Why We Should Have ‘Revolusi Mental’ in Our Reading Habit

Reading Light/ Ryan Pendleton

by: Harry Febrian

This article was first published on the Global Indonesian Voices

Being a lecturer, there’s a sense of horror occupying my mind every time a new semester starts. This feeling, which I believe is also experienced by most of my fellow lecturers, is due to one simple reason: how to convince the students to read a book.

It’s supposed to be a normal thing. Lecturer uses a book to prepare teaching material and student read it before class. As the class begins, they will discuss the material and lively discussion will kick in. Everything seems perfectly fine.

Except it rarely does.

In fact, convincing students to read books becomes one terrifying task for a lecturer. I usually spent 15-20 minutes of my first class trying to persuade my student of how important it is for them to read – juggling my argument from physiological (how it improves your brain cell), emotion (it makes you relax), to psychological (it increases your empathy) perspectives and so on.

This semester, I got additional ammunition: ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). It is imperative, I said, that we read a book because we will have to compete with our neighboring countries, which are definitely hungry to hunt a jobs in Indonesia due to its economical growth prospect.

Continue reading “Why We Should Have ‘Revolusi Mental’ in Our Reading Habit”


Indonesia’s Small Acts of Defiance Can be Big Blow for IS

Dita Alangkara/AP
Dita Alangkara/AP

by: Harry Febrian

this article was first published in The Jakarta Post

Everybody was shocked by the attack in Jakarta on Jan. 14 that resulted in the deaths of eight people, including the alleged perpetrators, and dozens injured. Suddenly, Jakarta became the center of the world’s attention.

Terrorism is complicated and sometimes hard to define. Jeffrey D. Simon (1994), for example, reports that at least 212 different definitions of terrorism exist across the world. But from all the hustle and bustle of hundreds of definitions, researchers Alex Schmid and Albert Jungian from the University of Leiden found that “causing fear” is a concept that appears in 51 percent as the main component of terrorism.

As the tragedy was unfolding, emotional messages poured out through social media. People were angry, sad and shocked. But if fear was what the terrorists hoped to inflict, they failed.

Within hours, people took back social media in an act of defiance. People showed solidarity through hashtags, tweets, statuses and even memes. Jokes were exchanged, shared and reshared. Instead of talking about the terrorists, people discussed ordinary people: a satay seller who calmly grilled his wares near the crime scene, police personnel and their good looks, people taking selfies near the blast debris and much more. Some even took to Instagram, selling shoes similar to the ones worn by pictured police officers.

People have hailed this as an example of Indonesian resilience in the midst of terror. For some, this might be analyzed not as an act of bravery, but ignorance. The pessimism, of course, has a legitimate standing. But to see it in another perspective, especially from the Islamic State (IS) movement, which claimed responsibility for the attack, these trivial things can deal a huge blow to their plans to expand their network in Indonesia.

To understand this, we must go back to the beginning of IS. In 2014, the term “femtorisk” was coined by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America (PNAS). From the word “femto”, a prefix meaning one-quadrillionth, the term is used to refer “a numerically small phenomenon capable of exerting an outsized impact on global politics”.

Continue reading “Indonesia’s Small Acts of Defiance Can be Big Blow for IS”

In Fighting Radicalism, We Must Go Beyond Censorship

Christina Goggi/Flickr
Christina Goggi/Flickr

by: Harry Febrian

this article was first published in The Jakarta Post

The government’s move to ban websites allegedly promoting radical views should come as no surprise. After being bombarded by several extremist-related problems, such as the group of Indonesians who attempted to cross over to Syria via Turkey and the broadcast of videos in the Malay language used to woo Indonesians to join the Islamic State (IS) movement, the government was forced to do something.

It has been somewhat of a pattern. Whenever signs of radicalism arise, the government reacts. But sadly, oftentimes it only shows that the government lacks the initiative to fight the radicals and can only generate hasty and reactive moves. Continue reading “In Fighting Radicalism, We Must Go Beyond Censorship”

“Jurnalisme” Obor Rakyat

Anne Ahira

Oleh: Harry Febrian

(Dimuat di situs Satu Harapan, 23 Juni 2014)

Belakangan ini linimassa di media sosial seperti Facebook dan Twitter cukup ramai dengan masalah tabloid Obor Rakyat. Ini sebuah publikasi tak jelas yang mendadak dikirimkan ke berbagai tempat yang merasa tidak pernah memesannya. Mulai dari Bandung, Kediri, hingga Madiun. Sejumlah pesantren juga jadi sasaran. Ambil contoh Ponpes Ulumul Quran. Menurut pimpinannya, Munir Abas, yang juga Ketua Pimpinan Cabang Nahdlatul Ulama Kabupaten Bekasi, tabloid itu datang begitu saja tanpa jelas siapa pengirimnya.


