Summerschoolblog: Big dreams and small steps

27 juli 2016

Summerschoolblog: Big dreams and small steps

I am August Leonardo Kurniawan but am often called Leo. Usually our days are filled with lectures, discussions and debates, but today there is something different. We did something quite challenging, namely, we each designed a workshop as follow up from the program. After we return home, we all have to give a workshop in a community which we can choose ourselves. Our ideas had to be poured into a poster.  

We had to be creative and use different materials to show our plans, the target group, objectives and also link it to one (or more) of the summer school topics and readings. When we started, all comrades began to think hard. They started cutting paper, sketching in books, there was much brooding. We began looking for references on the internet. All methods were used to obtain the best results possible.

After completion, another challenge arose: to present the poster. The results were very intriguing. Various ideas were born. There were workshops on student movements, various trainings on contemporary culture in relationship to democracy, gender and ecology and public discussions with various themes. Everyone seemed enthusiastic and determined to make their workshop happen.

However, the topic of pluralism, development and social change is very big. What we can do is like an attempt to hoard an ocean with rocks. This is a bit confusing. The dream seems too big and ideals can soar away into the sky. This can make people fall and stop fighting. But no travel destination or dream can be realized without taking small steps. It may be impossible if only one or two people are trying, but today this big dream was shared by 19 people, who gave each other feedback, corrections, and mutual support.

This way, we no longer threw a rock in the ocean, but together we built a strong foundation for a high tower from where we can see the horizon.

I will close today’s reflection with a story about an old man from a remote village, where electricity was not available. When electricity came to the village, the old man was thrilled because just by pressing a switch, the lights would lit up as bright as a candle. At that time only 5 watt bulb were offered. But then a salesman came, and asked: why do you put such dim lights? It can damage the eyes. He then offered a 100 watt bright bulb. But the old man did not believe it and asked where the 100-watt bulb would be installed? The salesman replied that his lights would be installed in the same place as the 5 watt lamp. The old man laughed: how could one use the same place, but expect a brighter light? But the salesman replaced the lamp and the old man was surprised to see a light far brighter than candlelight.

We can realize that electricity has great power, but what limits its strength is the wattage of the bulbs which are used. What we need to know, is that we have tremendous potential to succeed, but that underemployment can make the dream small. A better world will come true if we have big dreams and dare to make it happen with small steps.

Leo Kurniawan works as Lecturer in Religion and Phenomenology, Christianity and Ethics at Maranatha Christian University, Bandung, Indonesia where he also serves as Executive Secretary of the Center for Diversity and Peace Studies.