the damar kucing, the bee wax, and other plants and animals found throughout the Indonesian islands.

Sutjipto’s studies provided numerous evidence that the batik-making tradition formally took shape through local roots. Tracing back to the early 17th century, he found early roots of the modern batik culture during the reign of Islamic Mataram, just after the Hindu-Buddha kingdoms were replaced by Islamic rulers. This era popularized the present notion of batik reserved exclusively for powerful people reckoned with nobility and placed in higher social standing. During traditional Javanese ceremonies, one could tell the royal lineage of a person by the clothe he or she was wearing, as wider stripes or wavy lines of greater width indicated higher rank, or “clothe maketh man,” so they say.

In the early 19th century, batik began rising to international fame. During the colonial era, the Dutch had profound influence in batik-making ever since merchant Van Rijckevorsel stepped foot on the lands of Indonesia. He brought his batik collections back to the Netherlands and this has exposed its beauty to the westerner’s eye. Consequently, batik has impressed art patrons and the general European public alike, as exporters continued reinventing original prints according to the European taste. Through this cultural assimilation, batik evolved into a valuable Indonesian legacy as it quickly gains a new international appeal.

Entering the age of industrialization, these new breeds of batik officially popularized the batik print, which emerged from the invention of automated techniques and machineries. To reduce the cost of the fabric, patterns have been mass-produced repetitively, thus increasing its volume of production, while the old dyeing technique became simply known as batik tulis, or literally, written batik.

According to professor Michael Hitchcock at the University of Chichester in the UK, batik has “a strong political dimension”. His doctorate research in Eastern Indonesia while attending Oxford University instilled him a keen interest in the batik culture. Recently, he stated that “the batik shirt was invented as a formal non-Western shirt for men in Indonesia in the 1960s, not long after the country’s birth.” He commented on the long-running cultural dispute between Indonesia and Malaysia, saying that batik served as a radical political statement for Indonesians, because the nation was a major member in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), a list of 118 developing countries that came together representing the political, economic, and cultural interests of the developing world. Malaysia, however, was a former British colony that did not really fight for its freedom, he said to The Telegraph.

This fashion statement has somewhat revived in the 21st century since it waned in the 1960s. Some called it a renaissance of the old days, but others in the fashion world are reinventing batik from a traditional symbol and revolutionizing its meaning into a much stronger national identity.


A batik fashion show showcasing fashion designer Denny Wirawan. Photo from Asia Society.

Currently, in Indonesia, batik is the new black.

“Since this batik craze began my business has continued to grow,” said Lala Gozali to The Jakarta Globe. The owner of Gianti Creation, an original line known for combining modern designs with traditional motifs, has reportedly earned monthly profits up to Rp. 40 million (USD 4,400) since it first launched in 2003. By collecting batik and making clothes out of them, she has not only earned a luxurious living through her thriving business, but lived her passion for preserving the Indonesian heritage through her priceless collection of traditional woven fabrics. Some traditional colors, originally brought about from natural dyes, are indigo, dark brown, and white, depicting the Indonesian’s religious influences of Hinduism. These colors represent the three Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva respectively.

The trimurti of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva. Image from Krishna Darshan Art Gallery on Stephen Knapp's website.

Over years of its development, the Indonesian treasure and its worldwide cultural expansion welcomes a variety of influences to its motifs, with each region adopting different approaches to their own artistic taste. Pattern designs of batik in indigenous regions are inspired by a wide range of foreign motifs, as we can normally see the fabrics imprinted with Arabic calligraphy, Indian peacocks, Japanese cherry blossoms, Chinese birds, and other embellishments representing a particular ethnic identity.

“Nowadays, batik artists are too lazy to learn and read about local culture, and this will jeopardize the future fate of batik, because Hardjono and Iwan found their ways through reading and learning,” said Soedarmadji Damais, co-author of “Java Style” during recent month-long batik exhbition at the Jakarta Textile Museum.

Damais was referring to two batik maestros, Solo-based Hardjono Go Tik Swan, and Iwan Tirta, ambassador of the Indonesian batik.

From May 31 to June 25, the exhibition displayed 150 batik collections belonged to the museum and some of the most reckoned batik enthusiasts, including Tatiek Fauzi Bowo, wife of the Jakarta governor, Pia Allisyahbana, founder of Femina magazine, and Meutia Hatta Swasono, former minister of the national organization empowering women and children (Menteri Pemberdayaan Perempuan dan Perlindungan Anak Indonesia). The exhibition promoted the role and history of batik as it is ascending the world stage through fashion, but more importantly, it was purported to raise awareness among the youth population on how it played a significant part in Indonesia’s evolutionary identity since the day the nation claimed independence. “People, especially younger generations, need to know the symbolic meaning of batik as well as the important figures from the history,” Tatiek addressed during the exhibition. It’s no wonder Indonesian gained new pride in wearing batik, traditionally worn for special occasions but now a norm in everyday fashion.

Singapore Airlines stewardess uniform. Photo from Wikipedia.

Like Tatiek, fellow batik collector Ann Dunham, better known as the late mother of United States president Barack Obama, participated in the effort to promote Indonesia’s heritage and its significance. In 2009, Dunham’s textile batik art collection went into national tour for the two-week exhibition A Lady Found a Culture in its Cloth: Barack Obama’s Mother and Indonesian Batiks. It toured around six museums in the United States and made a final stop at The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C., giving a looking window to Americans while taking them back to the richness of traditional Javanese culture, as fabricated in these vibrant textiles.

