Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Stopping Point

One of the basic and yet inspiring lessons I got from physics is Newton's first law of motion, or sometimes referred to as the law of inertia. It says that an object will remain at rest, or continue in motion at a constant velocity and in the same direction, unless an outside force acts upon it.

In High School, I was only good in Javanese, Indonesian, English and German languages, and history, but not physics. It was when I studied hard to get into ITB that I fell in love with physics, but life brought me to study in pharmacy instead. Still, the law of inertia remains fresh. In life, the law helps me to understand movements of people in their careers, businesses, and also development of a nation.

Consider China. For a couple of decades China was like a sleeping gigantic dragon or panda, whichever animal you like. The world largest population, cheap labor, hard worker people, centralized and powerful government, didn't really help a lot in improving the economy and people's prosperity, until at the end of 1978 when China embarked the economic reforms triggered by the open-door policy initiated by the late Deng Xiao Ping.

The result was quite impressive. In the last two decades, China has been the fastest growing economy in Asia, lifting more than 400 million people out from poverty, a lot more than the total population of Indonesia. It's the biggest poverty alleviation drive ever in the history of mankind.

Apparently China stopped sleeping ugly when the forces of Deng and his supporters acted on it, and since then the ball kept on rolling. But no big things in life happened without heavy challenges and heartbreaking sacrifices. Rampant corruptions and abuse of powers that triggered students demonstration which led to Tiananmen Square tragedy in 1989 were among of them.

When Deng visited Singapore and meet Lee Kuan Yew in November 1978, there's an interesting conversation between the two leaders during a dinner reception. Deng said, "I must congratulate you, you've done a good job in Singapore. I came to Singapore on my way to Marseilles in 1920. It was a lousy place. You made it a different place." Lee replied, "Thank you. Whatever we can do, you can do better. We are the descendents of the landless peasants of south China. You have the mandarins, the writers, the thinkers and all the bright people. You can do better." During his tour to the southern provinces in November 1992, Deng said to his people, "Learn from Singapore, do better than them."

Inspiration may come from different places and from different kind of people. Great people always have sensitive ears to listen to the wisdom and keep open minds and hearts to digest, absorb and utilize it for the benefit of the people.

What and whose forces to be acted to the sleeping apathy Indonesian people, stopping them from doing little to nothing, and yet complaining, bitching, corrupting state coffers, looting natural resources, political bickering, red-taping business activities, neglecting education and research drives, and all other inefficiencies and ineffectiveness that have made this beautiful rich country remains poor.

We are commemorating the 100 years of the National Awakening Day that falls on May 20. I'm wondering whether the commemoration still means something for the people. I hope it does, even though realities of life speak differently. We shall not wait for another 100 years to awaken the mind, heart and soul of the Indonesian people. We need it today.

If China needs 20 years for lifting 400 million of people from poverty, it is possible for Indonesia to work on the 40 million of poor Indonesians within a period of ten years. In order to achieve the goal, remember Newton's first law of motion, the law on inertia, that things will stop or start moving when external forces act on it.

Readings: NewsFinder, Time, International Socialist Review.


  1. good idea and motivation... bhs inggris saya agak blepotan... dimana belajar yang gratis dan cepet bisa ya pak

  2. Dimana pun blajarnya gak begitu banyak beda, yang penting adalah dipakai setiap hari. Jadi temukan satu orang yang ketemu atau telponan tiap hari dan ngobrol pakai inggris, biar belepotan gpp.

    Baca koran inggris tiap hari, majalah inggris seminggu sekali, novel inggris sebulan sekali, nonton tv inggris tiap hari. Rajin buka kamusnya...

  3. Nah itu masalahnya saya Mas, saya itu males bangettttt ^o^

  4. @lisan: males itu bagus lho, asal jangan bangettttt bangetttttt :D. Males itu pangkal kaya lho, karena orang males biasanya tukang ngimpi... Imajinasinya kuat. Keinginannya banyak, dan itu bagus.
    Tinggal cari teman dan lingkungan yang mendukung, dan sedikit rasa bosan dengan kemalesan itu, untuk mulai kerja agar mimpi2 itu bisa menjadi kenyataan...

  5. I found this to be a very informative and inspiring article - Great work.

  6. Dear Sir,

    Great posting: inspiring!

    I think I'm, now, forcing myself to move and hoping that will lead to 'rolling my ball' further.

    You and I can set example for the people closed to us. By doing so, I guess, we'll force some 'balls' rolling. Who knows where they will lead to . . . .

  7. Wow.. thanks for reminding me about law of inertia... great thoughts and I learned something new from you.

  8. @Greame Buch: thanks, appreciate it :)

    @Ming: Agree, no matter how small the contribution is, it may make a big difference in the long run.

    @Chiz: there are in fact plenty of lessons we can get from the law :D.

  9. If China needed 20 years, Indonesia should be able to do so in 2 years :)

    On inertia, as in "the force" vs. the dark force, what is the possibility that it is, at the moment, the dark force that keeps rolling (and has been for years)?

    Bringing physics into this, it would require some momentum, perhaps a big one, of the external force. The one we had in 1998 might be the one, but apparently the coefficient of friction is great enough to stop it...

    I love(d) physics too :)

  10. This is truly an inspiring writing sir. I have also written an article for commemorating our 100th years of national awakening but compare to this your has more in depth coverage. I think I have to learn more from your writing skills. Truly I am very happy to have a friend like you at least we can meet through our blogs. Who knows sometime we can actually meet face to face. Cheers!

  11. @bleu: or we may need 200 years to make it happen :)

    In my opinion "the force" and the dark force are both in existence at any given time, as there are many facets of life. It's true there are corruptions and all those bad things happening everyday, but there were and are good things as well, even under new order regime

    Hardship can probably trigger the momentum...

    @ghozan: the least is that we can share thoughts, no matter how stupid they are :D. I should contact you the last time I was in Bali early May :). Maybe next time.

  12. Anonymous7:50 PM

    Great article!

    I was at a National Park in Polenezkoy yesterday. When I searching something about stopping point from my blackberry, I saw your article.

    Keep writing ! I will read you

  13. I also like physics a lot too.
    That's why planets orbit the sun, since inertia was there to begin with.

  14. Many developing nations have really sprouted recently.
    China will be hosting the olympics soon and that will be amazing to watch!

  15. For me, this can be achieved not only with the help of a good leader but also with the cooperation of its people...we have to join hands and work on a common goal..having a positive attitude towards things also works wonder especially if it is coupled with hard work.