Jawanese was once the language of this land. Little by little Jawanese is being supplanted by the use of Indonesian. Our educational system is now focusing on Indonesian as well as English. These two languages are seen as the tools that will secure our success, both in terms of national unity and in terms of our place in the global economy. But Jawanese is the language of our people. Jawanese is the language that has expressed the thoughts and hopes and history of this storied land for hundreds of years. Jawanese is the language of Ranggawarsita. When spoken well, Jawanese is a language of ineffable beauty. It is rich in vocabulary. Its extraordinarily subtle grammar can convey the most nuanced of meanings. It is the equal of the greatest languages on earth throughout all of history. Arguably, it is far superior to the clumsiness and banality of Indonesian. So, how is it that Jawanese could become a dead language within this century? What has brought us to this point of cultural decay? And, most importantly, what can be done to reinvigorate the use and study of Jawanese?
As I stand before you today, it is important to remind ourselves that we are here to consider a still-living thing. The Jawanese language still survives. It is a contemporary organism, not a fossil in a museum. But for Jawanese to flourish and survive into the next century, it will need to prove itself as relevant to contemporary people. It will not survive because we love it. It will not service because many have written exquisitely for it. No. If Jawanese is to survive, it will do so because the shopkeeper and the architect, the becak driver and the software developer find that they need it. And I believe that we do need it, more than we currently realize. I will admit to you that it has taken me years to see clearly the need to defend something that seemed so self-evidently meaningful to me. I have often thought to myself, of course we need the language of Ranggawarsita, as surely as English speakers need Shakespeare and Germans need Schiller. Defending the language I grew up speaking seemed as unnecessary to me as defending the drinking cup with which we take our water. But in our lifetime we have seen great changes. We now live in a world of practical pressures. For Jawanese to survive, our need for it is going to have to be seen as something far more practical than aesthetic poetry.
LANGUAGE AND THE NEW COLONIAL CONQUEST
I believe that the word ‘survive’ is the key to understanding our need for Jawanese. The question before us today is not simply: Will the language of Jawanese survive? The larger question within that question is: Will the Jawanese people survive as a singular people with a culture and a sense of identity? The current homogenization of Indonesia that threatens the Jawanese language and culture is seen as a tool of national unity. This is a foolish mistake on the part of our government in Jakarta. The unspoken theory is that we will be stronger once diversity has been properly eliminated. Three decades of Suharto have molded this policy. And this strategy for national unity is a recipe for the destruction of indigenous culture and language on a massive scale. Madurese, Balinese, Sundanese, and Jawanese are sliding into obscurity as our government and style-conscious urbanites sell Indonesian and English as the engine of progress and sophistication.
In the last 400 years, the oppression of European colonialism sought to turn Java into a satellite of the Dutch government. Our culture, government, our language and identity were subordinated to the greed of Europe. This once proud hub of the Majapahit Kingdom, this glittering jewel of culture and civilization has been tragically stunted by the desires of Europeans for spice, rubber, oil, and power. It is a testimony to the resilience of the Jawanese people that we have survived with so much of ourselves in tact.
Since our independence from the Dutch 63 years ago, new colonial oppressors have taken the place of Europe. It is possible that this new colonialism will finish the job started by the Dutch 400 years ago. These new colonial powers hide behind benign sounding words such as “Nationalism” and “Globalization”. I believe that the term “Globalization”, as most Westerners use it, is a misnomer. Its contemporary Western meaning is closer to “Economic Colonialism”. “Nationalism”, as it is applied by the rich and powerful of Jakarta, is often an attempt to make ourselves more attractive to Western business interests. In this regard, nationalism and globalization can be used as two sides of the same colonial agenda. For example, by homogenizing Indonesia under one language, the theory is that we are better prepared to work together.
The argument continues, this nationalism will prepare us to participate in the global economy and, eventually become a superpower. Therefore, one language means better business. And I don’t disagree with that principal. Those who hold the best of intentions have a genuine desire to see Indonesians rise and prosper. This is all to the good. However, there is a darker agenda at work here. We must be careful not to confuse the national and international interests of Indonesia with the colonialist agendas of Bill Gates and McDonald’s hamburgers. Yes, we need to strengthen our national power so that we might best participate in the global economy for the betterment of Indonesia and the people of Jawa.
