All cultures and religions have prohibitions: Not eat these kinds of food; not do these things at these times, and so on. It used to be a requirement of membership. There was always some coercion involved. But it was more in the form of peer pressure, rather than outright coercion. Your behavior would be regulated by those within your own immediate community, rather than by distant authorities. You did not like the rules, you had to leave the community.
But it seems that the guardians of religion and custom are not content with educating people to be “good” as defined by their norms. They want coercive enforcement. Many cannot sympathize with the actions of organizations such as the Muttawain in Saudi Arabia who police clothing and behavior in public space; Or the actions of the government in Sri Lanka to equate women with children in relation to alcohol consumption.
But it’s getting worse. Now the guardians of custom want to shut down the Internet at times they believe should be spent on reflection and meditation.
Internet service providers in Bali will turn off mobile internet for 24 hours on March 17th to mark Nyepi, or New Year, on the Balinese calendar according to multiple media outlets. Authorities requested the companies switch off services for Nyepi, a Hindu holiday also known as the Day of Silence, which is a sacred day for reflection.
The shutdown isn’t total, though. Internet access will still be available at places like hotels, and security, aviation, and disaster agencies. Hospitals will still have connectivity as well. The Indonesian Internet Service Provider Association is still considering whether or not to also shut down home internet connections. The internet shutdown for Nyepi will be a first in the Indonesian island’s history, and it’s notable because Indonesia has one of the most prolific populations when it comes to internet use.
Isn’t it better that members of various communities of faith signify their commitment to the articles of faith voluntarily? The value of my commitment is that much stronger when I make a conscious choice, than when I am compelled.