“Sangat mengadu domba, menyebar fitnah, dan kebencian,” kata Munir. Continue reading ““Jurnalisme” Obor Rakyat”


Modern superhero is an illusion.

No matter how great we are, one man show is nothing but a rarity. We are bound to, as Bernard of Chartres put it, perched on the shoulders of giants. Modern superhero is an illusion, because in them, the shoulders are hidden.

Or perhaps, a house will make a better metaphor. You’ll never have that wonderfully decorated blue wall without a foundation to support it. I remember vividly, whenever I go with my father to oversee the building he build, the foundation will be one of the most discussed topic.

Have you dig deep enough? Is the strongest column prepared yet? Do you double-check the measurement?

These tell us something obvious. Whatever you’re looking—or maybe admiring-at, there is always something behind. Things that are more than what meets the eye. Things that sustain.

A supporters.  Continue reading “Supporters”

On Running

"at least he never walk"
“at least he never walk”

“Why do we keep on running?”

The question pops up in my mind as I jog around the dazzling route of Yangmingshan National Park—home for the tallest peak in Taipei City, Qixing Mountain.

I am in the middle of my evening jog, starting from Chinese Culture University, with the Yangmingshan Bus Station as the goal. It is the last stop for a bus from the city. From there, people should take a smaller minibus if they want to explore the mountain.

It is around 4.30 PM and Yangmingshan views are great as usual. The weather is perfect. As I run along the curvy road, I can see the greenery valley on my left and the sun setting down in far away sky. The road is calm. Only several cars and buses coming along in my hour or so of jogging. Along the road, there’s also a small river, flowing to somewhere only God know. Continue reading “On Running”

Robohnya Gereja Kami

Anggota jemaat gereja HKBP Setu mencegat alat berat yang akan dipakai merobohkan geraja mereka di Tamansari, Setu, Bekasi, Jawa Barat, Kamis (23/3). Sebanyak 270 personel kepolisian Bekasi disiagakan mengamankan eksekusi pembongkaran oleh pemda setempat terhadap Gereja Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (HKBP) Setu. Foto: Antara/Paramayuda

Haji Ali Akbar Navis tentu bukan seorang sinis, apalagi bodoh. 22 buku, 8 antologi luar negeri plus 106 makalah sastra untuk kegiatan akademis dalam maupun luar negeri tampaknya sulit dihasilkan tanpa kreativitas maupun intelektualitas. Tak mungkin juga orang semacam Syafii Maarif ataupun mantan Menteri Agama Tarmizi Taher datang melayat ketika AA Navis telah tiada, jika Ia bukan orang diperhitungkan di Indonesia.

AA Navis seorang sastrawan besar Indonesia. Sebagai penulis, namanya harum di dalam dan luar negeri. Tahun 1975, lewat kumpulan cerpen, Jodoh, Ia memenangi sayembara Kincir Emas Radio Nederland Wereldemproep. AA Navis juga dianugerahi hadiah Sastra Asean/SEA Write Award pada tahun 1994. “Soalnya, senjata saya cuma menulis,” kata AA Navis satu ketika. AA Navis memang perlu senjata. Ia butuh itu untuk melawan elite korup yang sangat Ia benci. Saking geramnya, konon ketika disuruh memilih antara kekuasaan atau menulis, yang AA Navis pilih: kekuasaan. “Untuk menyikat semua koruptor,” begitu alasan AA Navis. Namun toh AA Navis tetap menulis. Barangkali memang karena Ia tidak pernah punya kuasa macam itu. Paling banter, Ia jadi Pemimpin Redaksi di Harian Semangat, Padang.

Maka waktu Ia menulis cerpen masyurnya, Robohnya Surau Kami, tentu ada sesuatu. Ia asli Minang, juga seorang saleh. Ia pasti menyayangi ajaran agama, karena itu Ia menunaikan ibadah yang membuatnya menjadi seorang Haji. Saya tak ingat kapan pertama membaca Robohnya Surau Kami, nampaknya lebih dari 10 tahun lalu ketika masih sekolah dasar, entah kelas tiga atau empat. Saya ingat suka membaca cerita-cerita di buku pelajaran Bahasa Indonesia. Waktu itu biasa saja. Mungkin masih terlalu kecil untuk bisa menghargai karya sastra besar.

Tetapi waktu Tempo memilih judul Robohnya Gereja Kami untuk melaporkan penghancuran Gereja HKBP Setu di Bekasi, saya merasa mendengar elegi yang mengiringi kematian kebebasan beragama di Indonesia, negeri yang katanya tetap satu meski berbeda-beda. Continue reading “Robohnya Gereja Kami”