Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Strengthening My Self-Identity

I understand that IofC is more than an organization, but a community where people from across cultures, faiths and countries join together to make movements. One thing that attracts me as part of IofC is feeling like family.  There is a comfortable atmosphere, like one's own family, when meeting with IofC friends wherever they are, even though we have not met before. Being open, friendly, helpful, caring, and showing affection are characteristics of the people involved. It is true that there are those who say that people who come to IofC activities are hoping to find a new family, not like the services of a typical NGO organization that focuses on work programs.

There are also those who understand IofC as a spiritual movement, more than just a social movement, to encourage people to become better people. If the person is a Muslim or a Christian, he or she will become a Muslim or Christian person who is better not only for his community of believers but also with other communities by acting the same thing without exception. My participation in various IofC activities led me to a new spiritual experience of interfaith that I had never had before. I began to get to know the hospitality of my IofC friends.

I used to be doubtful of joining IofC activities. Now I feel there is no more worry and there is no loss of my identity as a Muslim when attending interfaith activities. I feel happy and excited to get to know more and be friendly with people from different backgrounds. I believe that those who are non-Muslims are part of my siblings who must be approached and embraced together to create a better world without questioning the differences of their choice.

In the context of the nation and state, specifically in Indonesia, I believe that our differences are a source of strength that makes a nation advance if each individual from a nation united in diversity, moves together to advance the country and to join hands with optimism without eliminating our diversity.

For me, IofC has a strategic role to facilitate all human beings from various backgrounds and to make a movement of people that starts from oneself. This is the importance of IofC being a pioneer for values of change, to create the world we live in together to become a better, comfortable, peaceful, tolerant and compassionate place between people.

In my own family environment, I still try to be a better person by holding the 4 moral values of purity, honesty, unselfishness, and love. I believe that being honest creates no distance from my wife and two sons in the home environment. For me family is the best place to practice positive values and character with love and responsibility. I feel I learned a lot from my child, Afkar Alkalifi Umam. The lives of children, who are honest, living freely and confidently, is a portrait of a good life. I have a time of reflection or quiet time to improve the quality of myself by referring to the 4 moral values. Being honest in a family environment is the key to fostering a good personal character.

The spirit to make changes to become a better person is not only transmitted by my family at home, but also with my students and the educational environment in which I work. I shared with my students that I felt ashamed of looking at my past such as being on a train and not buying a ticket, and borrowing library books that were not returned. I told this experience to inspire students to dare to admit mistakes, to apologize and to be moved to improve themselves by making changes in themselves.

I told my students how I regretted the wrongdoing I had done and that I had written a letter of regret to the train company and had returned the borrowed books to the library. The courage to admit mistakes and to apologise made my life feel free and free from the psychological burden of guilt.

I realize everyone has a variety of past stories and not all of their past is going well. Becoming a person with a good character starts with a strong desire to change and maintain his commitment. There are times when we do wrong things that are contrary to our conscience such as being in conflict with others, cheating when taking an exam, not being honest with a partner, and throwing trash all over the place. We can change so that we have less bad habits and a negative character in everyday life.

There’s a saying by Heraclitus of Ephesus: “Good character is not formed in a week or a month.  It is created little by little, day by day.  Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character.” Building character is both doing “the right thing,” and being true to your character, and being true to your character includes being true to others”.

A. Hairul Umam