Words by Eddie Dobbins. Photo by Suki Zoe.

 

Can an American Diplomat save the world? Yes, if it is American Diplomat Stanley Harsha!

Stanley Harsha and I sat down to discuss his first published book, Like the Moon and the Sun.

Like the Moon and the Sun comes from an Indonesian proverb describing a “perfect match”. Stanley grew up in poverty in America and then moved in a career as a U.S. Diplomat; being based in Indonesia meant that he quickly adapted himself into a tightly woven culture.

I was captivated by his genuine desire to be of service to others, specifically with the intention of bridging relations between Indonesia and America, an intention that is the heart of his first book.

Stanley is more than a casual observer of Indonesian culture; he lives and breathes it with fresh eyes and an open heart. His hope of bridging two cultures together in promoting a dialogue of religion and peace is admirable in a time when religion is at the forefront of both American and Indonesian conflict.

How can we as Americans learn the gentleness of Islam, while embracing our individual culture and religious ideology?

The answer may lie in steps put in place by the current President of Indonesia, Jokowi, back in 2005, at the time when he was mayor of Solo. He formed an interfaith discussion group between Muslims and Christians, something Stanley witnessed firsthand.

Can dialogue bring two cultures together? Can we as Americans fully grasp an understanding of Islam, or will we always listen to the sound-bites of others? Can Indonesians be open to Judaism and other religions? Is multiculturalism possible? Is there opportunity for unity within diversity? All of these questions are pierced in Stanley’s story of culture, religion and politics – in comparing two countries with many similarities, with hope.

I asked Stanley in closing of our time together, “What is your passion?”

He replied, “I like to create and be in a world whose tolerance is measured by communication and love”.