Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Twentysomething Response 9 & 10 (Two-part): Emerging adults as social changers and fighters, the relationship between emerging adults and Soekarno-Hatta, Benigno Aquino, and Ferdinand Marcos as shown through Here Lies Love

A theatre buff at heart, throughout the years I have become a lukewarm audience member who rarely stands up at the end of the show or complain endlessly about the production. Instead, I sit and stare at the stage, struggling to validate the quality of the performance. No longer am I blown away by the actor's ability to memorize their lines or their ability to reach high notes in between the high kicks. Gone were the days when my heart sped through the opening number and my brain made notes to Google the cast or the inspiration behind the story. Fortunately, early in the month I found some consolation that my theatre brain and heart are not dead, instead they were waiting for the right production to wake them up from their dormant states. 

Conrad Ricamora as Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Here Lies Love

Naturally, I was completely caught off guard when the adrenaline rush pulsated through my entire body as I shuffled through the crowd to see Ruthie Ann Miles as the infamous first lady, Imelda Marcos, and Conrad Ricamora as Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino. Jose Llana as the late Ferdinand Marcos glowed through his solo number "A Perfect Hand", which played at The Public Theatre. A musical by David Byrne-Fatboy Slim, Here Lies Love awakened the dormant theatre fairy. As the platforms moved from the side to side, audience members finally were allowed to sit as an ensemble member, now I kick myself for not knowing her name, performs as Aurora Aquino, Ninoy's mother. The song, which has yet been published, tells the tale of Ninoy's inspiration to lead the Philippines and even die for his country and people. I was so moved by the-

Wait a second, how does this all relate to twentysomethings and emerging adults?

In 1928, a group of young men from various parts of Indonesia banded together to fight for the country's independence from the Dutch colony. They created Soempah Pemuda or Youth Pledge that would inspire Indonesia's independence. Seventeen years later Indonesia, which was represented by Soekarno and Mohammad Hatta, declared independence from the Dutch and Japanese colonies. These young men, along with Marcos and Aquino (who were in each other's opposition), fought for their own countries despite the possibility of death and imprisonment. The optimism that blazed through the first half of Here Lies Love resembled the emotions that must have driven various young adults to fight for their country, despite the risks. The tenacious spirit, though not necessarily regarded to civic duties, still resonate in today's emerging adults. 

Proklamasi Kemerdekaan Republik Indonesia
Republic Indonesia's Declaration of Independence Soekarno (forefront) and Hatta (right) on August 17, 1945
Kids These Days, an article published by T Magazine, delved into the phenomenon of young adult driven endeavors, such as Facebook and Google. "[Y]oung people bring fresh eyes and a new perspective to confronting problems and challenges that other have given up on" (T Magazine, 2) might have been the very reason behind the Indonesian young people's fight for success in gaining independence. These individuals saw no boundaries, limits, and obstacles that they can't overcome, creating an exciting and stimulating environment for social change. Young people have nothing to lose, as well as less commitment than their older counterparts, therefore they have the upper hand in creating change. In the past few years, young people have increasingly become much more involved in politics, as shown through the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Presidential elections (Settersten & Ray, 2010). 

I found a sense of familiarity as I watched Here Lies Love and read documents regarding Indonesia's independence, as it reminded me of friends who carry a blazing spirit within them to create, innovate, alter, and, perhaps, produce a new perspective or machine. But, why are emerging adults similar to past fighters? Is it evidence of a natural social wave? Instead, I would suggest that emerging adults were raised thinking that they were special and capable of contributing to society in a major way. 

Repeated reinforcement by parents and teachers have made us much more resilient to small road bumps, but may make us much more vulnerable to an avalanche. Parents instilled a sense of optimism as they planted seeds that would hopefully aid in the development of the future generation. More importantly, many emerging adults are convinced that change will come sooner and easier with the existence of technology. Nowadays, my friends spread word about the DREAM Act, a legislation prompted by a series of responses by emerging adults, through Facebook, Twitter, and the Internet. Technology lit a new layer of optimism as it appears to be an effective way of building coalition between individuals and groups across large parameters (Gladwell, 2010). 

Despite this surge of assurance, social media platforms are only effective in raising awareness through the creation of weak ties (Gladwell, 2010). It should be primarily used to spread news of endeavors that are attractive for the lack of commitment and struggle required. For instance, "Stop the Great HSBC Graduate Rip-Off!", a complain platform regarding a sudden change made by HSBC on Facebook created by Wes Streeting, a Cambridge University student and vice president of the student union. The key is to lower the obstacles in order to mobilize people cared less to "participate a little, while being effective in aggregate" (Shirky, 2008, 181). Social media platforms also allow easy organizing of action, such as flashmobs (Shirky, 2008). 

In a way, Soekarno and Hatta, in the case of the Indonesian independence, similarly reduced the obstacles for the people to participate, as they relied on massive support created by little participation. Members of a team of passionate individuals, instead of the entire nation, planned and organized the independence. Pushed by a kidnapping incident by a group of younger men, Soekarno and Hatta finalized their plans and proclaimed independence. 

Indonesian Independence Day 2010,
at Santa Laurensia Kindergarten by Tiffany Robyn Soetikno

With the addition of social media and a wave of different parenting style, as well as environmental changes, emerging adults have gradually become optimistic social changers, resembling a line of historical figures who have altered the reality of many people around the world. 

Gladwell, M. (2010, October 4).  Small change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted.  The New Yorker, 1-6.

Here Lies Love Poster at The Public Theatre
Settersten, R. & Ray, B. E. (2010). Not quite adults: Why 20-somethings are choosing a slower path to adulthood and why it’s good for everyone (pp. 144-171).  New York: Bantam Books. 
Shirky, C. (2008).  Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations (pp. 161-187).  New York: Penguin Books.

More information on Here Lies Love: 

Soempah Pemuda 
Kami poetera dan poeteri Indonesia, mengakoe bertoempah darah jang satoe, tanah air Indonesia.
Kami poetera dan poeteri Indonesia, mengakoe berbangsa jang satoe, bangsa Indonesia.
Kami poetera dan poeteri Indonesia, mendjoendjoeng bahasa persatoean, bahasa Indonesia.

Youth Pledge
We the sons and daughters of Indonesia, acknowledge one motherland, Indonesia.
We the sons and daughters of Indonesia, acknowledge one nation, the nation of Indonesia.
We the sons and daughters of Indonesia, uphold the language of unity, Indonesian. 

A Perfect Hand, by David Byrne, is one song from Here Lies Love that transcends generational differences. A song depicting the determination to take action and change society resonated as an anthem for many emerging adults, at this moment in time. Here are two verses that, in my opinion, signifies the boldness that many feel.

A Perfect Hand
Jose Llana as Ferdinand Marcos, Here Lies Love

They're occupyn' our country
We were almost over-run
I knew if I did not react
They'd kill us, everyone

I promised to my mother
She's meant so much to me
That's for every single tear she shed
There'd be a victory 
That's for every single tera she shed
There'd be a victory

1 comment:

  1. I wish more people can read this article. Try sending it to Jakarta Post and Jakarta Globe please