One popular example of batik’s international appeal is its influence on world-class flight carrier Singapore Airlines – their iconic Singapore Girl uniform in a Sarong Kebaya. Designed by Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain, the goal of 1972 Singapore Airlines (SIA) marketing campaign was to project a cultural reflection of the Asian heritage, symbolizing the Asian grace and hospitality in its cabin service. The Singapore Girl took over passengers hearts and won the Outstanding Contribution to Tourism Award in March 2004 for the 18th Singapore Tourism Board’s annual tourism awards. SIA also took pride after ongoing achievements in their service, now widely knowns as the best airline in the world. To note, they are recently named as the World’s Best Business Class Airline at the 2011 World Wide Airline Awards.

What we can look forward now is the biennial batik exhibition attracting batik aficionados from all over the world.

Indonesia will hold the World Batik Summit 2011 at the Jakarta Convention Center (JCC) on September 28 to October 2. “The event is expected to attract international’s interest towards batik,” says founder of Batik Indonesia Dipo Alam to ANTARA news. The summit aimed to establish a strong networking community between batik makers and its lovers around the world. Through such treasured artistic and cultural legacy, the Indonesian Batik Committee is set to establish the nation as the “Global Home of Batik” within the world community. This summit is a gateway for foreigners to enjoy immersing oneself into the deepest roots of Indonesian culture. Event attendees are sure to experience batik’s enduring charms like no other place in the world can give.

To find out more about the World Batik Summit 2011, visit

Works Cited:

Batik, the Traditional Fabric of Indonesia“.  Living in Indonesia, A Site for Expatriates. Expat Web Site Association Jakarta, Indonesia.

Profile: Non-Aligned Movement“. BBC News. Last Updated: 07 Aug, 2009.

Collins, Nick. “Indonesia tells Malaysians ‘Hands Off Our Batik‘ “. The Telegraph. 05 Oct, 2009.

Krismantari, Ika. “Continuing Indonesian Batik’s Legacy“. The Jakarta Post. 04 Jun, 2011

Krismantari, Ika. “Batik Frenzy Not Strictly Traditional“. The Jakarta Globe. 07 Feb, 2010

Stover, Adrian. “Batik for Americans and Indonesians Alike“. Asia Society.  08 Apr, 2011.





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Population: Indonesia’s socioeconomic divide


July 2011


Indonesia, according to the World Bank, is still considered as a developing country. Recently, the bank also estimates that 7 million Indonesians join the middle-income group every year, showing that Indonesia’s economy has improved significantly in the past few years.

The World Economic Forum’s 2010-2011 Global Competitiveness Report showed a two-rank decline in the United States’ economic performance, falling to the fourth position behind Switzerland, Sweden, and Singapore. Due to its high fertility rate, the U.S. is still the most prominent industrialized nation that is expected to grow throughout the next generations, filling in an adequate replacement level in the workforce.

However, when population is imbalanced, fewer youth population can work and help a nation’s economy to thrive, and more elderly people need social support. “There will be an unprecedented number of people who will be the old old. That’s more people to be cared for but fewer people to fill jobs,” explained Carl Haub, senior demographer of the Population Reference Bureau to USA Today.

Out of the 139 countries listed, Indonesia was ranked 44th, 10 places ahead from the previous year, thanks to better education and a healthier macroeconomic environment. Due to Indonesia’s huge population growth and the expansion of the middle class population, we are increasingly showing that we’re competitive as a developing nation.

“Indonesia now compares favorably with the BRICs, with the notable exception of China (27th). Indonesia precedes India (51st), South Africa (54th), Brazil (59th), and Russia (63rd)”, cites the report. Measured with the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), the annual report is based on twelve pillars of competitiveness: institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education are the basic indicators for economies to grow. Higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, and market size are economic measures of a nation’s capacity to thrive. Business sophistication and innovation are two transitional elements required for any nation to cultivate new ways to expand its economy.

Currently, more than 3 billion people reside in the BRIC nations, covering about 45% of the world’s total population. Early this month, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said that Indonesia ranked 5th in population growth rate after India, China, Nigeria, and Pakistan, with 4 million babies born every year and roughly 700,000 deaths per year. By 2060, Indonesia’s population could exceed that of America if the population control programs remain ineffective, said National Demographic Family Planning Agency (BKKBN) chairman Sugiri Syarief toThe Jakarta Post.

“We already have the fourth largest population in the world, but in terms of the quality of life for all citizens we are in 108th place out of 188 countries,” Sugiri told The Jakarta Globe. Despite the vast array of indicators reported on the nation’s economic health in support of its bigger population and larger workforce, Indonesia ranked poorly on its quality of infrastructure and public health. Nationwide, tuberculosis and malaria are increasingly threatening the Indonesian households, while infant mortality rates are still among the highest in the world.

According to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), Indonesia’s annual population growth rate has averaged 1.49%, well passed the government’s predictions. “The population boom will burden the central and regional governments in terms of having to provide more food, health care, education, jobs, transportation, and other services for a far bigger population,” said Sugiri. This reactive pattern follows Malthius’ Iron Law we visited earlier in Learn to Make Yourself Useful. True, increasing population makes for a competitive advantage in economic performance as we’ve seen today, but with the nation still dealing with a host of other problems, combatting corruption and such, what are the odds of Indonesia to stand as an economic powerhouse fifty years from now?

Infested with poverty, Indonesia’s population will reach 475 million to 500 million people by 2060, or double the country’s current population number if there are no family planning efforts to control the population, said Sugiri.

