(The following story has nothing to do with cancer… I wrote this because I was upset towards the condition surrounding us. Everything seemed to go wrong with many people being unethical, dishonorable and corrupt. )
Wedding receptions have different meanings for different people.
To the bride and groom, it is a public deceleration of ever-lasting love, even though some might find that their till-death-do-us-apart vow blows with the wind. To an event organizer, its a routine part of a multi-billion rupiah business, while for some guests it may just mean a free meal.
Last month I got a glaring pink wedding invitation from my cousin, he was going to throw a party for his youngest son's wedding at a five-star hotel in the city.
"With all due respect please bring this to be shown at the reception desk. Thank you for your cooperation." The words were written on a small card attached. Maybe the card could be exchanged for a wedding souvenir, or maybe if I brought the card, I would get a chance to win a door prize, I thought.
I was wrong -- totally.
The guests were required to bring the card to prevent gate-crashers from intruding on the party. "I have a relative who used to be one. Sometimes on the weekends he and his friends would dress up and go to a wedding at a hotel. They would bring envelopes as gifts," a friend commented.
Giving money in envelopes is a relatively new tradition. People used to give practical household items like dinner sets, cooking utensils, a blender or a clock.
But the newly-wed couple might not need these things and instead keep them in a cupboard until its their turn to go to a wedding and a present is needed.
Until several years ago, I found written requests on wedding invitations asking guests to give money instead of other present. For most people, of course, money is more appealing than a toaster.
So, uninvited guests could also bring an envelope as a wedding gift, but who's to know what's inside?. My friend said that when they crashed a wedding they would put as little Rp 1,000 (less than a dime) in each envelope.
The party poopers must laugh, imagining how shocked the bride and bridegroom will be when they open their envelope.
They think it is funny, but its actually really awful.
Those intruders are not poor people who are starving, they show up at the hotel in a nice car wearing their best suits and shoes. They come from wealthy families and are well educated. Indeed, this has nothing to do with education or class.
Educated, rich people can do shameful things. There are many stories about this. My Indonesian friend, who lives in Melbourne, was telling me one when visiting Jakarta recently.
A man from Jakarta who got a scholarship for a three-month post-graduate course in Melbourne brought along his wife and their baby. He bought a cheap, old car, which would allow them to get around during their stay in the country and could be sold later when they were done with it.
He also bought a baby seat to be put onboard, as required by local law.
In Australia and some other developed countries, customers are able to return goods they buy within a certain period of time, let's say 30 days, if they are not satisfied. So, the man bought a baby seat for the car, but after a month he returned it to the shop, and bought another one in another shop; he did this three times.
"And he told us his story proudly. He thought he was really smart," my cheesed-off friend told me.
The fact that the man was awarded a scholarship indicated that he must have some brains, which he unfortunately used in the wrong way.
People like him and the wedding crashers have something in common: A lack of ethics. But they are more than just unethical, they are selfish, inconsiderate and insensitive. They are not smart, but sly and tricky. They would do anything just for their own benefit, no matter how bad the impact on other people is. They are sick and dangerous people.
They are the kind who, if businessmen, bribe government officials to secure permits to exploit natural resources, clear forests and mine destructively. They cheat whenever they can and exploit workers, forcing them to work hard for low wages.
If they are government officials, there is no doubt they are corrupt. They abuse their power, show little care for the people and violate human rights. They are against democracy and run things without a conscience.
As law enforcers they discriminate. They give some criminals special treatment and lenient sentences. Worse, they drop corruption cases for bribes at the right price.
If they are legislators, they do not listen to their constituents, let alone fight for them. They only think about their interests and how to secure them.
As lawmakers, they bow to special political interest groups, like those who endorsed the controversial anti-porn law. For the sake of money, they do not hesitate to approve shortsighted policies and act as brokers for multi-million dollar projects at government ministries.
Unfortunately there are so many people like this around us.
I wonder if they have a habit of going to weddings, without being invited, just for a free meal.
I would not be surprised if one day I receive a wedding invitation that says: "Please bring your ID card to be shown at the reception."
--T. Sima Gunawan