But the agenda of many U.S. manufacturers is arguably incompatible with the strengthening of Indonesia and Jawa. We are currently a manufacturing satellite of the rich nations of the earth. They come to Indonesia, not to make us strong. No. It is in their best interest to keep us as a cheap pool of labor and a source of raw materials. In other words, it is in their best interest to keep us weak. Let me be clear. I am not here today to speak against nationalism or our participation in the global economy. I very much believe in the viability of Indonesia as a nation and I support that. And our participation in the global economy is also essential to our survival as a people. My purpose today is to shout to anyone who will listen that our distinctiveness as a Jawanese people, with a language and culture, is an asset both to the nation and to our place in the world economy. The best face of nationalism and globalization is the face that celebrates our diversity and distinctiveness, as well as commonality and cooperation.
CULTURE AS FASHION AND ITS IMPACT ON OUR SURVIVAL
Of course, you have not come here today to hear about nationalism or globalization. But these subjects cannot be ignored. The interests of the world, or should I say, the designs of the world on Indonesian resources and cheap labor directly affect the decisions which are being made in our homeland. And these decisions have profound implications on the education of young Jawanese children. These decisions are directly affecting the language studies offered in Indonesian schools. I think it is time to remind ourselves of the central question: survival. As it relates to the global economy, will Jawa survive to serve the West? Will we be a satellite of the West as we were in the days of Dutch colonialism? Or will we survive to further our own interests? In other words, if we try to survive economically by making ourselves more like America, will we survive culturally as a Jawanese people? To put bluntly, will our economic survival make us more Jawanese, or more American? And if it makes us more American, have we survived at all? This is, of course, both a practical and a philosophical question. Simply put, what is survival?
Let us set aside the colonial agenda of the West for a moment and look at the desires of Indonesians. To many Indonesians, the reason English and Indonesian have prestige is that they are connected to the dominant cultures. English is the language of blue jeans and Coca Cola. We connect it to a life-style of luxury that we perceive to be embodied in Western culture. English is fashionable. Indonesian, as an element of national unity, is a symbol of our desire to become a strong nation that will eventually be able to afford all of the good things enjoyed by other strong nations such as America and Japan.
Certainly, Indonesian and English are important tools for us, and I am blessed to count both of them among the languages I speak. I do support their study. This is well and good. The mistake that is being made is that we are ignoring our own identity in the belief that, once again, if we submerge ourselves to the larger interests of others, we will improve our position in the world. This is exactly what we have been doing for the last four centuries, and it’s time we stop and ask ourselves a simple question: Is this strategy working? While under the Dutch, we submerged our identity to the needs of the Dutch, and we continue down this tragic path of self-deception.
Those Indonesians who would murder the Jawanese language on the sacrificial alter of survival are guilty of conspiracy with this new brand of colonialism. They are as guilty as Microsoft of fostering the new economic colonialism. If they succeed, they will erode our identity to such an extent that we will fail to stand as a unique people. I believe the misguided theory behind this is that if each of the 17,000 islands of Indonesia abandons its singular identity, then the strength of the nation as a whole will be increased. But a dish with 52 bland ingredients offers nothing to the feast. Similarly, Jawa only contributes to the nation of Indonesia to the extent that we stand strong in our cultural identity. I am a better Indonesian as a strong Javanese connected to my culture, language, and history. Survival demands that we be centered in our culture, as opposed to the culture of America, or the myth of national homogeneity.
What has made America strong and independent? For better or for worse, Americans are a confident people, and they do not subordinate themselves to the interests of others. This is at once a strength and a weakness of the American mindset. Certainly, their political unilateralism and insensitivity to the needs of the world have caused great problems for the rest of us. Clear examples can be found in America’s failure to ratify the Kyoto Accord and, in general, America’s singular lack of interest in living as good global citizens. These are not examples we should emulate. At their worst, they can be supremely arrogant. But at their best, Americans project a remarkable sense of self confidence that is most compelling. Like it or not, we are learning many lessons from America.
But I am not convinced that we are learning the proper lessons, the beneficial lessons from America. Are Indonesians learning about American self-confidence, or American arrogance? Are Indonesians learning about American productivity or the American obsession with consumerism? These are distinctions we are failing to grasp. There are ways in which Jawa must subordinate itself to larger interests. The communal side of Jawanese culture is one of our great strengths and we must never allow arrogance to suck us into the political mode America exemplifies. Rather, the lesson we should take from America is its steadfast refusal to devalue itself. Jazz, American modern dance, Hemmingway and even the lowly hamburger continue to influence the world because America not only has the power and money, but it has the self-confidence to see its own culture and values as worthy of export. And so should we. You may or may not like American culture. After having lived there for many years, I have developed both a profound love of America, and a deep mistrust of it. Regardless of your opinion of America, it has lessons to teach us. America has not become strong by subordinating itself to the needs of Europe. Nor will the Jawanese rise in strength by blindly subordinating ourselves to the needs of Indonesia or the West? Indonesia, and all of the cultures that make up these 17,000 islands, will only rise in strength in the firm foundation of our personal identities.
