By Aulia Rachmat Sungkar, published in The Jakarta Post on May 26, 2004.
As I was driving my car, all of a sudden a big red monster cut me off. It was so close it impeded my reflex to step on the break pedal. I thank God I was lucky to escape an accident.
On the same day, two motorcycles recklessly cut me off when I was driving in the slower lane. I had little time to figure out how to get out of their way because the one-way street unexpectedly became a two-way road.
We are used to facing these unpleasant traffic scenes in our daily lives. However ignorant of the road rules we may be, we know that such behavior is not right.
As Indonesians we should realize that we lack discipline. While our country has encountered numerous obstacles in this era of reform, many of us need to take simple steps towards personal change — to discipline our behavior in traffic.
Many of us have underestimated the importance of being disciplined when we drive. In fact, our unruly traffic behavior illustrates our general character. The character of a nation can be seen from its people’s attitude when driving.
In Indonesia, people only use their instincts to take part in the social system. Despite the fact there are traffic rules, people feel safer using their instincts instead.
There are rules to every game and we need to apply these rules in our daily lives. Surely, we are not animals who live in the jungle with no rules. Animals can only rely on their instincts to survive. Unfortunately, it seems that instinct, not logic, rules in this country.
Instinct is an innate aptitude and it is essential that we use our instincts in dealing with life in general. However, this is not the only strength we can draw on.
It seems to me that our lack of discipline characterizes not only our driving but also our handling of the economy and politics.
Are corruption, collusion and nepotism some of the outcomes of such indiscipline? Does our government prefer to run this country by instinct rather than follow the rules?