The magical faith healing stone of young boy Ponari is big business for a small village in East Java.
A month ago Ponari was hit by lightning, according to his story. When he regained consciousness there was a stone on top of his head. He threw it away but the stone came back so he took it home. There he discovered the healing effects of the stone: a neighbour healed of fever after he had touched it, the village head got rid of a bad pain in his arm and the local police officer, a pious Muslim, swears he has seen with his own eyes how Ponari healed a boy who had not spoken a single word for five years.
The news about the miraculous healings spread quickly and people started to flood to the small village of Balongsari, a few hours drive from Surabaya. First dozens, then hundreds, and now there are thousands. They bring cups, bottles and buckets of water in which the boy wonder plunges his stone. This allegedly turns the water into a powerful panacea. Ponari is carried around by his father. He looks tired.
A party tent protects him against the sun. There are barriers of bamboo put down to control the crowd. This has already led to accidents: four people have been trampled to death and an unknown number got injured. And also the healing doesn’t work that well. A child of three died after his parents had given him wonder water instead of taking him to a doctor. The media are interviewing more and more people who have been drinking the miracle water but didn’t notice anything. Hamzah (53) says that his eyes are just as bad as before. Such information may not deter visitors. They keep on flooding to the village. …
Wishful thinking is a common and sometimes dangerous human mental blind spot.