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One can easily argue that the concept of inequality in life has already started when one was born into this world. Some people were born into families that have everything, and while others arguably would have to struggle a lot more during their quests to financial stabilities. Certainly, no one wish to be born into a poor/financially struggling family and it’s not like we have a say in it before coming into this world. However, we do have the power to choose how we will live our lives with what we have been given.
I was born and raised in Jakarta and have spent most of my life here. It’s no secret that Jakarta has a big issue over social and economic inequality among its residents. Over the years, I’ve had friends from Australia, Phillipines, Singapore and other various countries coming over for holiday and most of the time I had to explain to them why some people could afford to buy the latest BMW cars and others were picking up scraps and pieces of garbage off the street for living.
My realization of this social/economic gap has started as early as I could remember. My parents used to take me and my sister to orphanages when we were kids to show that there’s a whole different world out there filled with less fortunate people. Of course I had to learn the lesson the hard way as well : growing up, there were times when I had been mugged and asked for money by these ‘less fortunate’ kids on the streets. Since then, I had been really conscious when it came to social/economic gap among people and brought this experiences and knowledge with me as I turned older and became an adult.
At present, I’m a 26 year-old guy working as an English teacher for an enrichment learning centre. Eighty percent students that I teach go to International schools where the facilites are vastly better and could cost about ten times as expensive as state-owned schools. Having been teaching for almost two years now, at one point I realised that most of these kids have never been on Jakarta’s public transportations nor have they experienced the crowded, sweaty, traditional markets that my Mom would take me to every Sunday when I was a kid. I was puzzled.
One of the things that has to be done in order to stop these massive disparities is to have the ‘more fortunate’ people share their wealth/knowledge/love/time with the lesser ones, especially with the way our systems right now only benefit certain classes of people. It’s simple and yet its the most effective way. And for this to work, awareness among people and kids from young age is crucial. Kids need to know what really happens out there, on the other side of their parents’ car window.
Without ignoring my main responsibility of teaching my students English grammar and how to write a well-structured essay, a big part of mastering a language is about communicating ideas. Ideas are formed from knowledge, experience and the world around us. I tried to transfer some of these to my students in class everytime I had a chance. Hopefully they take something from these processes, no matter how small it is.
At the end of the day, it is about holding on to that hope that something will change in the future and make sure that we are doing something, anything that will propel the current’s state of things towards that change, no matter how small it might be. Seeing how bleak things are and the fact that our government turns into a bigger joke every day, I feel like the social/economic gap among Jakarta’s residents is sadly our problem to solve.