Wisdom, Devotion and Modesty

One of my task currently is assisting BPPI in establishing the National Committee of Blue Shield Indonesia. The Blue Shield is a kind of red-cross initiative for culture when (natural or war)disaster happens. For this task I came across the presentation of Jan Pronk again which he presented during 'Cultural Emergency Response' Conference in the Hague, 25 September 2006. I was impressed by his thoughts and asked his permission to quote them here. He was very kind to let me to do it.

His speech titled 'Wisdom, Devotion and Modesty.' For the full text you can see through his website : www.janpronk.nl/index263.html but here are several points which caught my attentions.
  • The Taliban wanted to break more than stones of the Buddha statues. They wanted to break the spirit of another religion. They were after the soul of another culture, the mind of people worshipping other gods.

  • The Serbs bombed a national library in Sarajevo because they wanted to destroy the heart of multicultural society.

  • Spaniards, Britons and Dutch plundered their colonies in Africa, Asia and South America by killing indigenous people and shipped others to slave markets. They robbed these societies, bringing indigenous raw materials to Europe and cultural artifacts back home.

  • The destruction of each other's holy buildings (in Jerusalem, Iraq, India and Indonesia) were done in order to break spirits.

  • The hesitation of Western countries to sign and implement international conventions to return stolen cultural property, arguing that the countries of origin can not be trusted to protect their cultural heritage, discloses arrogance, hypocrisy and greed.

  • Culture is an essential element of humanitarian assistance.

  • Other kind of disasters that lead to destruction of cultural objects are economic growth, modernization and globalization. They lead to ruined landscape, a knock-down of age-old city centers and the sacrificing of historical buildings.

  • The looting of the museum in Iraq was a cultural emergency; the destruction of norms and values accompanying the intervention in Iraq was a cultural catastrophe.

  • People hurt each other that much for reason of cultural identity.

  • The reconstruction of this heritage (in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan) is a symbol that life returns, that the society is no longer paralyzed, that the culture is vibrant and that there is no parting between its past and its future.

  • To save some people you have to sacrifice other reflects an erosion of norms and values, a wrecking of cultural beliefs.#


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