He went on to imply that this is part of the socio-cultural fabric of Thai life and concluded that to truly understand Thais, you just need to get off the high moral ground. This at first outraged me. How dare he say that!
This isn’t just a Thai thing!
Still, I read on and he made a valid point. This is something very true.
It makes me ask why I have such a reaction. Perhaps, it’s because a farang said it and not me or another Thai. This makes it worse as it makes me a bigot! Why do we Thais find it hard to listen to criticism from outsiders? Or should I just say “I” here!
The point is “we Thais” find it hard to objectively look at ourselves, our culture or even our history in perspective. Why is that?
To be able have a perspective on thing means you must be able to stand back and objectively see what’s going on. This implies ability to listen without reacting to criticism as only then can we see things from all angle. Only then can we know what others think or see Thailand. Yet as a nation, collectively as Thais, we find it so hard to allow ourselves to do just that! Is it because we don’t have the luxury or is there something we are holding onto. If so how can we let go?
What’s holding us back?
As an individual, in private, we are not bound by anything; I even go to say we are quite hedonistic. We give ourselves freedom to do whatever we want to do but only in private, out of the public eyes! In public, a new code of conduct kicks in; we become mute and only allow the ruling elites to have their plays!
OK, this happens worldwide. The upper crust of society plays by different rules to the common people. But in Thailand, I feel the difference actually fuelled this culture of denial and makes us hide behind our public masks.
Being Farang actually said that having little moral stand makes him less tense and stress but is it really worth dropping social responsibility for the sake of a stress free, relax and hedonistic life? What about social responsibility? He has the luxury of adopting the so called culture of lies and denial because he comes from another type of society. He comes from a culture that taught him to gain perspective on things and to have a view! Most of us do not have that luxury.
Collectively, we often express no views. Collectively, we mostly choose to remain silent! This makes it very hard for an open discussion and even harder for outsiders to gauge our thoughts. So as Being Farang rightly noted, to learn how we really feel, it’s not enough to listen to our comments, he needed to read our body language too!
Why do we prefer not to cause a stir at a risk of offending or simply let people know our feelings just in case we hurt them or in case we might appear in bad light? Can’t we display what we feel in public?
We all know that some people are immoral; our society isn’t clean and pure. Everyday Thai media is full of immoral, indecent acts committed across all echelons of society. So why do we need to appear purer than pure, whiter than white.(But don’t let me start on the word white as that also makes me react to why all cosmetic manufacturers insist Thai women should be white!)
We are encouraged to live like a schizoid, having two distinct personas! We have a public front which generally follows the mass and appear to align ourselves with the status quo. But we also have a private life that is unconstraint. The point is we are encouraged to live in a culture that endorses double standards. So it’s hardly surprising that our politicians will when first question about something, deny at all cost, regardless of the evidence!
Right now, we Thais are living on the cusp of change. Politic has empowered many people who now dare to voice their opinions. Look at me here! We are learning that an individual can be equally powerful and have the same right. We are learning to appreciate the basic right of a democratically run country.
But if we still allow the ruling elite to only provide us with their own definition of right and wrong then when are we going to mature into a truly democratic country.
Still we Thais have not tasted real democracy that truly liberates our minds. Only then can we grow. Socrates did that many years ago to liberate the Greeks. We all learnt about this but when are we going to have courage to change.
This new found political voice will be wasted if we do not allowed ourselves the freedom to be self critical. Right now politicians have only confused us with their politicking and doing very little else to help the nation mature, leaving us the common people dazed and blinded by artificial loyalties and right back to the culture of denial.