Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about patriotism, nationalism, identity, ethnicity, and so forth. Today I came to a point where my sister asked me, “If Indonesia were involved in a war, would you fight for it?” and I didn’t really know what to reply. It made me really think. I love my country, but for some unknown reason I don’t feel like my identity is tied to Indonesia anymore. I feel like I’m a part of a flock of sheep that has no shepherd and everywhere I look there are other sheep that have strong identities because their shepherds have succeeded to make them belong in their flocks. So I’ve been trying to think what the function of a government is; which leads me to the question of the purpose of paying taxes to the government.
A long time ago when people lived in tribes, there was no need to pay taxes because everyone lived and worked for everyone else. Centralized government (monarchy and presidential) creates the need to pay taxes, so that the government can provide the people with protection, medical attention, standardized education, etc. I still see this being worked out in the US and Australia (albeit not perfectly), but I rarely see this happening in Indonesia.
For most Indonesians taxation has become a mandatory thing that they need to evade wherever possible. And this, perhaps, is because they never see how taxes benefit the society. When they can’t afford medication the government is silent, when they can’t afford education the government is silent, and yet they still need to pay taxes! Is this a form of government of the people, by the people, and for the people? Or is Indonesia still in some ways controlled and oppressed, not by other countries, but by their own representatives in the ruling seats?
I’m not here to say that it is right for the people to evade taxes. Taxes are obligatory for the sake of common good. A good citizen must do what they must do. I’m here to ask the Indonesian government to think more about the people. You are in many ways our shepherd. A good shepherd will give an ill sheep a good care. A good shepherd will give his sheep food, water and protection. Or are you just another wolf trying to pretend to be a shepherd who wears a luxurious coat made out of his own sheep’s wool?
When we are to say, “We are proud to be Indonesians!”, how do you expect us to feel, O great shepherd? Do you expect us to feel like we are proud because we have to be, regardless of the situation where nothing seems to make us proud? Will you blame us when we are to move to another flock because we cannot sense your presence among us? If so, why? Do you expect us to stay in your flock while you are busy harvesting our wool and sell it to satisfy your own ego? How are we to survive, then? Do you expect us to act exactly like you, seeking our own water and food for our own survival while not thinking of another sheep in our own flock, so that when you come to collect our wool we can be prepared regardless of whether or not the other sheep in the same flock are dying? Many of us have turned into this, because you have forced us to.
Some of us need medical attention and yet they cannot afford it. A lot of us need education and yet they cannot afford it. Please be a good shepherd, lest your sheep die.