08 October 2008

Amazing Race, Amazing Life

Now, every Thursday evening, I have my favorite TV show broadcasted. Since last week, the reality show, Amazing Race Asia the 3rd has started. 10 finest teams across Asia have been selected and have competed in a race which sometimes pushes the racers to the bottom limit of their endurance, mentally and physically.
Ever since I saw the series of Amazing Race Asia or America, I kept mumbling when I finished watching the show, ‘so amazing, what amazing race’. I found it brilliant to create such a reality show. Moreover, I found the show title exactly reflects it, ‘Amazing Race’, it really is.
I saw participants that represent Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Philippine, Thailand, India, and Korea, but I saw none from Indonesia. Imagine, 200-million population country. Even Malaysia, whose population only 10% of Indonesia, has successfully sent its two couple of racers in this third Amazing Race Asia and so far, they have done impressively.
In the first and second Amazing Race, Indonesia had participants. Even in the first Amazing Race, the Indonesian brothers were able to keep up until the second last round, being the fourth best team out of ten teams. If we followed their races from the start until the pit stop in Dubai, in which they finally had to give up, we would be very proud of them and it was a heartbreaking to see they just lost it. Anyway, they had tried so hard.
Now, let us see this third Amazing Race Asia. Where are Indonesians? Are we that pathetic as no pair of Indonesian competent enough to lead their way and be equal with other Asian representatives?
It is so ironic, while the Amazing Race is designed to reach the bottom limit of mental and physical endurance of men; the race has been joined by people who might know nothing about the hardness of life. They come from middle to high level of society of countries which might be not as poor as Indonesia. Then, why Indonesian who would have used to live in such a hardship could not let them pass the qualification of the race. The race which is specially designed to go beyond normal life, the kind of life most Indonesian experiences daily. With everything is so difficult around us, high price, low income, things and pressure you should cope with as long as you live in Indonesia, actually Indonesian should have mentally prepared racers. Does it not sound like challenges in Amazing Race only it happens all the time in our actual life? Or, perhaps the big political event in 2009 affects it. Maybe, the best of our people are now concentrating for the amazing race of Indonesian version in the 2009 election. There is no time to participate in such Amazing Race reality show.
Another irony, when the difficulties are intentionally created to be conquered, we are absent. Yet, when such hardship has been successfully coped with by other Asian nations, particularly ASEAN countries, Indonesia still could not get a grip let alone get up. While to others the hardship and challenges of life have become TV show, we are experiencing them without camera let alone rewards.
Why could not we find just two finest Indonesian people that can represent their 200 million brothers in the third Amazing Race Asia? Perhaps, because to us, the hardship is not a TV show but it is part of the life itself. So, why bother to participate in such a race and be watched in TV. Still, I keep wondering why there could not be just two Indonesian people taking part in the race of Asian people.
In the show, every participant is pushed and forced to keep up with and complete the race. Even though they have to go through the night without sleeps. No unfinished race is allowed, every challenge must be dealt with conclusively to enable the racers to reach every pit stop. It is interesting to learn how men can endure under such circumstances amazingly.
In Amazing Race, both Asia and America, the pressures can dismantle and uncover the real character of its participants. There are patient, tolerant persons or emotional and moody kind of persons. We sometimes see some kind of mean and rude persons, pathetic persons, weak or kind of a blaming on other person type of people. They sometimes use very tricky and evil strategies to get rid off their competitors just to reach pit stop earlier than others. The rule of the game is so simple, never finish last at every pit stop, otherwise you will be eliminated. So simple, yet the process to achieve it very much startling and so hard. It is said that this particular Amazing Race Asia is the toughest race ever.
One of the interesting facts is nice team tends to be the winner of each race episode. Actually, it takes more than just brain or even muscles. It gets a complex formula to win the race. Internal factors that can drive the couple to win the race are solid cooperation between partners, trust in each other, be dependent on and relied upon on each other at the same time. High motivation and fighting spirit in every racer also contributes a lot to the success.
All teams have equal opportunity to win or lose because nobody can control external factors, such as delay in transportation, no public transportation available, unnecessary miscommunication with drivers can cause a team be eliminated. Any team can finish first at one pit stop but it can also be the second last team who arrived at another pit stop or even the last team arrived then eliminated.
I see similarities between Amazing Race and our lives as human being, regardless nationality. In the Amazing Race, we have to fight to avoid being the last team who reaches the pit stop and eventually struggle to be number one at the final pit stop at the end of the race season. In life, we often encounter challenges and race into competitions, fair or unfair ones.
Notwithstanding the complex factors, internally and externally, it was proven that during the first Amazing Race, the Indonesian couple could keep up their fight before giving up at the last two pit stops during the first Amazing Race Asia because they had counted more on their brain, rather than their muscles. Analogically, our nation, being one of the racers, is likely to win the fight of this life if we use our brain instead of muscles. Just like Amazing Race, the life is also affected by brain superiority, namely, planning, preparation, strategy and implementation.
Ironically, it seems that in our nation life muscles have dominated more than brain. The pathetic fact is when other Asian countries could get up and reach out from the crisis in 1998, as it happens now in the United States, Indonesian seems to go nowhere as it was 10 years ago. Where do we go wrong?
If we compare it with the Amazing Race in which every racer must finish the challenges conclusively, regardless how long it takes to finish it, it seems Indonesian people have failed or at least have not successfully concluded its challenges and reached its pit stop. Our nation has not completed the homework attributable to the crisis which has been suffered since ten years ago. Whilst, other countries have reached their pit stops quite long ago. It seems if we have not dealt with our home works conclusively, namely, domestic economy, social and political problems, it is likely that we will be the last team who reaches the pit stop.

Despite the similarities between Amazing Race and the amazing life, there is a significant difference. As to Amazing Race, it is so important to try hard to be the first and avoid being the last, there is no such a thing in real life. It does not matter whether we start first or last as long as we can reach pit stop safely. Without prejudice to other countries’ problems, it is possible that problems they faced were less complex than ours. The point is, no matter what, we have to try hard to solve our problems. We have to start to confide in each other and show others that we can be relied upon and trustworthy as much as we expect other people vice versa, for the sake of our nation.
Taking into account all the external factors, there is no guarantee that the existing more advanced countries will stay advance forever or Indonesia can not chase them one day. There is always a chance that Indonesia can position itself in an equal level to other countries.
So, it is clear that it takes more than just a bunch of brainy people to lead this nation but people who have vision and sense of nationalism, people who are humble enough to set aside their personal, group or foreign agenda for the sake of this nation survival in the amazing race of this precious life. It is okay if our country gets up a bit later than other countries, as long as we settle our challenges and ready to move toward next pit stops.

As it is in Amazing Race, let us hope that the next pit stop will not make our nation be eliminated. Just as the popular tag line of the host of Amazing Race, “The last team checks in may be eliminated”. How is it Indonesia?

Rasuna, 18 September 2008
Nela Dusan

No comments: