Don’t Discard the Old

By Anand Krishna

Don’t judge the content by the title.

We are closer to the last Christmas than the next – no, I am not talking old and new in “that” sense.

I am talking about old buildings, old structures, old ideas and old institutions versus the new ones. Travelling through Europe or the Indian subcontinent, we can see so many of them carefully preserved. Indeed, in Europe many of them are still in liveable condition. Not so here, in Indonesia. You don’t get to see too many old buildings.

The old must give way to the new, yes. But does that mean the old must be “killed” to create a space for the new?

They do not wait until maturity to marry and give birth to both legal and illegal offspring. The republicans and democrats are not satisfied with such identities alone. The generics are out – they must have their own specific brands. The same is with the liberals and conservatives, the left and the right wings, the religious and the nationalists, the labour and the capitalists.

Unity is sexy a matter to discuss and glorify, but not to practice. We are experts are disuniting. Perhaps “divide et impera” is the only lesson we learned from our colonial masters, in which we are adepts.

Recently I met a veteran politician, who sighed: “This is the only country where none of the founding parties of the nation exist.” I had never thought of that, but, yes, he is right.

We don’t have to go that far behind in history. Just look at the fate of the so-called new, post-reformation (1998) parties. They are not doing any better either. What is wrong?

It could be in our genes that we are not good at preserving things. We are not good at holding things together. We do not have proper records of our ancient history.

In the past we used to have the multi-volume Sejarah Nasional Indonesia – the Indonesian National History. Nowhere close to Arnold Toynbee’s A Study of World History or even John Keay’s modern history of India – but, at least, we had something on our history, written by our own people. Now, no more. For more than a decade, the official line is that it is being revised.

Well, histories do not record facts alone. It is full of perspectives. Let there be another multi-volume edition with fresh perspectives. Why kill the “old perspectives”? But, no, before writing something new, we make sure that the old is “killed,” or buried alive. We want uniformity. We do not like pluralistic views.

How many old buildings are left? Not too many. They do not fare any better than our political parties or history books. Even 20-30 years old buildings are often torn down without any emotion or sentiment. Great, we are yogis, no attachments! Are we?

Or we are simply looking for shortcuts and easier ways. I have been discussing this with builders and contractors for the past 30 years, “Why tear down a building that can be renovated?” Their answers have been uniform: “It is easier, cheaper and more efficient to tear down the old and rebuild.”


Not always.

I am not a builder. But my ninth sense tells me that it is not always so. Besides that, what about the value of restoring the old, something that has a historical value?

Did you know that when we began the restoration of Borobudur complex, there were people who not only opposed it but did so quite violently?

Many of our old institutions and values are still relevant; they are good, and of universal nature. What is the need to establish a new institution? Just like our builders, our leaders are also experts in burying alive the old, or discarding them, and establish new ones. Why? What is the rationale behind this?

Perhaps this is because when we revive an old institution we do not get “full” credit. The institution will still be known as founded by such and such person. And we cannot take this. We cannot share the credit. We like to take full credits.

So we allow the old die prematurely for want of care, and focus on creating new ones, which may not be as good as the old.

I am not against the “new”; I am all for it.

What I am against is the idea of burying alive the old that still has some life left. I am against allowing the old die prematurely. I am against forsaking the old just to appease our personal ego and the craving for credits.

History is not always in the museums. History is a continuum and has lessons to teach. If we do not learn the lessons, as George Santayana often said, we are doomed to repeat them.

Our discard of the old, be they the universal values, liveable buildings, or relevant institutions, will result in us being discarded by our successors. The Law of Consequence, the Karma, is always at work. Let us learn to appreciate the old values, which are still relevant and can guide us in making this world a better place to live.

Anand Krishna is a spiritual activist and author with healing centres in Jakarta and Bali, including a new live-in ashram in Ubud (www.ubud.anandashram.asia).


Filed under: Anand Krishna

33 Responses to “Don’t Discard the Old”

  1. adrian Says:

    We are tend to forget everything, this forgetfulness is not help our progress a human being. We have a short memory circuit problem. We are fail to choose wisely, what is preserve and what is discard.

    Some country in Europe even still have a library from the beginning of history origin it’s country. What a shame, we are not knowing and not preserving how this republic is build.

    Thank you Mr. Anand krishna, it is our duty to learn from wise legacy from the past, to absorb the wisdom from our ancestor heritage.