SCHOLARSHIP AND THE REVISION OF JAVANESE CULTURE
Scholarship is a two edged sword. At its best, it can illuminate and help us rediscover our neglected culture. The best of scholars, Jawanese and foreign, have shown us a new appreciation of what it means to be Jawanese. Many Jawanese people turn to the work of foreign scholars in an attempt to learn about themselves. And this can be quite dangerous to our survival. Westerners have taken it upon themselves to interpret our culture for us. I was at first concerned, then upset, then finally quite angry because I have seen the priceless traditions, inheritance and knowledge of my culture and language perverted by some Western scholars.
The bulk of Western attempts to write meaningfully on the Jawanese language and culture have yielded disappointing and often misleading results. The tendency is to see Jawanese culture through the lens of Western experience. The resulting perversion is something of a sacrilege to my sensibilities. It is essential that Western scholars listen more than they speak. It is essential that Western scholars take extra care to understand the context and nuance of our culture and language. And it is most essential that they do not allow Euro-centrism to influence their work. Westerners will never learn from Jawanese culture until they make a space for the new and set aside their biased Western points of view.
There is a tendency in the West to remake everything so as to render it most digestible for Western consumption. This tendency is resulting in the subtle destruction of Jawanese culture. To be fair, I doubt that my writings on Roman Catholic Theology would meet with the approval of the Vatican. But then, I have the good sense not to set myself up as an authority on such matters. Would that that were true of many Westerners I have encountered? I have heard the cries of many Westerners that the reason they had to step in was that Indonesians were not preserving their own culture. The argument is that, if Westerners didn’t save Jawanese culture from the neglect of the Jawanese, it would be lost to the world. The decay of Borobudur is often sighted as an example of timely Western intervention. I greet the intervention of Westerners with mitigated enthusiasm. I admire those who have done it well, and I view with great disdain those who have done it poorly. I would like you to consider something that I believe to be vitally important for all scholars. It is a paradox that is central to the work of each one of us. Sometimes “preservation” can be destruction.
For an example, I turn to an experience I had while living in America. On a hot day, in the Midwest town of St. Louis, an artist friend of mine and I stepped into lovely 19th century church to get out of the heat. The church was in a poor neighborhood. It was falling down from neglect, and I commented on its poor repair. My friend said that she felt it was very lucky that this little church was in a poor neighborhood. She went on to say, “If this church had been in a wealthier neighborhood, the fashions of renovation in the 1950’s or 60’s would have forever been stamped on it”. Later she showed me some mid-twentieth century renovations that she considered to be unfortunate and destructive. I must admit to you that when it comes to Victorian American architecture, I could not tell a good renovation from a bad one, except in the most extreme cases. I had not grown up with this style of architecture, and its subtlety eluded me. Furthermore, the preservationists of the mid-twentieth century certainly believed that they were doing a good job. Time proved them wrong.
Obviously, I am not suggesting a halt to all scholarship and renovation. I believe there is a middle path. Sensitive scholarship can preserve and enlighten Jawanese language and culture. But the insensitive scholar can just as easily destroy it. This is in part because many Jawanese, imprisoned by their insecurity and subservience to the West, have accepted the inferior works of many Western scholars. The result is disastrous to our understanding of ourselves. Indonesians have a saying, “Don’t swallow without tasting”. When it comes to our culture and language, we must not accept uncritically the teachings of others. Everything must be carefully weighed, examined and re-examined. We must never assume that the West knows more about us than we know about ourselves. This sense of inferiority is a part of the colonial legacy, and it must be abandoned if we are to move forward.
I have heard the argument that at least a poor interpretation or renovation might preserve it for future generations. I could not disagree more strenuously. Better Jawa should fall into dust, then that it becomes what it was never intended to be. We cannot allow careless or Euro-centric scholarship to subvert the true meaning of what it means to be Jawanese. Having said that, we need support and careful scholarship from across the world. Those of you who are on a quest for genuine understanding are our partners and our friends. Your help, your care and support, and your humble desire to learn are among our greatest assets.
