America Needs To Learn From Indonesia

Bill Harbin JrStarred Page By Bill Harbin Jr, 16th Aug 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/tg1yvflo/
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Asia>Indonesia>Sumatra

Thoughts and lessons that can be learned from Indonesia to help America are discussed. Learn some insights into the cultures and attitudes from countries at opposite sides of the earth.

America Needs To Learn From Indonesia

Visiting Indonesia on the other side of the world makes you want to change some attitudes in the United States. Seeing all the poverty, not being able to drink the tap water, and feeling burning sensations in you lungs from the pollution makes you appreciate our way of life. America is a land of compassion, but perhaps we treat our citizens like a parent who will not let their children grow up and face reality.

A Place Where You Work Or You Die

A Child dresses up and dances and entertains to receive money in Indonesia. Instead of begging like in America, everybody works in their own special way to earn money.

Indonesians Create Their Jobs

Everybody in Indonesia does business or they die. When you stop at a red light a person with no legs may be hobbling to your car to sell you a trinket. A child will be selling snacks to provide for their family. You see a toy appear in your window for sale by someone doing business instead of begging. They actually sell you something instead of just asking for a handout. When you back up your car in the street, someone stops traffic for you and you hand them some money. They claimed their job on that street.

After living in America all my life this concept of what appears to be zero unemployment baffled me. In the U.S. government assistance is available in many forms. If you are disabled or poor there are programs to give you money. Many people brag about how much they earn by panhandling. There is no real incentive to work. However, in the developing country of Indonesia even the beggars must open a one person retail business on the street to survive.

A Fancy New Mall In Jakarta

This shiny new mall in Jakarta, Indonesia is more impressive than any place in America and shows the modern growth of Indonesia. In America regulations and red tape have hindered many businesses from thriving.

American Attitude And Regulations

A barbeque business owner in America recently told me they were barely surviving. They were selling sandwiches in the evenings and weekends from a stand in front of their home. The health department shut them down at home because of regulations and red tape. After moving to a cheap commercial location the rent and restrictions were too much and they said it might be easier to just live on welfare and food stamps.

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Smoking, No Problem!

In America signs can be seen in restaurants that might not allow smoking or service at a restaurant without shirt or shoes. Here are pictured a couple of patrons on the porch of a home that features a restaurant where they are enjoying themselves with no rules!

A motorcycle taxi is a business opportunity

A motorcycle has been converted to a taxi in Medan, Indonesia. Small business owners are everywhere creating their own jobs. Note the payphone next to the taxi out in the open that are almost extinct in America.

In Indonesia Everybody Does Business

In Indonesia almost every home is doing business. Bottles of water are for sale on the front porch. Fruit picked from the backyard trees are masterfully displayed in baskets. Picnic tables under trees or under makeshift roofs become restaurants. The sight of a young shirtless, barefoot guy smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer on one front porch restaurant sticks in my head. In America he would be arrested for blowing smoke on a sign saying no shirt, no shoes, no service.

A Video of Indonesia

To watch a short video about some of the culture and famous places in Indonesia click HERE.

America Should Observe Indonesian Culture

It is good that we have regulations in America. Being a compassionate nation has put us on a standard above much of the rest of the world. Our culture is the envy of many nations. Perhaps it is alright that we have made it possible for some citizens to mooch off of everyone else. Then again, maybe we should look at other cultures and learn from them. It may be time to reflect on former president Kennedy’s famous quote “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” You can see a video of his famous speech HERE.

The United States one of the greatest nations on earth. It is my home and I am proud to be an American. Yet, for this country to survive as a prosperous nation we must give all of our citizens incentive to make a positive contribution to society. When I saw the man in Indonesia without legs smile and sell me a trinket like a happy clerk at a fancy retail store it made an impact on me. Perhaps if we let our elected officials know there needs to be a change of attitude and accountability for our citizens it would make a difference. Also, we need to do that while we still have a great country and before it is too late.

All photos taken by Bill Harbin Jr.

Tags

America, American Dream, American Politics, American Values, Culture, Indonesia, Indonesia Culture

Meet the author

author avatar Bill Harbin Jr
Bill Harbin Jr is a freelance writer that had a book published in addition to hundreds of articles. His practical, down to earth advice can be used to find not only value, but perhaps a better life.

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Comments

author avatar Retired
16th Aug 2014 (#)

This is a great article with a wonderful perspective. How enlightening.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
17th Aug 2014 (#)

Thanks Bill - an inspiring post like President Kennedy's inauguration speech. His words - let us not negotiate out of fear but not fear to negotiate - is inspiring too and ever relevant.

I spent many years in the wonderful country that is Indonesia. People are easily satisfied and with a ready smile. They still imbibe their age-old culture like puppet shows depicting scenes from Indian epics. Despite being the country with the largest Muslim population they are not fanatical like many others. They are living proof that lack of material wealth is no hindrance to finding unity in diversity. But there are the few heartless rich who exploit he poor - sadly, they need a mention too. Yes, other countries, including America, can learn a lot from Indonesia - siva

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author avatar Bill Harbin Jr
17th Aug 2014 (#)

Thanks for the extra insight Siva. Every time I visit Indonesia I get inspiration about a different life and different ways of viewing things.

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author avatar Margaret Michel
17th Aug 2014 (#)

Interesting! Thanks for sharing!

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
17th Aug 2014 (#)

Bill, fantastic article. You brought up so many good points. All of which I know to be fact. I commend you sir on your enlightened thinking.

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author avatar Retired
20th Aug 2014 (#)

I wouldn't regard people being forced to do menial tasks to avoid starving as being a good thing. I much prefer the concept of the Welfare State, with adequate Social Security, such as we have in the United Kingdom. People deserve dignity, however poor they might be.

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author avatar Retired
27th Aug 2014 (#)

I have lived in Indonesia for almost 35 years. Although there is considerable poverty here, the people help each other and it is extremely rare to hear of anyone starving to death. One of the nicest things about Indonesians is their warm acceptance of foreigners. Although their are some charitable institutions, implementing a full welfare state would be impossible in the prevailing economic climate. Although the country has its share of crime, I consider Indonesia to be one of the world's safest countries.

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author avatar Retired
27th Aug 2014 (#)

Mike, Given your inside knowledge I will accept what you say. What I didn't like about this article was its apparent approval of children being forced to provide street entertainment - and that this was something that other countries should copy.

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author avatar Retired
27th Aug 2014 (#)

I don't like that either, John, as much as I don't like to see children sleeping in the streets at night. My wife, children and I give as much help as we can to people in need, especially children, but we are far from rich and can't do much to help. Indonesia is not the place for someone seeking their fortune, but there are many other compensations to living here.

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