TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Having more than 1,300 ethnic groups and 400 distinct languages and dialects, are certainly challenges for the 250-million population of Indonesia, the fourth most populated nation in the world, after China, India and the US.
Moreover, the country comprises some 17,000 islands and lies between the Ring of Fire and the Alpide Belt, resulting in the country being prone to volcano eruptions, earthquakes and subsequent tsunamis.
The Ring of Fire is a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur annually. With its 40,000 km horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and/or plate movements. It has 452 volcanoes, including more than 75 percent of the worlds active and dormant volcanoes.
Indonesia has experienced among the world's deadliest natural disasters, such as the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa Volcano, and a magnitude-9.3 earthquake off Aceh waters that triggered a massive tsunami on Dec 26, 2004.
The Indian Ocean earthquake and its resulting tsunami killed an estimated 225,000 to 230,210 people, mostly in Aceh Province and Nias Island (North Sumatra Province), as well as several other countries in Southeast and South Asian regions.
In the latest major earthquake measuring 6.5 on the Richter Scale that hit Aceh Province on December 7, 2016, 103 people were killed and some 8,000 injured.
Having to endure those ordeals, social solidarity shown by the entire nation is crucial to help natural disaster victims to survive and return to their normal lives.
Social solidarity is the power of the nation in addressing various problems arising in the country, either triggered by natural disasters, or conflicts involving different races or faiths.
Indonesia observed National Solidarity Day for the first time in Yogyakarta on December 20, 1948, when the people defended the countrys sovereignty. Since then, the nation commemorates Solidarity Day annually.
This years National Solidarity Day was observed at Sanaman Mentikei Stadium, Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, and was attended by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and First Lady Iriana, as well as Coordinating Minister for Human and Cultural Development Puan Maharani.
In his remarks, Jokowi recalled that solidarity is a noble value that the Indonesian nation has held since ancient times, therefore, its spirit must be maintained.
The history of the Indonesian nations struggle proves that solidarity is an asset in facing all challenges and ordeals confronting the nation, he noted.
This solidarity was shown when people from throughout the country worked hand in hand to help victims of natural disasters in the country, he stated.
"But I remind (the Indonesian nation) that they should not merely show social solidarity at the time of natural disasters. We should feel the social solidarity in our daily lives. We must help each other in our efforts to reduce social gaps, maintain unity and tolerance, and assure that nationhood and statehood remain tranquil," he added.
The commemoration of National Social Solidarity Day was, in fact, an observance of the original values of the Indonesian nation, which took root long before the countrys independence.
He explained that these values were later used by the founding fathers to form the concept of Pancasila, which has become the philosophical foundation of Indonesias statehood and nationhood until now.
"I should like to stress that we need to feel social solidarity in a concrete way, rather than just talk about it. Concrete means that we really act to help each other. Therefore, we can begin it with ourselves and our families. We must continue to instill and forge social solidarity, Pancasila (five tenets) values, and unity in diversity as values within ourselves," he said.
Also, Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa shared the view of President Jokowi that social solidarity is the power of the nation in addressing many problems arising in the country.
"Social solidarity is more powerful and even sharper than traditional bamboo spear guns, because the strength of social solidarity does not lie in great weapons used in warfare," Khofifah remarked, in a written statement read throughout the country during the celebration of Solidarity Day.
She noted that Indonesias intrinsic strength is a spirit inspired by a sense of kinship in arms, represented by the countrys moral resistance to invaders.
"Let us maintain the spirit of social solidarity in order to keep it embedded in our mind set, movements, and activities, and to use it in the political, economic, social, and cultural spheres," she added.
With increased social solidarity, Indonesia was, is and will be able to face various challenges confronting this large nation.
ANTARA | FARDAH