By W.S. Rendra
We are the stammering generation
Who are babied by the haughty generation.
We don’t get official education
Because we aren’t taught to be involved in politics
And aren’t taught about the fundamentals of the law.
We only vaguely understand what a person’s character is like,
Because we aren’t taught about the heart or psychology.
We don’t understand clear thinking
Because we aren’t taught philosophy or logic.
Weren’t we supposed
To understand all these things?
Were we only prepared
To just be tools?
This is the average picture
Of young people graduating from school,
Young people entering on their adulthood.
The foundation of our education is obedience,
Not the exchange of ideas.
What’s taught in school is rote learning,
And not practice explaining.
The foundation of justice as relationships,
with understanding of how humans behave
As individuals and in groups,
Isn’t considered a subject worth studying or testing.
We understand the reality of the world only dimly,
Signs that are visible everywhere,
Are dots we can’t join.
We’re angry with ourselves
We’re frustrated about our futures.
We just enjoy life of stupidity and comfort.
As we stammer,
All we can do is buy and consume,
We aren’t capable of creating.
We aren’t capable of leading.
But we are able to use authority –
Exactly like our fathers.
The education in this country is oriented to the West.
Over there children are prepared
To be the tools of industry.
With their industry that rolls on endlessly,
But here we’re prepared to serve as the tools of what?
We just become the tools of bureaucracy!
And a bureaucracy that’s grown bloated,
Totally useless –
Darkness. All I can see is darkness.
Education doesn’t provide enlightenment.
Training doesn’t provide jobs.
Darkness. My agony is darkness.
The people who live in unemployment.
What is this happening all around me?
Because we can’t work it out,
It’s easier for us to lose ourselves in dope poetry.
What is the meaning of these complicated signs?
What does this mean? What does this mean?
Ah, inside spaced out,
Face covered in blood
Looks like the moon.
Why do we have to put up with this life?
A person has the right to a medical degree,
Is regarded as an educated person,
Without any test of their understanding of justice.
And if tyranny runs rampant,
They don’t utter a word,
Their job is just to give people needles.
What the hell? Are we going to continue being silent?
Are just regarded as show ponies for ceremonies,
While the law is stabbed in the back again and again.
Are just considered plastic flowered,
While people go broke and corruption runs wild.
We’re inside a kaleidoscope
That is magic and inscrutable.
We are inside a prison of fog that befuddles.
Our hands reach out searching for something to grab onto.
And if we miss,
We hit and claw –
at thin air.
We are the stammering generation.
Who are babied by the bastard generation.
Life force has been replaced by avarice.
Enlightenment has been replaced by repression.
We are the dangerous generation.
23 June, 1977
Ode to Youth (Sajak Anak Muda), State of Emergency, W.S. Rendra, Wild & Woolley, Glebe, 1978, p. 18.
Image of #DaruratDemokrasi from https://www.instagram.com/p/BZGoo6DFQg4.