  2. made edy Says:

    We always looking an easy way. Build up the new ones and discarding the old. Its a bad habit. Old lessons are necessary as well as the new ones. Thank you Pak Anand for remind me of this lesson.

  3. didit Says:

    Tq sir for your article, as Bung Karno said “Jas Merah” – Jangan sekali-kali melupakan sejarah

  4. Haryadi Says:

    Sir, is this the reason why that we keep on repeating the lessons all over again?
    It seems that we don’t continue our lesson. If only we preserve the old, the old can serve as basis, as a layer for the next layer for our growth to the next layer.

  5. dr. Sayoga Says:

    It is great and an enlightened article. This arcticle has a lot of inspired prespectives. Thank you so much Pak Anand.

  6. hermawaty Says:

    The Old has one thing that the New hasn’t ‘WISDOM’. From the Old we learn how to create the New, new life, new future and still remain and learn from history. So let’s do like the title “Don’t Discard the Old” cause someday we become old too, and we don’t want to discard isn’t we? :)

  7. sitha soerjo Says:

    Love this article…I also believe that the good old values should be preserved so that we can always have some “roots” to go back to and learn from the history…there are so many things we need to re-learn…thank you for this article, as always, pak Anand writes the kind of articles which are enlightening, educating and make us think…thanks to Bali Times for being one of the “good guys” in media business. Very proud to have you in Indonesia.

  8. DIan M Says:

    Thanks for bringing again this perspective.

    Make me think deeper about my life, my history, my country history the world history.

    Many lesson in all that ancient history.

  9. solehah Says:

    “If we do not learn the lessons, as George Santayana often said, we are doomed to repeat them” noetd pak anand

  10. Tjiptaningsih Says:

    Thank you Bapak Anand Krishna for the article. It is so sad to know many old historical buildings are not taken care properly and destroyed. It can happen, i think, because of our education system. The students are not educated to appreciate our (Indonesia) values, buildings, old good customs, etc. That’s why when they are grown up and become the builders or holders of rules, they have no emotional attachment to destroy them. Let’s come back to Ki Hajar Dewantara’s education system

  11. Made Harimbawa Says:

    One of many reason that we, as a nation, are halting in our progress. Restarting a new process, finding a new values are taking, not only time, but energy! Energy that is needed in other more urgent problem.

    May we all seek forgiveness of our disrespect to our ancestors.

    Thank you once again Bapak Anand Krishna to show us our weakness.

  12. Sunarya Says:

    History is not just a history.. so many value and live lesson we can learn from it.. thanks to mr Anand to reminds..

  13. mahima Says:

    This article must be read. Thank you Mr.Anand for reminding us.

  14. M. Wintolo Says:

    Again pak Anand Krishna remind us that not the old things are bad and should be discarded….
    As a big nation, as many people say, we have been ignored to appreciate an old thing and do not take any value that might be usefull to be used to build for the next generation…..
    So we should remind the value that could be taken from the past…..

  15. timan Says:

    dear all,
    many people shame to use old things , they always have desire to use new for everything. Peoples in the villages are very materialistic. They have old style of their house ( old teak wood ) they sold old one and change to new building and replace bataco. They want to get money quickly. These influence to our politician too.
    Right, everythings with old side will be killed and replace by new one although , new one will bring us to …
    Thank you Mr Anand Krishna has reminded us with your writing

  16. suandara Says:

    what a great article Sir….thank you

  17. tri Says:

    Thanks Pak Anand. It’s a very clear view. The Law of Consequence, the Karma, is always at work. We discard the old and it will come the time when our “new” becoming “old” by our successor and it will be discarded too. Like when we come to move on a new direction, we don’t have to destroy the old path. Accept whatever happens to us and make a new direction. Let us learn to appreciate the old values, which are still relevant and can guide us in making this world a better place to live.

  18. Hariman Says:

    Our founding father Bung Karno once warned us about “jas merah” (jangan sekali kali meninggalkan sejarah), meanings never leave history! Now somebody has to remind and warn us again about it since we tend to forget and discard the old values that comes from our own ancestors, and it turn out to be you pak Anand! Thank you!

  19. Raysuvana Says:

    “old” and “new”. not easy to learn from the past and evolve to the new spirit. unconsciously sometimes i want to dropped all call old and build new. may be this called want to hide or to run away. but, to learn and take a value from the old is very important. move and evolve..
    thank You Bapak/Mr/Romo Anand Krishna for this enlighten articles and show the truth behind “the old and new”..love

  20. wayan german Says:

    thank you very much pak Anand for the article …you are right now we don’t respect the old such as building ,idea ……we never learn from history we just read it maybe we don’t know or we don’t want to know…….