This means that one in every 20 people in the world would be Indonesian.

In retrospect, as our economy is blooming, our cheap, numerous human labor and consumer market is becoming a huge asset for our country. In fact, the Master Plan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesia’s Economic Development (MP3EI) was outlined just last May. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has set ambitious goals for the nation to become one of the world’s top ten largest economies by 2025. These goals include raising an average annual growth to 8-9 per cent between 2015 and 2025, reducing inflation from 6 to 3 per cent by the middle of the next decade, and investing US$468.5 billion over the next fourteen years, including the improvements in infrastructure.

“We can never meet these needs if we cannot control the population,” said University of Indonesia’s Demographic Institute director Sonny Harmadi to the Jakarta Globe. While not many of our nation’s leaders understand his warning, he addressed that many of the nation’s problems emerge out of a fast-growing population due to increasing demand in public services, especially problems with transportation and fuel subsidies.

The government should contribute their efforts to increase awareness of our rapid population expansion and access to family planning services. It’s good to note that BKKBN has announced early this year that they will be working together with the Indonesian military (TNI) for the Acceleration of Development in Underdeveloped Regions, a commitment to revitalize government’s efforts in family planning and contraceptive campaigns since its fallout after President Suharto stepped down from the office.

Without plenty of investment in education and higher training for the youth population, we are inevitably heading toward a double population burden ahead. Last year alone, the Indonesian population older than 60 years old accounted for 21.4 million people, and is expected to reach 73.5 million in 40 years.

With facilities such as new infrastructure and better living conditions, extra people can benefit in the long run. Industry’s public and private sectors can profit in creating more high-paying jobs to continue improving the economy in the long run. Through high-quality education, Indonesia would remain competitive in its economic performance, improve its competency for innovation to bridge new ways for stretching its global productivity and, hopefully, meeting the President’s goals by 2025.

Works Cited:

BKKBN Expects Heavy Burden As Population Continues To Grow“. The Jakarta Globe. February 22, 2011.

Indonesia May Outnumber US Population“. February 11, 2011. The Jakarta Post.

Indonesia: The Next Economic Superpower?“. June 20, 2011. EconomyWatch.

Osman, Nurfika. “Boost Family Planning or Face a Population Explosion: Experts“. July 7, 2011. The Jakarta Globe.

El Nasser, Haya & Overberg, Paul. “U.S. Population Growth Slowed, Still Envied“. January 27 2011. USA Today.

Sala-i-Martin, Xavier. “The Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011: Highlights“. World Economic Forum. 2010.




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Camping’s ‘invisible’ idea; fear as worldview, part II


May/June 2011


“And so while dreams are the individual man’s play with reality, the sculptor’s art is (in a broader sense) the play with dreams.”

– Friedrich Nietschze



If you haven’t already read, here’s Camping’s ‘invisible’ idea; fear as worldview, part I.

On May 31, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to California Attorney General Kamala, saying that American false prophet Harold Camping is responsible for the “untold numbers of people” that were deceived and contributed their money solely to promote the doomsday, which didn’t happen. In the letter, FFRF claimed that Camping has committed a fraud “in persuading his followers to donate often large sums of money to his organization based on a claim … while objectively conducting his business as though he knew it to be untrue.”

Founded in 1958, Camping’s multimillion-dollar nonprofit organization Family Radio has always been funded almost entirely by donations. The organization’s IRS filings show that they’ve collected $18 million worth of contributions in 2009 alone. According to CNNMoney, they requested an extension of their original paperwork as the station continues seeking approval to solicit financial contributions from its listeners. In Minnesota, they requested to extend the July 15 deadline to November 15, well past Camping’s postponed doomsday on October 21, 2011. 

“The timing, the structures, the proofs, none of that has changed at all,” said Camping on May 23 on his show Open Forum. The preacher refused to talk to reporters until Sunday, when he finally came out of his home in Alameda, California. “It was a really tough weekend,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle. But what about others? How are his loyal followers coping after May 21 came and went?

Psychologist Elliot Aronson, co-author of Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts, noted that “it’s very hard for us to say, ‘Boy, was I stupid!’ The more committed a person is to their prophecy, the more likely they are to justify their action, and to try to convince people that their belief was in some way right or good.” Still, it will take some time to observe the impact these people experience in their lives after quitting their jobs, leaving their families, and spending all their savings to market the end times.

Before the end came, a 14-year old Russian girl Nastya Zachinova committed suicide. The once lively teenager turned withdrawn, fearing the coming apocalypse so much she believes that “we are not righteous; only the righteous will go to heaven, and we’ll stay on earth and face terrible suffering.” Back in California, a woman attempted to murder her two daughters, then take her own life. Regarding suicidal followers, Camping responded to a reporter: “I don’t have any responsibility. I can’t be responsible for anybody’s lives. I am only teaching the Bible. I am not teaching what I believe, as if I am the authority. I am just simply teaching what the Bible says. And I don’t have spiritual rule over anybody.”

Back then, it turns out that Camping’s teachings was never obscure as it has evolved today. Trevor Hammack, an ex-follower of Camping and also a pastor from Victory Baptist Church in Ovalo, Texas, spoke with The Christian Post recently to discuss the Family Radio President before he started working out convoluted calculations predicting the end date.

