Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Have you ever wondered why we can feel pain?

In our body, lies an overarching system called the nervous system. It consists of two parts: central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and peripheral nervous system (sensory, motor neurons, etc). This complex system controls how the body operates: whenever we encounter external stimuli, the sensory neurons throughout our body will send signals to the central nervous system, the central nervous system determines which action the body will take, then it sends another signal to corresponding motor neurons to execute the action. 

Of course it's more complicated than that, but who wants to learn this much in single blog post?

It turns out "pain" is how the brain interprets many of the external stimuli that pose danger to us. Sharp thorns, flaming torch, chilling ice, they all possess harmful quality to humans. Thorns could pierce through our skin, damaging the tissue and exposing it to infectious agent; Pain that we feels when we touch one is the way of our body saying, "Stop whatever you're doing and Ctrl+Z to previous position!" Not only beneficial, this "warning" system is very important for our survival. A person with high tolerance for pain might be stronger, but he will probably hurt himself a lot more in the process. This reason, along with some others, is probably why nervous system become prevalent in most of the multicellular organism. 

Apparently, survival of this plant rooted in humanity's masochistic
tendency to consume substance that triggers pain

The source of pain that we're having don't have to be physical pain, there's also emotional ones. Loosing something so dear to us, such as death of loved ones, can give real emotional pain. Emotional pain is even linked with the physical ones. According to Professor Martin Cowie from Brompton Hospital, "There is an increased risk of dying in the six months after bereavement and it's particularly marked amongst men." Men, do take care of your loved ones if you don't want to die early.

Anyway, where am I going with all these? Well, I'm discussing about pain because around this month, 16 years ago, Indonesia faced a very painful chapter in its history: May 1998 Riots. During these times, violent riots broke off in several big cities in Indonesia. Numerous buildings were burned, thousand civilians were killed, hundreds woman (mainly from Indonesian' Chinese ethnic) were raped, while the fully equipped armed and police forces were "unable" to contain the situation. Fast forward 16 years, and here we are: still stuck in square one. No apology from the government for their failure of protecting their citizens, no legal inquiry were made by the Attorney General Office, and still no justice for the victims. I would love to share more, but sadly my knowledge goes only as far as this below clip shows.

Remembering this painful tragedy is not pleasant, even for someone who wasn't affected directly like me. I cannot start to imagine how the survivors would feel, having to continue their lives with that big of emotional burden. How it affects their lives, and their future. 

Maybe it is easier to just forget about all of these things and live like nothing has ever happened. And maybe that's what's happening in our country: people choose to forget bad things that happened in the past. The way some people regard Soeharto era as better than current regime reflects this tendency. But it is important to always remind ourselves about the tragedy, particularly like this one. Remembering our past won't guarantee a better future, but forgetting it will only lead to disasters. If we cannot reverse what had already happened, the least we can do is prevent another tragedy to happen ever again. If we don't remember our own history, then who will?

PS: Reflections for my previous post will have to wait for next time! Stay tune for that :)