THE ROAD BACK TO OURSELVES
I often reflect on the road back for us. After 400 years of submission to the needs of others, how do we find our way back to ourselves? How do we find our true selves once again? What is the path? Language has been a constant fascination of mine. In my studies of various foreign languages, I am constantly impressed by the way each language reflects its people. The Inuit peoples of Alaska and Northern Canada have many words for snow, each describing some unique property or quality of texture and appearance. The Jawanese have twelve words for rice. And these are only simple examples of the way vocabulary develops to fit the conditions of the people who use each language. More subtle, more mysterious and profound are the ways in which each language develops to express the inner life of each people. This proud identity that was once ours, before the first Dutch ship landed on our shores, this ‘sense of self’ still lives in the language of the Jawanese. This is the language of Sultans, sages and master poets. Just to speak it is liberation from centuries of abuse and submission. Listen to it. Hear its beauty and its grace. Hear its dignity. Even the words I speak before you today are freedom. These words are a road map back to our true selves. There is nothing remarkable in my choice of words. I bring you nothing today … nothing that can compare with the glory of the language I use for my message. These words are a repository of thousands of years of the history, the very essence of the people of this land. This noble language speaks of what it means to be Jawanese. So then, why are we not fighting to preserve this language? Is it because we are being distracted by what we believe to be our greater needs? The question on the minds of most Jawanese is: How can I put a bowl of rice in front of my children? And this is the question of most of humanity today and throughout history. You and I know that Ranggawarsita is a bowl of rice that can nourish us. And our desire to bring Ranggawarsita to the tables of more than 100 million Jawanese is a worthwhile goal. But in order to do that we must demonstrate a basic need for Ranggawarsita.
I was sitting in my garden last August. It was a hot, dry afternoon. The air was motionless, indeed nothing moved of its own initiative without the primal purpose of survival to motivate it. During these hours of lethargy and resignation I sat in the shade of the palm tree that spreads itself generously across the center of my garden. I noticed that between the trunk of the tree and the outside wall of my house, a spider was hard at work in the sun. The spider was adding to an extravagant web she had spun. No rain or wind had disturbed this masterpiece, and the effort spent had produced a work of such remarkable beauty that I found it sufficiently enthralling just to sit and watch the spider at work. What could prompt such effort in the heat of the afternoon sun? Was the spider setting out to make a work of art for the decoration of my garden? No. The objective was the most basic of all needs. The spider wanted to catch a meal. All of the beauty, all of the poetry that existed in that web, indeed all of the beauty and poetry that exists in the world is, in effect, a simple search for a bowl of rice.
Like the spider, we make art to feed ourselves. Mangkunegara IV is food for the hungry Jawanese. Forgive me if this sounds bourgeois. I do not mean to diminish the seriousness of physical hunger. But there is a very real hunger of the soul to know itself. We hunger to know our authentic identities as separate from those who would like to control us. There is an authentic need to nourish ourselves on the culture, wisdom and poetry of our ancestors … and to add our own layer of meaning to that culture. And Jawanese is the repository of that ancestral food. Jawanese is our road map back to ourselves. Jawanese is our cultural bowl of rice. Currently, we Jawanese are starving to death on this island of plenty. We live on the pabulum of Westernized TV and popular culture. If we continue to see ourselves in the mirror of Western culture, we will starve to death as a people. And because of this famine of the spirit, the world will also suffer the loss of our culture, as it has suffered the loss of so many languages and cultures.
All art, all poetry is functional. It feeds our mind and spirit. My meaning is at once more subtle and more practical than it might at first appear. I am not merely saying that Jawanese is the key to a wealth of neglected cultural food. This is certainly true and obvious enough. I’m saying that the key to bringing Jawanese literature back to the forefront of Jawanese life lies in its usefulness. Yes, its usefulness. To date, the Western media and our national government in Jakarta have done an extraordinary job of convincing us that we don’t need to know about ourselves. And they are quite wrong! We must know about ourselves and our history and the inner workings of our Jawanese identity.
We do not simply need to know this so that we can read the poems of Ranggawarsita. We need to know who we are so that we can stand on our own feet again, and see ourselves as whole! We must see ourselves as a people of singular beauty … rather than as a satellite of the West. In this self-knowledge is our strength. There is a paradox that hinges on the word ‘need’. It is often said that the very reason local languages are disappearing is that there is no need for them. It is commonly believed that Indonesian and English can fulfil all of our needs more efficiently. But the word ‘need’ is an illusive one. The one-thing politicians and business leaders have not considered is our need for the staggering power of self-knowledge.
