Through describing his own experiences and those of his friends Nagara indicates not only the story of the movement for social change in Indonesia but also offers something of a blueprint for those seeking social change everywhere.
The book begins with an indication of how the writer was shaped by his upbringing as the child of a dissident. He also sets his own experiences in the wider context of rising activism throughout the world; describing this formative period as ‘a political storm’.
Nagara shows how experiences at school were an influence too, relating a story in which a classmate (Sulaiman), recruits the support of neighbourhood friends to help him deal with a bullying incident. Sulaiman finds the same approach proves equally effective when dealing with larger scale bullying as a community leader. Through these anecdotes the principle of solidarity is introduced. Other key concepts such as corruption, nepotism and collusion are explained simply and clearly in relation to events in Indonesia.
Specific instances of injustice linked to corruption by the state are outlined – including the misdirection of government funds for drugs during a medical epidemic and indifference to the fate of the poor when a landslide triggered by a dam building project causes many to lose their homes and in some cases their lives.
Examples of the way activism can make a difference is described, for example when direct community action halted plans to build a golf course on paddy fields thereby protecting livelihoods. And hence the book’s subtitle.
Written by the same author as the highly successful A is for Activism this new book provides a highly readable introduction to the social movement for change and the power of the individual to make a difference. Grounded in his own experience and knowledge, it is written in an accessible style and very apposite at a time when young people are becoming increasingly politically and socially engaged. Nagara is a talented artist and graphic designer and the striking full colour illustrations throughout the book add to the drama and appeal of the book.