Uniting the Cultural Differences
Indonesia is one of the most ethnically diverse country, with over 500 ethnic groups with at least 95 percent are native Indonesia. Therefore, this fact encouraged the possibility of inter-ethnic tensions between cultural groups. A long time ago, Indonesian people are expected to get married to someone that belongs to the same ethnic groups as them. It used to create cultural tension amongst the family members, this may had happened because of the fear of losing their culture identity and shared solidarity amongst the member of the ethnic groups, or culture socialization that develops the sense of ethnocentrism, which means “seeing our own culture as the central and best one, and seeing other cultures as insignificant or even inferior” (Liu, Volc?ic?& Gallois, 2015). The pride of being a part of a culture and feeling that their ethnicity is the best one, making it seem dishonorable to be married to another ethnicity that they think is lower than theirs.
Seeing this very culturally diverse country, Indonesia proclaimed the national motto called “Unity in Diversity” or “Bhineka Tunggal Ika”, which is very significant to marked the important of seeing cultural pluralism as unthreatening with the reason that all Indonesian shared the same common history. This motto has guided Indonesian people to see all culture and ethnicity as equal and uniting the country through all the social differences. This attempt of starting to defuse the sense on ethnocentrism and developing the perspective of ethnic equality, it is a sign of multiculturalism, in which according to Liu, Volc?ic?& Gallois, is “a society’s tolerance towards diversity and acceptance of equal societal participation” (2015).
And as the globalization widens, couples that come from different ethnic groups are becoming normal, more than it did before. In this modern era, each individual Indonesian people are becoming more culturally diverse because of mixed ethnicity marriage. One person can identify themselves as a part of several ethnicity groups, because of the parents’ different ethnicity background. Therefore, Indonesian can interpret things based on several cultural lenses and guide their attitude based on a mixed of various ethnicity references.
For this essay, the conceptual model that I have chosen to discuss my culture is Dodd’s model. Dodd (1998) identify cultural components into three layers, the inner core, the intermediate layer and the outer layer. According to Dodd (1998), inner culture consists of cultural components that is passed down from generation to generation and present its members with a sense of identity (cited in Liu, Volc?ic?& Gallois, 2015). It includes cultural components such as history, identity, beliefs, values, and worldview. I identify myself as a part of two different ethnic groups, my mom is Javanese and my dad is Minangkabau. Therefore, my identity, values, beliefs and worldview are the result of combination between Javanese and Minangkabau, and I see both of my ethnic backgrounds as equal and respect each of it the same.
The values and beliefs that my parents passed down to me gradually shaped my own interpretation of values and beliefs. For example, the position of women in the society in my perspective are significantly affected by my culture. Minangkabau people are ethnic groups with matrilineal structure, in which properties are inherited through female lineage. Whereas for Javanese people, they have the noble conception called “Wani Ing Tata”, which means that women have always been perceived as strong, powerful and have greater stature than men in the society. Javanese people also belief to have respect towards women because they ascribed women as educator, nurse and balancer, in which they believe it’s important for the viability of society. Thus, I have always feel like women deserve higher position than men. I believe that women have greater position considering they are the birth giver of all individuals on earth.
The intermediate layer according to Dodd (1998), includes of activities as manifestations of culture that can be represent in several ways such as technology, material objects, roles, rules, rituals, customs, communication patterns, and artistic expressions. For me, the cultural ritual that both of my ethnic groups have similarity is the act of celebrating almost all occurrence such as marriage, birth, death, birthdays, moving to a new house, and the list goes on, and it is called “slametan” in Javanese. The celebration is always related to a huge feast that are provided for the family members.
The feast is common amongst Javanese, Sundanese, and Madurese people, and since my mother is half Javanese and half Madurese, thus it is important for my family to have prayers to hope for good tidings that is expressed through this cultural celebration. For Javanese “slametan” they usually served “Tumpeng” which is one of official national dish of Indonesia, whereas for Minangkabau celebration they served Padang cuisine. I do believe that any important occurrence that happens in our life needs to be celebrated as a symbol of gratefulness and prayer for good tidings for future events. Besides that, I believe that these cultural activities have an effect of significantly strengthen the relationship between the family members and bring families closer.
Lastly, the outer layer of culture according to Dodd’s model of culture, are referred to the systems that are products of culture, consists of religion, economy, politics, family, healthcare and education (1998). Both Javanese and Minangkabau people have a strong history of Islam. I believe in only one God and follow all the beliefs, ceremonies, worship, norms of respect, and spiritual issues that Islam has taught. Religion is a huge part of my life because both of my parents embraced the same religion, I went to Islamic school since pre-elementary school until I graduated high school. Everything that my school had taught me were based on the guide of Islam. Due to my religion, I have some restrictions that I have to follow. For example, I cannot drink alcohol or eat pork, in which may seem like a normal act for most people.
The strength of Dodd’s model of culture (1998)
And the weakness of Dodd’s model of culture (1998)
Being both Javanese and Minangkabau shapes my perspectives that all ethnicity are equal and there are no cultural groups that is more superior than another. Because of the cultural diversity I received from both of my parents, I learned that it is important to have a sense of tolerance in a very culturally diverse environment. Besides that, I also learned the similarity that these both ethnic groups have, even though they are different groups, but they have similar custom. Moreover, I see the differences that each ethnicity has is beautiful and unique, and I highly respect the differences of ethnicity in Indonesia.
I adapted all the good learnings from both Javanese and Minangkabau groups to guide myself how to act on daily basis. I am attached to my cultural identity therefore the cultural components they present are the basis of the way I act and the way I think unconsciously, because I was born into these ethnic groups.