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Why are we influenced so much by events in other countries? The answer is that communications, broadcasting are powerful media which are influencing us every day. Many nations, societies, peoples are concerned about the profound influence of global communications and broadcasting. They are concerned about the shifting of value systems, change of religious beliefs, loss of cultural identity. Several examples have been quoted by experts. They say, "Look at Japan, very modern, but still maintaining her cultural identity. Must we search for ways and systems of entering the global communications era while maintaining our cultural identities?
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I personally believe that we have reached a point of no return. We can no longer establish an iron curtain around us. We have to accept that global communications will become even more powerful in potentially influencing our cultural identity. It is up to each one of us to critically look at what we wish to preserve as our cultural identity. Cultural identity is normally lined with geographical environment, historical developments, language, technological development, social groupings and organisation, stages of education, science and technology, working environment, value systems, religion and artistic expressions.
Examination of these elements tells us that most, if not all of them are dynamic in nature. We must therefore conclude that cultural identities are intrinsically dynamic and thus subject to influence by external elements. This means that we must also accept that Global Communications with information of global developments due to the progress of science and technology will impact, influence and change some of the elements of our cultural identities.
Our concern should be whether the impact or change is positive or negative. Accepting that changes are unavoidable does not mean that we will allow everything to be wiped out, destroyed or forgotten. It is our duty to critically examine the elements which we must preserve, which will be maintained as our specific cultural identities, of which we can be proud.
Some of us would fight hard to protect our value systems, our religious systems, some forms of artistic expression, but at the same time would have no problem in accepting changes relating to technology, the way we work, the way we interact and the way we organise our society. The challenge is thus to develop our criteria for selecting which elements are important to preserve and which can be renewed or replaced and also the mechanism we need to employ to ensure the attainment of the desired results. Most cultures have adopted religious systems, political and legal systems as methods of preservation.
Promotion of cultural appreciation, which will help us preserve some of that cultural identity we value, also needs our attention. Modern, global communications, have made our world a small city of intelligence. Distance is no longer relevant to our way of life. We can obtain, process, store, transmit and utilise information at the speed of light. With modern communications, we enhance our competitiveness, we accelerate our national development, we modernize and integrate our economy and our society, we improve our national efficiency and productivity, we strive for equitable distribution of our development, we eliminate isolation of remote and rural areas, we attract capital inflow for infrastructural development.
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For Indonesia, excellent communications through the PALARPA satellites have played a vital role in uniting a very diverse population, strengthened the cohesiveness of the people and promoted a national cultural identity of the Indonesian people. However the achievement of a sense of national identity has not eliminated distinctive regional cultures, but rather aroused a sense of pride in the diversity which is a source of Indonesia's rich cultural heritage.
Indonesia is the largest archipelagic nation in the world with 17, islands, with more than ethnic groups, each with its own language.
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One of the strengths of the Indonesian people is expressed in Indonesia's national motto: "Unity in diversity. Perhaps the Indonesian experience is worth noting as input for our conference. What are our cultural identities? How do you describe an Indonesian or a Japanese for that matter? Is language an identity? Perhaps "Yes". What about religion?
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The value systems, unique traditions, dances and song? Our State Philosophy? Accepting diversity as a strength, we are mindful of the vital role of communications in bonding the diverse cultures, diverse ethnic groups, diverse languages, diverse religious beliefs into one nation.
Through our experience we have also learned to accept that the world is so diverse with its more than nations. We believe that global communications will play a vital role in uniting the peoples of the world. Global communications give global access to information, global contact and encounter, global appreciation of the diverse cultures of the world, global access to market places, global outlook to view mankind as one, global common experiences as for example when we watch a global sport or cultural event.
Diversity is indeed a spice of life, a potential source of strength and character. As I elaborated earlier, by the year , the beginning of the 21st century, the linking of our world through global communications will be nearly completed. Our world will be circled by Superhighways of Information. Our skies will be loaded with satellites for broadcasting our communication.
Interconnectivity, potential encounters, exchange of information, TV, scientific and cultural programs should be easy. Does this mean that our world will become one world, integrated and united economically and politically, harmonised culturally?
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I do not believe this will be the case. The observation of John Naisbitt in his book "Megatrends " says "The more homogeneous our lifestyles become, the more steadfastly we cling to deeper values religion, language, art and literature. As our outer worlds grow more similar, we will increasingly treasure the traditions that spring from within. In some ways we will be more and more globalised in our lifestyle, business, factories, music, fashion, fast food. However the inner elements, the fundamentals of language, philosophy, religion and value systems will remain in diversity.
However, as President Soeharto has stated: "Let these differences unite us Global communications will improve our ability to share our diverse cultures, diverse opinions, our diverse value systems, our diverse knowledge. One thing is sure: "Our diversity" will remain with us. Maybe the national motto of Indonesia, "Unity in Diversity", can serve as a shining light for the future ahead. Last updated: 16 May - pm.
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