Camping never failed to go in-depth when interpreting the words from the Bible. He would go through verse by verse in detail. But everything changed when he started to base his own understanding of Mark 4 (Parables of the Kingdom of God) into all his future teachings. What Camping taught others from here is that Jesus speaks in parables, “so when Jesus gets on a boat to cross the sea, well the sea represents one thing, the boat represents something, people in the boat represent something and so he began to use this to interpret the Bible,” Hammack explained to The Christian Post. “Once you go in that direction everything is open for anybody to interpret it the way they want and he left [out] any type of historical context and it just becomes a spiritual parable which he can kind of mold into what he thinks it says. And that’s what happened.” From a psychologist’s standpoint, we may ask, what has gone wrong in his mind?

“I’ve been told I read the wrong Bible,” said Brian Haubert, as he held up Judgment Day posters while parading on the streets of Palmyra, New Jersey. “And then there’s the occasional person who seems to be genuinely interested,” he told NPR while passing pamphlets to passersby. Two weeks till the day comes. The 33-year-old actuary embraced the spiritual message so much, he quit his job without a retirement plan or a savings account, and didn’t really mind. His family and friends think he’s crazy. “I’m crying over my loved ones one minute; I’m elated the next minute,” he says. “It’s all over the place.” Whatever happened there?

>“Problems have become so big, with no solutions in sight, that we no longer see ourselves able as human beings to solve these problems,” said Lorenzo DiTommaso, a professor of religion at Concordia University in Montreal and the author of an upcoming book, The Architecture of Apocalypticism. According to DiTommaso, at the heart of apocalyptic thoughts and fears is a desire to solve two conflicting beliefs. “The first is that there is something dreadfully wrong with the world of human existence today. On the other hand, there is a sense that there is a higher good or some purpose for existence, a hope for a better future,” said DiTommaso to LiveScience. His studies are based on years of research on over a hundred failed doomsday predictions in the last hundred years, which he coined the “apocalyptic worldview” that’s “a very persistent and potent way of understanding the world.”

Conventional Christian wisdom humbles the mystery of the end date. According to the Bible and most Bible scholars, nobody, not even Jesus, knows the exact date of Judgment Day. Only our Father God knows. “In my mind, Harold Camping has quite an account to render with God when judgment day comes,” said Steve Wohlberg, Christian author of over two dozen books about the End Days, to the New York Daily News. “They’re looking at all of these disasters and everything that’s going on in the planet, and this is creating a climate of deep interest in Biblical prophecy.”

Believers of Camping are still coping with fear of the apocalypse. Some lost their faith, others are simply angry. On Monday morning, an unnamed caller expressed his loyalty for the radio station on Open Forum. After watching May 21, 1988, and September 7, 1994, then now May 21, 1988 passed him by, “I don’t know what it means to be faithful anymore because I am really disappointed,” he said to the radio preacher.

Framed in a worldview that has an expiration date, people couldn’t care less about their futures on Earth, a flawed place from which they believe they would soon escape forever. “I no longer think about 401(k)s and retirement,” Haubert tells NPR. “I’m not stressed about losing my job, which is a lot of other people are in this economy. I’m just a lot less stressed, and in a way I’m more carefree.” Other families drifted away from one another because they believe in different things.

EIleen Heuwetter of New York was devastated to find that her aunt, Doris Schmitt, left almost nothing of her estate to her own niece. $25,000 of Schmitt’s will was given to each of the two Heuwetter sisters, while the rest – around $300,000 – goes to Family Radio. “It was a good amount of money that would have helped a lot of people live better today — but now it’s not helping anyone,” Heuwetter said to CNN. On May 2, 2010, Schmitt died alone in her home at 78, never living long enough to witness the rapture that never was. Struggling nearly a lifetime of alcoholism and coping with two children who dealt with drug addictions, the radio station was more than a source for comfort.



“The architect represents neither a Dionysian nor an Apollinian state: here it is the great act of will, the will that moves mountains, the rapture of the great will which aspires to art. The mightiest men have always inspired architects; the architect has always been under the spell of power. In his buildings, pride, the victory over gravity, and the will to power strive to become visible; architecture is a species of the rhetoric of power in forms, now persuading, even flattering, now simply commanding. The highest feeling of power and sureness finds expression in that which possesses grand style.”

– Friedrich Nietschze 




“People cope. People cope,” affirmed Camping when he came back to work on Monday morning. I doubt these words is enough to console his followers.

In recent years, apocalyptic beliefs have popularized survivalism, following through difficult times since 9/11 till the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami. In the quest for creating a grand scheme to solve all the world’s biggest problems, mainstream population starts to ask fundamentalist questions, and so we turn to philosophy, or, as Socrates once said, “a love of wisdom”.

In Apology, Plato famously said to the juries on Socrates’ trial, who questioned the power of the gods: “Death is one of the two things. Either it’s annihilation, and the dead has no consciousness of anything; or … it is really a change; a migration of the soul from this place to another.” Either the previous or the latter, it is crucial to acknowledge the eternal split between the limited body and the limitless mind, a constant struggle to turn away from the consciousness of our mortality, through self-destruction or through managing ourselves well with the mystery link in the eternal mind-body problem philosophers have been trying to figure out for years. In the 1974 Pulitzer-prize winning book, The Denial of Death, renowned philosopher Ernest Becker stressed that we have an innate defense mechanism with response to our knowledge that survival must serve to some meaning or purpose. In this modern age, though, to counteract this problem-solving difficulty we now have cutting-edge technology to construct the digitized self in our increasingly dependent world on augmented and virtual realities. This human-computer-interaction gives a sense of immortality for just a moment, thus an escape from the problematic reality.

