In this era marked by the growing movement of people between rural and urban areas, across regions and continents, practically all nations need to develop positive ways to work with the social reality of people from various ethno-cultural backgrounds with diverse languages and religious practices residing in, visiting, or journeying through their countries. In Indonesia, for instance, diversity becomes very important to highlight due to the fact that Indonesia is known as the largest archipelago and one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse nations.

We all know that the basic framework of Indonesian diverse life is based on the Pancasila ideology (the five principles). It particularly holds that the diversity of ethnicities, religions, and races are the assets or wealth of the nation. Through Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, the concept of togetherness and ethnic unification will bring back the spirit of the Indonesian people to uphold unity in diversity. This principle was actually proposed after the Indonesian Independence by the Indonesia’s first President, Ir. Soekarno.

As proposed by Soekarno, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika or Unity in Diversity is a concept that concerns not only tolerance of religious differences but also that of physical, cultural, linguistic, political and ideological differences. Commemorating the birth of Pancasila which takes place on June 1st, Indonesia highlights the theme of “Pancasila in United Action for Resilient Indonesia (Pancasila dalam Tindakan Bersatu untuk Indonesia Tangguh)”. Let’s take a closer look at how Indonesians live hand in hand with diversity from the following portrayals.

Religious tolerance in Unity in Diversity is depicted from the acceptance of various religions in Indonesia. While Indonesia is a home to the largest number of Muslims in the world, however, its constitution guarantees religious rights for all. At least six world religions find adherents in Indonesia, including Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. In addition to its diversity, the physical portrayal of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika is apparent in architectural arts in places of worship such as mosques, churches, Hindu and Buddha temples. These buildings have been around for a long time and utilized by Indonesian people for various activities such as worship, deliberation and other social activities. Hindu architecture has also long inspired mosques, palaces and graves in terms of physical designs. Moreover, acculturation has become the primary feature of the architecture of Islamic mosques in Indonesia.

The concept of Unity in Diversity exists also in how diverse the languages are spoken throughout Indonesia. There are more than 700 vernacular languages and dialects used in Indonesia, which are spoken by various ethnic groups such as Acehnese, Batak, Sundanese, Javanese, etc. However, since the Independence, Bahasa Indonesia has increasingly been spoken as a second language by most of the population and more recently increasingly as a first language as well, coexisting alongside other native languages in Indonesia. Moreover, in Eastern Indonesia, where there is the greatest diversity, many of the languages are Papuan, related to the languages of Papua New Guinea.

Having shared the brief reflection on the very vast topic of the Indonesian ideology of Pancasila and Bhinneka Tunggal Ikaor Unity in Diversity, some conclusions are drawn prior to this matter. In Indonesia, diversity in all aspects of life is not described as a threat to the unity of the Indonesian nation, but it is expected to be able to act as a source of wealth for the Indonesian nation throughout its history. Moreover, Unity in Diversity encompasses a larger portion, including religious, physical, and linguistic diversity. All of these forms need to be implemented hand in hand in order to create a harmonious life. Let’s then celebrate the moment of reincarnating the values of Pancasila and Bhinneka Tunggal Ika by embracing all forms of diversity. anw.