I live in Jakarta. I live in South Jakarta. I live in the Kemang Area of South Jakarta. I live in an apartment in the Kemang area of South Jakarta. I live in a second-floor apartment in the Kemang area of South Jakarta.
Today’s lesson in specificity has been brought to you by…
…to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. ”
So said Mark Twain, and I agree. I think that there are other agents for the fatality of negative human attributes, like education and education. And I should be clear – some people can travel the world looking for McDonald’s restaurants and Macy’s stores and Holiday Inn hotels. They can avoid all the culture and ethnicity and find North America everywhere they go, complaining that no one speaks English. Sadly, I’ve been around some of those people as I’ve traveled around South Asia.
I’ve also had the pleasure of traveling with and around people who are looking for a better understanding of the world and its people. It may be, though, that it’s the attitude of the traveler that will determine whether prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness are fatally eradicated. Mark Twain, from what I’ve read, seemed to be the kind of man who was willing to challenge himself as well as others. Some people, sad people, do not have any desire to upend their tiny understanding of the world.
There is a myth here in South Asia, the myth of the Monkey King. He was incredibly fast, amazingly powerful, and willing to learn. One of my favorite versions of the Monkey King myth is in the graphic novel American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang. In his version, the Monkey King grows from an enlightened monkey into an arrogant and destructive practitioner of god-like powers to an eventually humble devotee of the Buddha. He learns from his time trapped under a mountain that he need only accept himself for who and what he is in order to free himself from his terrible burden. He realizes that in order to be free, he must freely give his allegiance and subject himself to someone else’s will. To be a free spirit, he must freely choose to help others.
The photo, above, is of the Monkey King, or one of his many incarnations. This is the Indonesian version, who appeared in the Ramayana. He is one of many wayang that I saw at the Wayang Museum in Old Jakarta.