Lesson #1: “Worries come from insecurities; insecurities come from feeling inadequate; inadequacy comes from greed or not trusting the Supreme being” #simpleasthat 

Next time, it’s probably wiser to have tea accompanying such a delicate conversation.

The first day I arrived in Ambon, I met Chiko. He was a creative Moluccan, originally from Langgur, southeast of Ambon. 

After two hours of conversation over three cups of Rarobang coffee, we decided NOT to continue our plan to collaborate producing a video series on living with tolerance. 

“I worry that this series will send out a shocking message to most Indonesians,” he said. 

He was even worried that nobody in Ambon would be brave enough to be associated with the production if it happens at all. 

Some wounds are better covered, not healed (or, really?)

Unfortunately, there weren’t many books that were brave enough to ask, “What really happened?” This one was close enough.

A few weeks before I arrived in Ambon, I was introduced to Chiko. We then exchanged strings of messages about the technicalities of producing video series. But we rarely, if any, discussed the message of tolerance that was expected from the series. 

The topic of tolerance was rather familiar to Indonesia and, especially, Ambon. But it seemed that this POV was somewhat unexpected and disturbing. At least to Chiko. 

The series would ask commoners in Banda to reflect their personal understanding of tolerance. The rather new POV was to what extent they are willing to stretch these boundaries. 

When I probed Chiko on what he admitted as a rather provoking POV, it revealed deep personal wounds inside him. 

A wound so perfectly covered with layers of his hilarious jokes on democracy. 

A wound buried so deep that, when it finally unearthed, he felt it as fresh and painful as yesterday. 

He said, “Nobody asked me similar questions for a long time. I guess I’m just not prepared to respond.” 

But he did respond; with his agonizing insecurity seen in his gesture. 

In fact, unbeknownst to him, he behaved exactly the same as the person I spoke with ten years ago

Forgetting or forgiving?

When we decided that we can no longer work together on this pro bono project, he bitterly admitted that he, and probably many of other Ambonese today, still had that worry; that his concept of tolerance scratches the surface and will easily fade away. 

“Your series might wake people up and requestion why we did what we did,” he said, referring to tolerance as he understood. 

He worried that the tolerance that many had practiced was a quick fix to keep the fire out. 

How did we start to worry?

I heard many fragments of stories about how in the not-so-distant past, Moluccans would put adat – or customaries – over religions. Today, out-of-place churches like this one, silently spoke about that past.

Just before I had my last cup of coffee, I learned from Chiko that his worries were driven by dark insecurities that can stay dormant, deep beneath his attractive appearances. 

Insecurities that the skin-deep concept of tolerance he had today wouldn’t be sufficient to keep up with the growing number of more liberals, like him. 

Insecurities that, someday, we all learned about the superficial concept of tolerance is a quick fix to keep out the fire. 

Insecurities that, after all, God of all mankind is the same, regardless of how we call or praise Him. 

Believing is knowing. Trusting is laying upon one’s future of life, wholeheartedly. 

There, to my own reflection, I’ve had similar insecurities: that I didn’t trust God as much as I believed His existence.