“It’s because of a desire — in a world of chaos, in a world of instability, in a world of anxiety — that people want their doubts eased,” explained Tim Simpson, a professor of post-apocalyptic literature at the University of North Florida. Escaping from states of helplessness in life, listeners like Doris Schmitt perceived momentary solace, manipulated by Camping’s voice behind the radio, television, and other broadcasting technology. “They want their fear beat back, and hearing someone like Camping is extremely comforting to them.”

The man is an autodidact, that is, someone who teaches himself. “When you study the Bible, you’re always learning,” said Camping. Only he himself can understand the Bible in his own way, refusing to learn from Bible scholars and studying it in isolation. With a formal educational background in engineering, he “reads the Bible like a mathematical or scientific textbook,” writes Dr. W. Robert Geofrey on his blog. Geofrey was a student of Camping who is now the president of Westminster Seminary California in San Diego. “His education was not in the liberal arts or theology. He had not been prepared to read literature or ancient texts,” nor could he read the Bible in Greek or Hebrew, a requirement for preachers to translate the Bible’s message to his followers.

Over the years, as Camping’s prediction doctrine prevails through mass media, so does his own perception of reality. “Political and moral issues are more inherently a personal judgment,” said Dolores Albarracin, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “There is no risk of experiencing the effects of being inaccurate as you have in science,” she told LiveScience. “Hence people are free to seek information that confirms their attitudes pretty exclusively.” While numerous findings suggested that people who are less confident about their beliefs tend to avoid conflicting perspectives from their own, Camping was very confident about his prophecy, telling The New York Magazine earlier that “I would be absolutely in rebellion against God if I thought anything other than it is absolutely going to happen without any question.” After May 21 passed him by, he kept reinstating his previous theories during interviews and came up with the notion that the “spiritual” rapture did, in fact, occur, resolving to talk his way out of opposing perspectives that are not in line with his own, or what can be theorized as the constant experience of cognitive dissonance. Has his May 21 confirmation bias against different worldviews turned into a whole new “Campingism” paradigm among his fellow believers? What effects does this have to followers of his thinking, other than killing of one’s soul, one self, and others? It’s still very early to tell – or too late to see, as the “invisible” spiritual rapture was over. Soon, specifically on October 21st, it will all be over.

“Everything in God’s plan fits a very structured way – it’s all very structured. On September 7 1994 when I said there was a high likelihood it was judgement day, it was true – there was judgement. It was salvation in a wonderful day. Since May 21 1988 virtually no-one could be saved in the entire world,” Camping rationalized on Open Forum Tuesday night. “On September 7 God brought even more judgement on the churches because in the world where God’s judgement had begun, God lifted that judgment and allowed people to be saved outside of the churches – leaving the churches under the judgment,” he spoke, defending his shift from Reformed Christian traditions to the thought that Satan has taken over all the churches, and the only way to be saved is surrender to the tribulation, and keep looking forward to The End.

Indeed, we fear the end of the world, but we love the idea of the end of the world – so much that we just don’t know how to speak for our ideas. The “invisible” kind. The kind in our own minds.

To conclude, here is a New King James Version of Mark 4 to ponder upon:

Parables of the Kingdom of God

1 And again He began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitutde was on the land facing the sea.
2 Then He taught them many things by parables, and said to them in His teaching:
3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.
4 “And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it.
5 “Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth.
6 “But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. 
7 “And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.
8 “But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced; some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”
9 And He said to them, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
10 But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable.
11 And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but those who are outside, all things come in parables,
12 “so that

‘Seeing they may see and not perceive,
And hearing they may hear and not understand;
Lest they should turn,
And their sins be forgiven to them.’ “

13 And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?
14 “The sower sows the word.
15 “And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.
16 “These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness;
17 “and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.
18 “Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word,
19 “and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
20 “But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”
21 Also He said to them, “Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand?
22 “For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light.
23 “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
24 Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.
25 “For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”
26 And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground,
27 “and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how.
28 “For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head.
29 “But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
30 Then He said, “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it?
31 “It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth;
32 “but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.”
33 And with many such parables He spoke the word to them as they were able to hear it.
34 But without a parable He did not speak to them. And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples.
35 On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.”
36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him.
37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.
38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacjer, do You not care that we are perishing?”
39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.
40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”
41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” 

Works Cited:

_New King James Bible_. Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1982.

Confirmation bias“. ScienceDaily. Science Reference.

Harold Camping says not responsible for suicidal followers, will not admit mistake“. International Business Times. May 24, 2011.

Teen Kills Herself Ahead of Foretold Rapture“. Associated Press. Yahoo! News. May 25, 2011.

To God Be Glory!”

Amira, Dan. “A Conversation with Harold Camping, Prophesier of Judgment Day“. New York Magazine. May 11, 2011.

Barrick, Audrey. “Harold Camping Capitalized Fears, Atheist Group Says“. June 2, 2011. The Christian Post.

Blascovich, Jim & Bailenson, Jeremy. “Infinite Reality: Avatars, Eternal Life, New Worlds, and the Dawn of the Virtual Revolution”. HarperCollins. 2011.

Bonus, Alex. “Rumored Rapture Reveals Spiritual Truth“. Ponte Vedra Recorder. May 26, 2011.

Bryner, Jeanna. “People Unsure of Beliefs Are More Close-Minded“. LiveScience. July 1, 2009.

Cole, Ethan. “Former Student on Harold Camping’s Change From Solid Bible Teacher to False Doomsday Prophet“. The Christian Post. 4 June, 2011.

