Peace, Security, and Identity: Coming from strength to strength
(Part 2/4 of the essay Peace, Security and Identity: A proposal for the youth of Southeast Asia)
(Read Part 1)
Diversity is the strength and banner of the ASEAN. It has in its own backyard different types of government, at least five major religions, a multiplicity of races and cultures and their even more numerous combinations. Indeed, aside from our common addiction to rice, there seems to be no single unifying element in all the ASEAN. However, barring Thailand, all of the nations of the ASEAN have come from a recent colonial past, and have built their current formal structures of government, economy, and education based on colonial institutions.
The colonial nature of our governments has given us Southeast Asians an inferiority complex. We have set our sights to the standard that our colonizers have created for themselves, painstakingly training ourselves to speak as they speak, value what they value, and practice as they do. This has put us at a distinct disadvantage. Not only have we turned our back on our own culture which encapsulates our strengths and ways of knowing and doing, we are setting ourselves to fail consistently, as we are acting still in behalf of our colonizers and not as stewards of our own future. Thus, the first challenge to the youth is to make use of the freedom and opportunity to find our strength and our place in the post-colonial world, by building our own perspectives and paradigms, so that we can move from strength to strength, taking our rightful place in the community of nations.
(on to Part 3)