The truth that is deemed irrelevant and dispensable is in fact the redemptive truth. The Bible tells us that, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” This is the poetry and paradox of need. Our essential truth is the truth we have dubbed irrelevant. Knowing English will help us in the global world of business. Knowing Indonesian supports our national unity. Knowing Arabic deepens our knowledge of how to be servants of Hyang Widhi. But, knowing Jawanese is a tool that will help us regain our strength and cast off the oppression of our colonial masters. Knowing Jawanese is not simply a matter for pretty poetry and nostalgia. It is a way forward for us … a way to take our own destinies in hand. The question is not: Will Jawanese survive without our attention to it? Rather, the question is: Will we survive as a people without the language of Jawanese?
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
The Xinjiang peoples of Western China are currently engaged in a similar struggle with the Chinese government. They are a Muslim, Turkish people and they speak Weega rather than Mandarin Chinese. The Chinese government, in an attempt to foster the illusion of national unity has mandated that all college classes and all textbooks now be exclusively in Chinese. This is a kind of cultural war which many indigenous peoples fight with large national governments. Of all of the endangered species of the world, “Cultural-man” is among the most neglected. What are we going to do to save culture-man on this island of Jawa? What are the practical steps we can take. Let us start by getting organized. This is a project, not just a dream. This is not just a speech, it is an agenda that must concern us all, Jawanese as well as our distinguished guests from other lands. We must organize if we are to save the Jawanese language.
I am currently preparing the groundwork for the creation of the Yayasan Pawartos Jawi. The mission of the Yayasan Pawartos Jawi is to strengthen Jawanese literacy and an understanding of Jawanese culture. I began this project by creating the website Pawartos Jawi. Let us now turn our attention to the creation of the institutions and resourses necessary to bring the Jawanese language back into the forefront of Jawanese life. In a small irony, the very media that is currently selling Western culture is likely to be our greatest tool. We must sell Jawanese to the Jawanese people. I propose that our next step be the creation of a monthly magazine, followed by a radio station of the Jawanese language. These two newly created outlets will deal both with high culture and with contemporary issue that are relevant to Jawanese people.
The poems of Ranggawarsita, the Ramayana and the Wayang Kulit can stand side by side with stories about contemporary politics, art, fashion, pop music, and current events. If the subjects and our treatment of them are compelling enough, we will create a need to read and understand Jawanese. Let us work with contemporary Jawanese TV and musical stars. If Dian Sastrowardoyo and Guruh Soekarno Putra were to grant a Jawanese interview with our Pawartos Jawi monthly newsletter, every young fan would struggle to understand what they were saying in the interview. These ideas have been shown to work in other parts of the world. African pop stars have done this in their native languages. Also Irish singers have sung in Gaelic and its contemporary form known as Irish. Pop songs in Jawanese would create new interest from young people. This can work if the Yayasan Pawartos Jawi can convince celebrities of the importance of contributing to an effort to save the Jawanese language and culture. Eventually, I envision a television production company as well as feature films in the Jawanese language.
If we can make each production compelling enough, it will find an audience, and in the process, it will build Jawanese literacy and interest. The same old stuffy articles will not inspire a new generation. We must find a way to be the freshest, the most fascinating and contemporary voice of Jawa. One way we can become essential reading and listening for all Jawanese people is by speaking the truth. Truth has a way of inspiring loyalty. If we speak the truth, we will find an audience. It is unlikely that we will be able to convince Jawanese people of the philosophical need to explore their cultural identity.
My hope is that, by leading them to the language of Jawanese, their culture will eventually unfold before them. No English elementary school child begins by reading the plays of Christopher Marlowe. No German child fell out of the womb reciting the poems of Heinrich Heine. The way to begin is by making the Jawanese language important to Jawanese people. The deeper cultural understanding will follow, as flowers follow the rain. Advertising has shown us that needs can be created. The Japanese company Sony determined through market research that there was little or no interest in wearing a stereo on top of one’s head. Their research concluded that most people found the idea unappealing if not silly. So the company set out to create an interest through advertising. Today, the Sony Walkman has become ubiquitous around the world. No stylish young person would consider his outfit complete without a stereo perched on the top of his head. We can sell cultural pride. If we are as clever as Sony, knowing Jawanese will be essential to contemporary life. The advantage is on our side, because knowing ourselves truly is essential to contemporary life. Our only job is to make that truth known to a wider audience.