Ellis, Blake. “Doomsday believer donates entire inheritance to Family Radio“. CNN. June 1, 2011.

Garcia, Elena. “Ex-Followers of Camping Vent Anger on Family Radio“. The Christian Post. May 31, 2011.

Hagerty, Barbara Bradley. “Is the End Nigh? We’ll Know Soon Enough“. NPR. May 7, 2011.

Kaleem, Jaweed. “Judgment Day Predictor Harold Camping Speaks Out (Live Blog)“. The Huffington Post.

Lin II, Rong-Gong & Faturechi, Robert. “Harold Camping: Rapture fails to arrive in Europe; atheist party to begin in Oakland“. Los Angeles Times. May 21, 2011.

Pappas, Stephanie. “Draw of Doomsday: Why People Look Forward to the End“. LiveScience. 16 May, 2011.

Vivaldo, Josephine. “EXCLUSIVE: Harold Camping Ex-Follower Speaks Out“. The Christian Post. May 31, 2011.

Whitaker, Bill. “How Harold Camping Marketed the Rapture“. CBS News. May 20, 2011.







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Camping’s ‘invisible’ idea; fear as worldview, part I


May 2011



“Assuming that rapture is nature’s play with man, the Dionysian artist’s creative activity is the play with rapture.”

– Friedrich Nietszche

We fear the end of the world, but we love the idea of the end of the world. At least, in the world of Harold Camping, self-made doomsday prophet who mobilized the May 21 deception, spreading the idea that Jesus’ Second Coming has a set time and date on Earth.

Over weeks following the supposed Judgment Day, he and his followers have spent millions marketing the prophecy, including his 48-year contribution to the Family Radio network, now reportedly worth up to $120 million dollars. Despite his failed prediction in 1994, stating that he miscalculated last time but now firmly believed his math is right before last Saturday, this time round he managed to pull in $100 million donation for the campaign, putting up billboards and operating RVs nationwide. The price: he has created a subculture of fear, and in return, nothing he prescribed happen at 6 P.M. on 21 May 2011. His disappointed followers, having believed in the approaching doom for some time, struggles to cope with the reality beyond Camping’s teachings, that is, the rapture that failed, twice, to materialize. Now he is “flabbergasted,” and further gained notoriety since his last prediction, saying that something did happen last Saturday, something not physical, but more of a “spiritual Judgment”.

“There’s going to be a huge earthquake that’s going to make the big earthquake in Japan seem like a Sunday school picnic,” said the doomsday preacher to CBS News on May 20. As the weekend goes by with the world still thriving in existence, atheists partied hard. Fully engaged Tweeters living in the United States popularized their individual ideas about The End in the trending topic #endoftheworldconfessions, followed by #myraptureplaylist. This includes tweets like:


Doctor SwaggerLlLTUNECHl

#EndofTheWorldConfessions ….the world ain’t ending son, my yogurt expires in 2013 … #ThugLife

John Coronajohncorona69

>#endoftheworldconfessions I used to steal cookies from the cookie jar :P

The Dark LordLord_Voldemort7

em>#endoftheworldconfessions I am gossip girl. You know you love me xoxo



But the Earth shall be swallowed by a fireball on October 21, 2011, when the world would really physically end.

Now 89, the Oakland-based radio broadcaster has influenced everyone else but the people closest to him, reaching to listeners in Europe, Asia, and Africa. The Christian Post reported that none of his six living children believed in his theories, although one of the seven child stood by his side, along with his wife of 68 years marriage. The Rapture, according to Mr. Camping, would lift 200 million people on Earth spiritually, and that they would go to heaven for eternity, while the rest of the world will continue to suffer for the next five months until October 21. To make ends meet between false beliefs and the reality, he has abandoned from the Christian doctrine of eternal suffering in hell and shifted toward the idea of annihilationism, suggesting that the unsaved souls who did not cry out to Jesus for mercy will not get thrown into eternal hell, but simply cease to exist.

“And they will realize that because they were left behind when the rapture occurred, they will never receive any part of their birthright,” Camping concluded in his bible study on Family Radio, To God Be the Glory!. Taking the raptured aside, it’s still a significant number of people to consider losing their birthrights, out of a vast world population of nearly 7 billion by this October.

A week earlier, Camping sat down with New York Magazine to talk about his plans awaiting the days until May 21. When raised the possibility of the Rapture failing to materialize, he replied: “I’m not even thinking about that at all. It. Is. Going. To. Happen. Because I trust the Bible implicitly, the Bible is God’s word — it’s not from a man, it’s not from an organization of some kind where there’s plenty of room for error. It is the word of God. When God speaks that it is going to happen, the Bible is a very factual book, and God gives many examples of how he has made prophesies and it always has happened in exact accord with what God has prophesied.” Having interpreted the Bible for decades in his show Open Forum, he sincerely believes that his numerological understanding of the Bible is true.

Coming in to the station for work on Monday, May 23, 2011, he walked through listeners with the numerological timeline starting from May 21, 1988, when he insisted that people can only be saved outside the churches because Satan has invaded them, while the growing body of Christian denominations in recent history further lures away the righteous churchgoer from the path to salvation.

“Once we have a theory in our grasp, we begin to see everything through its lens,” said Jeff Wise, author of Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger explained on his blog featured on Psychology Today. “And so just by holding a belief we tend to gradually strengthen our conviction it is true, a tendency that psychologists dub ‘confirmation bias’.” This confirmatory bias, according to ScienceDaily, is a realm of thought where “decision-makers have been shown to actively seek out an assign more weight to evidence that confirms their hypothesis, and ignore or underweight evidence that could disconfirm their hypothesis.”

