Three Days of Learning to Write Popular Essays on Tolerance and Freedom

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The existence of social media brings new challenges for tolerance and diversity. Various views are so easily and freely produced and accessed on social media. It is easy to find narratives containing anti-freedom, intolerance, and anti-diversity ideas, even those containing descriptions of religious extremism. Those who do not respect individual freedom are anti-religious and have views that threaten the nation's integration. Those people make social media a wide field to spread their beliefs.

On the other hand, social media is an opportunity for parties that have an interest and spirit of voluntarism in spreading the ideas of civil liberties, diversity and diversity, and countering narratives that are anti-individual freedom, intolerant and anti-religious. Social media, like Facebook, is an opportunity for them to spread their ideas and ideas. This condition is possible because Facebook users as of March 2021 were 175.3 million people.

In other words, efforts to spread narratives through writing in the context of supporting civil liberties, diversity and diversity on social media need to be done. For this reason, those who have the spirit of spreading the ideas of civil liberties, tolerance and diversity need to be equipped with mastery of the basic views of tolerance and freedom, the ability to make good and interesting writings (popular essays)  and have a good understanding of how to write they are widespread and can influence readers.

Based on this background, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) Indonesia and INDEKS  held a Popular Essay Writing Training: Tolerance and Freedom on Thursday-Saturday, 19-21 August 2021. The activity that was held through the Zoom application was attended by 19 selected participants from 35 who signed up by submitting popular sample essays on tolerance and freedom.

For three days from 09.00 to 17.00 WIB, the participants studied with trainer Luthfi Assyaukanie (Founder of Qureta and lecturer at Paramadina University) and two facilitators from the INDEX Institute, Nanang Sunandar and Sukron Hadi.

In general, the participants learned three training themes. First (on the day I), learn the basic views of tolerance and freedom. The second (on day II) conveyed the theory of writing popular essays and campaigning for freedom and tolerance through writing on social media. While on the third day (third day), Luthfi gave practice materials for writing popular essays that were good and correct and reviewed those assigned by two facilitators (Nanang Sunandar and Sukron Hadi) on the second day.

On the first day, all participants were invited by Sukron Hadi to introduce themselves, convey their motivation for joining this activity and give their views on why writing is important.

After the introductory session, Nanang Sunandar invited the participants to discuss the concept of fundamental freedom. Nanang introduced the concept of freedom in the context of diversity. He introduced the concept of freedom from a theoretical point of view or human rights.

After the lunch break, the participants were further invited by Luthfi Assyaukanie to recognize the concepts of freedom and tolerance comprehensively. He explores tolerance from the point of view of History.

“The idea of ​​'tolerance' emerged in the modern era, especially after the religious Reform movement in Europe. The scholars did not specifically discuss tolerance in the pre-modern era. Tolerance practices are limited. John Locke was the first philosopher to tackle the issue of tolerance in a special paper.” Lutfi explained.

Lutfi continued, after World War II, tolerance became part of the issue of freedom. In 1947, the United Nations declared Human Rights, known as the "holy book" of the modern world. Luthfi said the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a guide for modern humans on issues of tolerance and freedom.

On this occasion, Luthfi invited the participants to discuss whether we can tolerate intolerant actions. He conveys Karl Popper, Rawls, and other philosophers' views on this issue.

In the last session on the second day, Sukron presented Data and Facts in Writing. Sukron emphasized that although essays are different from academic scientific writings, data and facts need to be presented by writers to build arguments in their essays to make them stronger.

Sukron also encouraged participants to practice building arguments with data and facts to strengthen claims or opinions regarding the conditions of tolerance in Indonesia. Sukron encouraged participants to obtain data on freedom of religion or tolerance from credible sources, such as the Wahid Foundation, SETARA Institute and other institutions.

After being encouraged by Sukron to share the important points obtained on the first day, the participants in the morning session on the second day returned to study with Luthfi. In the morning and afternoon sessions, Luthfi conveyed the importance of campaigning ideas through interesting writings to target social media users, especially in campaigning on the idea of ​​tolerance. Besides being written interestingly, Luthfi encouraged the participants to strengthen their written arguments with facts and data.

According to Luthfi, essays are short non-fiction writings intended to convey a certain message. Essays should be written interestingly and incorporate facts, data and opinions.

Luthfi also points out the mistakes. By doing this, Luthfi hopes that the participants can learn about things to avoid when writing essays. In addition, Luthfi also provided encouragement and tips to the participants to publish their writings in print or online media.

The two sessions brought by Luthfi on the second day were the basis for writing which served as a guide for the participants to practice writing. In the last session on the second day, Sukron and Nanang asked the participants to practice writing essays based on the writing theory that Luthfi had conveyed.

Nineteen participants also practiced writing essays. Either make a new essay or improve the essay they send to register for training. Writing exercises continue outside the activity or at the homes of each participant. They had to submit their essays before the third day of activities began.

On the third day, Luthfi reviewed the participants' essays one by one from the previous day's practice. Each participant's essay has the opportunity to be notified of their mistakes, corrected, and given input. Both in the title, opening paragraph to the content of the essay. Luthfi also asked Nanang and Sukron to provide feedback on the reviewed essays.

The three-day training activity was closed with a follow-up plan session. In this session, all participants committed to practicing what they got from the training. In addition, they agreed to form a writing community that aims to campaign the ideas of freedom and tolerance for a more peaceful Indonesia through writing. They named their community The Movement for Tolerance and Freedom (GERTAS).