One aspect of the Yayasan Pawartos Jawi must be the publication of Jawanese books. As you know, books written in Jawanese are increasingly hard to find in bookstores and libraries. To find them, I often have to ask people if they or their grandma have any books written in Jawanese on any subject. If I am lucky, sometimes I will find them at a traditional market that sells used books and magazines. This problem must be addressed with the greatest of urgency. We must publish contemporary novels, essays and poems by Jawanese authors, especially young Jawanese authors. For Jawanese to find a younger audience, it must say something to young people. We must also publish readable, contemporary editions, as well as translations of ancient Jawanese texts.
An American poet friend of mine recently emailed to me the most astounding fact. The most widely read poet in America today is Rumi. It is through contemporary translations of Rumi that the wisdom of this ancient Persian Sufi Master has found its way into the cultural life of America. Translations are an important step in the spreading of Jawanese culture to a wider audience. Equally important is the strengthening of the current system of education. Today, even the Padepokans are beginning to argue that they find it ‘easier’ to use Indonesian instead of Jawanese. If this continues, I am concerned that someday people will no longer have a place to go to study and practice their Jawanese.
Our public education system, at the direction of the Indonesian government, has allowed Jawanese literacy to decay to such an extent that it has becoming difficult to find teachers of Jawanese. What many schools have done is to employ any person who seems to have a basic command of Jawanese, even if that person has no education or background in teaching. I used to be a school teacher, so I know this problem from the inside. The Department of Education is not applying itself to alleviating this lack of Jawanese language instructors, neither is it encourage pupils to study the subject.
There are models that can instruct us as we embark on the road back to ourselves. For example, the native language of Ireland was once nearly dead. For many years it was only spoken in small rural villages. But since the early 1900’s, when Ireland gained its independence from the English, their Gaelic language, known today as “Irish”, has once again emerged into prominence. Today, Irish is taught in schools throughout Ireland. There are many parallels between Ireland and Indonesia that are germane to this discussion. Like Indonesia, Ireland is a former colony. Like Indonesia, the reclaiming of their language and culture was essential to their future. It was an important element of the casting off of colonial oppression.
Today in Ireland there are two official languages, English and Irish. I am proposing that we have something quite similar to that in Indonesia. The teaching of both Indonesian and one’s regional language should be standard in our educational system. I have only dared to dream this. But Ireland has shown us that this is possible. We must lobby the Indonesian Parliament and apply pressure to the Department of Education to provide proper instruction in regional languages. Madurese, Balinese, Sundanese and all regional languages must be encouraged throughout Indonesia, not as a replacement for the study of Indonesian and English, but rather as an elective study. But we must not rely on the government to make this a reality. Whether or not our efforts to pressure the government are successful, we must proceed with an ambitious educational agenda of our own. The Yayasan Pawartos Jawi must work co-operatively with Padepokans, the Kraton families, the National Library, and Gramedia bookstores to make good quality Jawanese instruction available throughout Jawa.
This can work, hopefully! If enough of us are committed in terms of time, effort and resources, I have no doubt that this is possible. This is not the first time that a languages has become nearly extinct, only to find that a younger generation thirsts for the continuity and enlightenment that it brings into daily life. Jawanese is still spoken and understood by millions of Jawanese people. For this reason, we have a significant head start on this project, and we must not fail. I hope to work closely on this project with many of you in the coming years. There are many ideas, perhaps better ideas that I have not considered. I need your input and your help. The Kraton families, celebrities and scholars from all over the world can join in these efforts, and we need each and every one of you. Even though Jawanese culture and language is a local matter, our need for your help and support can build coalitions that reach around the world.
The greatest poetry that should engage our interest is not found in the works of Ranggawarsita. The greatest mode of expression that informs our search for survival is, ‘the poetry of need’. It is the ‘poetry of need’ that has produced all human invention. And language is the ultimate human invention. Language is the ultimate tool through which we explore all human need. Language is the invention that has enabled every other human invention. Language is not an ornament on our culture. No. It is at the very heart of who and what we are. And Jawanese is the language with which we have tackled each problem on this blessed island.
With Jawanese, we have discussed the planting of crops, and the deepest yearnings of our hearts. To reject Jawanese now is to reject the wisdom and insight of thousands of years. To reject Jawanese is to force ourselves into the position of having to reinvent the wheel. The decision not to teach and promote Jawanese on the island of Jawa is a declaration that we see ourselves as less important, less valuable than our colonial masters. After years of reflection on this subject, I have rejected this helpless image of ourselves. The question we are required to answer as we contemplate our future survival or demise is as follows: Will the Jawanese people reject the subordination of ourselves to the desires of our colonial masters, past and present? If we reject it, Jawanese will be saved. Thank you.