Assuming Camping’s confirmation date is true, and that the judgment that happened was “spiritual”, his bias must have contributed to an overconfidence in his own theories. From a psychologist’s standpoint, all these could be made up by his individual cognitive processes sequentially materialized into his own words and numbers, confirming the calculated “data” from the parables of the Bible through a chronological pattern of End Times thinking, then preaching these thoughts to his listeners based on “facts”. From reading the Bible, he has passed on these false interpretations about God’s teachings to numerous listeners, impacting their lives through the narrow vision of Harold Camping. “You have no more conscious existence. None,” said the prophet to the unsaved soul.

How are his followers coping with their disappointments after May 21? Coming up in Part II.







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Learn to make yourself useful.


May 2011



By this October, the human race will reach a peak world population of 7 billion. The United Nations predicted our globe to withstand over 10 billion people by 2085, mostly in developing countries.


Chart by The Economist


Even though birth rate is stabilizing since the baby boom in the U.S., cost of living everywhere has dramatically increased since the recent global financial crisis. In 1798, history’s most influential economist Thomas Malthus forecasted an exponential growth in world population before everyone else. He came up with a widely-referred growth model among modern economists when he wrote “An Essay on the Principle of Population” now known as the Iron Law of Population.

This model describes that the population growth rate is faster than the number of supply the human population demands, such as food and energy resources. In this light, we see a rapid increase in human labor in the workforce, thus lowering labor wages and slowly lending the human population itself to widespread poverty. In the end, war, disease, and famine would unfold against the demands of a bigger population, killing itself to reduce the number of global inhabitants.

Rich countries use more resources per capita, stressing the planet more than population growth due to daily overconsumption. This costs tremendous exhaustion to the planet, just as we have seen mass extinction in other species than the human population. With that in mind, we’re now confronted with the global issue of biodiversity that, inevitably, raises a fundamental question of the human race and its survival as a whole: Do we deserve this competitive advantage against other species living on this planet?



Graph from Center for Biological Diversity from USGS



“Over the past 300 years, human biology has changed,” said Robert Fogel, Nobel Prize-winning economic historian at the University of Chicago. As we speak, scientists are also working to increase the human lifespan. Modern technology has helped raise the average life expectancy at a rate of 157% since 1700.

In his recently published book, “The Changing Body: Health, Nutrition, and Human Development in the Western World Since 1700″, Fogel witnessed a shift in the human physiology through steep-climbing global income and industrious economic growth and rapidly-advancing medication and sanitation in wealthy countries, thus better health of mankind. He coined this movement as technophysio evolution. The well-equipped pregnant women and the youth population are now treated with preventive care from diseases, malnutrition, and are growing bigger and living longer. In 1850, the Average Joe stood at 5 feet 7 inches and weighed about 146 pounds, and is expected to live until about age 45. During the 80s, the Average Joe transformed to a middle-aged man that stood at 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighed 174 pounds, thriving until he reached his 75 years of living.

Now the question not only asks whether we as warm-blooded monkeys deserve to live against other animals, killing them then eating them, but also the quality of our lives – Are we still going to under-expend and over-consume food and energy? At some point not so far from now, Homo sapiens have to spend their extended lives rethinking sustainable ways to suffice personal financial expenditure held in balance with humanity’s socioeconomic welfare, important among others as best determinants to predict future population growth is education.

Research shows that the well-educated woman is more likely to have fewer children. The exception is in the United States, where fertility rate is comparatively high among other industrial countries. According to the special report featured on National Geographic magazine early this year, America’s population will reach 400 million, due to teenage pregnancies and the influx of immigrants, which comes as no surprise as our world has become increasingly inter-connected.

UN demographers suggested the rapid rate of global population increase, presently at about 80 million each year, depends on the choices couples make in family planning and practice. “Eating less meat seems more reasonable to me than saying, ‘Have fewer children!'” said demographer Hervé Le Bras during the Population Association of America (PAA) annual meeting last month.

Let’s just hope increased awareness would guide the individual consumer to make wiser decisions in everyday life, starting from the food we eat to the child we bear to live.

Works Cited:

The Human Equation“. The University of Chicago magazine. Vol. 99, Issue 5. May/June 2007. Web.

The World in 2100“. The Economist online: Daily chart. 13 May 2011. Web.

Cohen, Patricia. “Technology Advances; Humans Supersize“. The New York Times: Books. 26 April 2011.

Kunzig, Robert. “Population 7 Billion: How your world will change”. National Geographic. January 2011. Print.

Shah, Anup. “Human Population“. Global Issues: Social, Political, Economic and Environmental Issues That Affect Us All. 13 June 2002. Web.






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Language: The edge of cognitive power


September/October 2010

Edited by Ann O’Phelan



As the years go by, how we communicate is changing at an alarming rate. With the emergence of the Internet, what media critic Marshall McLuhan envisioned as a “global village” only two centuries ago has turned into a reality. The world’s getting increasingly expressive and fully loaded with texted-noises we have to constantly filter, thanks to the rise of the Internet culture that’s dominating our real-time world in this Information Age.  Pew Research Center’s studies find not only that the number of Internet users keeps rising since the beginning of the millennium, but also the duration of hours spent on the Internet is even longer.

