We showed the film first and then Nashir shared his observations and thoughts about the past five years.
When it was my turn, I decided to ditch my power point presentation and my written text. There were between 35 and 60 people in the room (at various times) and it seemed important not to present a cut and dried talk, but to stimulate the group to think about what has become, for me, a central point. Since being asked to present a talk to the Samosir Regency about the future of Batak weaving, I have sifted down to this central point:
|An archaeologist added important|
information about design.
Statistics and tides are against the Batak people. Languages are disappearing rapidly around the world. So are indigenous craft techniques and other facets of culture. Batak culture is slipping away increasingly rapidly, each decade more devastating than the last. The global economy does not support indigenous culture. The question then is: will the Batak people allow the slide to continue? Not to decide is to decide. Will they let Batak culture slip away like sand between their fingers and will they be satisfied with that? If not, will they take matters into their hands and carve out a space for their culture? If they choose to take matters into their own hand, they will have to create and protect a bubble within the global economy.
|An old friend, Professor at Nommensen|
whose heart is invested
in Batak culture.
|Two members of Forum Si Singa|
|Poet, Ompu Lela Jingga|
|boru Hutabarat from a government office|
|Two bright, articulate students|
After the seminar I suffered a dip. How much time and energy and thought will I invest in this quest? Does my investment have value? Will it be wasted? Am I throwing away my life? Only the future will tell. If the textiles become extinct, will my invested effort have had any value? I am Sisyphus pushing the rock uphill. Is this the human condition? Is it our fate to push on, like Don Quixote, no matter what, towards our goal even if the end point is not guaranteed? It reminds me of the first Pulang Kampung expedition. I justified it by knowing that even if only just a single book were to inspire a young person, the journey would have been worth it. Why do I doubt now? The book has inspired so many. The pebble in the pond creates many ripples. Proverbial butterfly wings can whip up storms. And yet the doubts crowd in. I am pushed on, at times, only by the spectre of the alternative: drinking tea while the building I am in burns down. We must fight for what is beautiful in this world. We have no other choice.