  21. Diah Kusumadewi Says:

    Many thanks Sir for the article, reminding us that not all of those used buildings must be varnished and change with new buildings. We have to keep and maintain it so that our next generation will appreciate the history values on those particular buildings.

  22. mikaelS Says:

    Mmmm….Discard the old building and the value also. What a pity. I hope this article can read by The Goverment and people of Indonesia. Thanks a lot Mr.Anand.

  23. Putu Harum Says:

    I had experienced this ‘discard the old replace with the new’ thing since a long time ago. I remember when I was a young teenager in high school, a new Minister of Education was assigned and he had new policy and system in education which consequently changed my textbooks etc. At that time I was very disturbed already. Unfortunately, this minister was died around a year later. A new minister was assigned. And yes, he brought a long new policy, new system … and so on. It cultivated idea on my mind that was a common thing whenever comes a new leader will bring a long new policies, and discard the old ones. I become used to this thing, until now Mr. Anand reminds me with this article. Thank you sir….

  24. edi lampung Says:

    Thank you Pak Anand, this article give me a “fresh angle” about “old n new”. Bravo.

  25. Dyah R Says:

    A great nation is a nation that knows its roots, both historically and culturaly. This knowledge must be preserved so that it won’t extinct over time. This article by Mr. Anand Krishna shares a complete view of how we and the future generation can continue to preserve the roots of our nation. In order to do so, we should strive to maintain and conserve the remains from the past. Although many aspects of our old institutions and values must be adjusted accordingly as time changes, the initial ideas and values must be preserved as the future always builds from the past. History is a valuable heritage that will always be a part of us.

  26. Diah Says:

    ..burying alive the old that still has some life left. Waw.. you are very gentle.. I never think such a thing for a building. Thank you for reminding us..

  27. Asyikin Says:

    Sir,
    I feel that the term “evolution” is also applicable for human’s mind. The electricity in the form of the light bulb is found by Edison in 1879, and then follow by Z1 computer 1938, and then followed rapidly by other invention like PC and Microsoft in 1975, followed with all the fancy gadgets and all just within the last 25 years.
    My point is the “evolution” seems to get speed up more and more, and happened in every aspect of human life.
    My question is now related to the topic which you just wrote above: “Can this also consider as a kind of speed up evolution?”

    Thank you and best regards,

  28. Anand Krishna Says:

    I am thankful to all of you for yoru overwhelming response.

    Pak Asyikin, i agree with you 100% about the evolution. Yes, and as we “do not reject electric bulb” or “Edison’s Discovery” just because we are using much more advanced gadgets, so too in the evolutionary process we do not reject the steps that have led us to this point today.

    The old/past is the foundation upon which we build our present.

    Back in the 1960s we had this debate among our scholars, notably Alisyahbana, Pane and others. The debate was later documented by Achdiat K Miharja, who i had the opportunity to meet and discuss a few things before his demise (our discussion was later published under the title “3 Generasi – 1 Visi).

    Thank you very much Pak Asyikin for commenting on this, i am blessed. Salam

  29. Harjadi K. Says:

    I always waiting for your article. This article remind me to appreciate the old. Architecture study teach us design with consider old building character/identity and environment,that considerations create continuity and harmony. Post Modern Architecture use new form for the old value.
    Seemingly, almost every aspect of life must consider the old.

  30. Harny Says:

    it seems that it is already one of our habbit as Indonesian people that we like discarding the old.
    it is a pity actually however it still happens again and again.

    Thank you pak Anand for this reminding & inspiring article.

    Two thumbs up for The Bali Times….

  31. Devi. J Says:

    No wonder, this nation doesn’t have any sense of belonging for the own country it self… Cause we buried also..all the attachment feeling to the root it self…the history….the where we comes from….
    Thank You for this inspiring Article Sir…. Hopefully we can appreciate our treasury….always

  32. Janfrional Says:

    Sometimes I envy a British or a Japanese for having such a firm pride on their age-old heritages. They preserve their good values. We are yet not confident to stand still upon our great past legacies. We are not aware that our past is the only foundation for the future. We need to learn more about the art of polishing “the good old times”. Thank you Sir.

  33. Lili Says:

    Abraham Lincoln said “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves”. Change “America” with “Indonesia”, that’s what may happen!