Accepting technology as a part of higher learning is now inevitable as the workforce now has expectations for employees to possess the knowledge. “An interviewer can ask you basic information of the company, something they expect you to know already after studying their web sites, during a job interview,” said John McCormick, an instructor of Designing Careers at the Academy of Art University. New breeds of tech- savvy generations, especially the Millennials, are using this global network and changing how the world works. Now, the younger generation has to stand up on their own grounds to compete in becoming leaders of their own realities in this social-network era, developing themselves through great communication skills in both face-to-face and on- screen. Taking all outspoken voices aside, those less extroverted youngsters can function well working within the business world, especially by marketing their own ideas, if they are provided the training to do so. They possess the competitive advantage of being better listeners than extraverts to effectively lead this texted-noisy landscape we are living in.

Social-networking feeds from sites, namely Twitter, receive a common complaint about “noise” updates from users. There is even an application, Mixero, that was specifically designed to filter irrelevant information for these users, who reportedly have problems with “signal-to-noise ratios” on the 140-character, text-based platform. Text, i.e. the written word, is the most widely tested languages along with mathematics, and they both function as the essential motor skills required to carve any subject’s personal career path. In this new working environment rich in informative resources accessible anytime and anywhere, a scriber’s text, like the expressions of the typist on Twitter, is becoming more highly valued than any other time in history.

As the nature of the mirror-world Internet is providing this virtual platform for introvert users, their platform history reflects their levels of intelligence based on word economy to best represent their thoughts. Likewise, traditional college-entrance examinations review prospective applicants through written answers that reflects not only their thinking patterns, but also tests of reading fluency – the basic practice to speed up cognitive abilities, thus improving a  subject’s attention span through gathering information relevant to the reader. Tests such as the SAT and GRE examinations review applicants’ level of intelligence mainly through their componential intelligence, one of the Triarchic Theories of Intelligence proposed by psychologist Robert Sternberg during the late 20th century.

While introverts are socially marginalized by lacking the other two types – experiential and contextual – the new world of texters is providing all the necessary ecosystem to enhance these intelligences, as long as these solitudes follow their hearts, otherwise what storytellers call their personal narrative. Take Mark Zuckerberg, founder of the virtual social phenomenon Facebook who was never really in the social scenes during his college years attending Harvard University. The self-confessed introvert always thought that Facebook was just “a Harvard thing”, but today it has made him one of the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.

As new ways of thinking form, new behaviors arise, and suddenly, creating our dream destinies into reality becomes possible. Findings at the PEW Internet & American Life Project predict that the line between augmented and virtual realities will become almost indistinguishable by 2020. “Nothing penetrates, or punctures. The real, which used to be defined by sensory immediacy, is redefined,” stated Sven Birkerts in his article “Reading in a Digital Age” from the Spring 2010 issue of The American Scholar. This mirror world provides a real-time feedback for the introvert, augmenting his “real life” with his missing components – the practical and experiential intelligences in his mind.

Considering the seven types of intelligences coined by developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, language can be a useful tool to combine with the others to enhance the general intelligence factor of the subject’s cognitive abilities. The seven types include linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences, along with understanding nature.

This generalization of intelligences underlies all intellectual behaviors, as theorized by Charles Spearman in 1923. Language, coupled with intrapersonal intelligence that introverts dominate out of “intransitive thinking,” such as through reading fiction and listening to music, provides what Birkerts called “contemplation”, much as when the subject is spending his time interacting within the virtual social-networking realm that translates into a moment of self-reflection. These isolated activities require a process of “thinking for its own sake, non-instrumental, as opposed to transitive thinking, the kind that would depend on a machine-drive harvesting of facts toward some specified end.”

According to the recent feature from Psychology Today, “Revenge of the Introverts”, Laurie Helgoe explained that introverts seek meaning in their lives by communicating with themselves during their moments of solitude, as opposed to leaning towards contemporary cultural emphasis on the search for personal happiness in life. In these changing times, almost every field of industry is becoming information-driven, and these personal reflections, when communicated with an additional language, may just be the answer for educating prospective students to become the next world leaders. By definition, the Encyclopedia Brittanica refers to a particular language as a “system of conventional spoken or written symbols used by people in a shared culture to communicate with each other”. Having just graduated from CUNY Queens in New York, Jeffrey Ho now holds a cum laude Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics & Communication Disorders. Growing up in Singapore for 10 years in his early education, he has adopted English as his first language while practicing conversational Bahasa Indonesia – his native language – every now and then.

“No matter where you go, English will always be the main language for communications,” said the 24-year old introvert who also holds a Minor in Japanese language and culture. Being immersed in the East-Asian practices has motivated him to serve the public by communicating his intellects with more depth and a richer eye that improved his spatial intelligence. “Monolinguals are essentially underutilizing their abilities: Brain scans shows that while monolinguals are established language centers such as Broca’s area [part of brain that is associated with speech], bilinguals employ far more of the neural landscape when expressing themselves,” wrote Carlin Flora in her recent article “Double Talk” published in the same issue of Psychology Today.

While leaders have to be expressive of their personal beliefs, inarguably extraverts can communicate to more people at one time with their self-confidence. On the other hand, a UK study on learner difference at the Higher Education Academy finds that “extrovert students worry less about accuracy and have a tendency to take risks with their language,” and for the multilingual introverts have the benefit of maintaining their objectives in multiple contexts, or what the scholar calls “the quality of a leader”. Still, Jeffrey values his in-depth understanding in the mechanics of English language. “Without English, you cannot survive in this world.”



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