As a student in Malaysia, I was always struck by the apathy that seems to charactize so much of the people that I meet. Part of this, of course, is the pledge that University students are forced to sign, promising they will stay out of politics. This seems endemic of a broader cultural trend, however; it has been easy for me to get the impression that most are more worried about simply obtaining the basic necessities, or, on the other end of the spectrum, in self-gratification.
This observation seems even more important when I look at news headlines and see that in Indonesia, the country just to the South, with the same basic religion and ethnic makeup, thousands of people have taken to the streets in protest of Israeli action in the Middle East. This is a complicated web just begging to be examined an over-confident American exchange student sure of his ability to comprehend a complex world.
I’ve been on a mission here in Malaysia, trying to get a bit of a sampling of what my generational counterparts, be they Muslims, Christians, Buddhists or other, are thinking about what’s happening in other parts of the world. And I’m excited about getting to Indonesia, to discover if and how my peers there are different.