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In Indonesia, Practicing Religious Tolerance One Dirty Floor At A Time

A group of young people of all religious backgrounds are living proof of religious tolerance, as they volunteer to clean Jakarta houses of worship, whether they be Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist or Christian.

Members of the berhati group cleaning up a Vihara in Jakarta.
Members of the berhati group cleaning up a Vihara in Jakarta.
Danu Mahardika

JAKARTA — Indonesia is often praised for its religious tolerance and diversity. But recent developments such as churches being banned and minority groups being attacked reveal a darker side of Indonesian society that a group of young people in Jakarta is trying to change.

At a Buddhist temple, or Vihara, in West Jakarta, monks are praying in front of the altar. In the corner is a giant statue of Buddha surrounded by red candles. A group of young people recently visited the area on a mission to clean up the temple.

The group is called "Berhati," an Indonesian acronym that translates as "cleaning up places of worship, cleaning your soul."

The group's leader, 23-year-old Agustinus Ardi Widiatmoko, says that the volunteers don't want anything in return. "We're not a social organization," he says. "We can't donate anything, but we want to clean the place. It's simple: We come, clean, then go home."

Vihara head Yusak Li Saputra was surprised when the group arrived. "We just gave them some snacks and drinks, and they immediately started working," he says. "Even if we hadn't given them anything, they would've done it. They said they were happy to be welcomed so warmly here. We don't have many cleaning staff, and all of them are women. They can't climb up high like these young people did."

But that's not what impressed Saputra the most. "Not all of them are Buddhist," he notes. "Some of them are Muslims. There's a mix of people. They have taught us to respect each other's place of worship, and they are not religious fanatics. They just came here and cleaned up."

The Berhati group also visits mosques, Hindu temples and churches such as the Cathedral, the oldest and largest Catholic Church in the capital.

Resti Nainggolan, a member of the church staff, still has the gift the group gave her after they cleaned the church. "They gave us some T-shirts with the Berhati logo on the front," she says. "I asked them, "Why are you giving us gifts like this? You've already cleaned the place? Then they said, "It's a gift, nothing more. No hidden agendas.""


Photo: Berhati

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Hide-And-Seek Of Drone Warfare, A Letter From Ukraine's Front Line

A member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces writes his account of the new dynamic of targeting, and being targeted by, the invading Russian troops, as drones circle above and trenches get left behind.

A Ukrainian military drone operator during a testing of anti-drone rifle in Kyiv.

Igor Lutsenko*

KYIV — The current war in Ukraine is a game of hide-and-seek. Both sides are very well-stocked with artillery, enough to destroy the enemy along many kilometers. Swarms of drones fly through the air day and night, keeping a close eye on the earth's surface below. If they notice something interesting, it immediately becomes a target. Depending on the priority, they put it in line for destruction by artillery.

Therefore, the only effective way to survive is to hide, or at least somehow prove to the drones your non-priority status — and avoid moving to the front of the 'queue of death.'

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In general, the nature of this queue is a particular thing. It may seem to be a god, but is instead a simple artillery captain's decision of when to have lunch, and when to fire on the house where several enemy soldiers are staying. It's just a handful of ordinary people (observers, artillerymen) deciding how long their enemies will live depending on their own schedule or the weather, the availability of ammunition or if they're feeling tired.

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