Readers' Submissions

What Is The Truth?

  • Written by Phil Ross
  • October 11th, 2004
  • 3 min read

I read an excellent reader submission titled “Thai Lies and Wondering Why” posted recently on 7/10 and it prompted me to write the following submission. That particular submission explored the reasons Thai people have difficulty being honest and telling the truth. I might add that the submission included some excellent examples of dishonest Thais in action which I particularly identified with.

Like the author of that submission, I take the position that neither the Farang way nor the Thai way of communication are superior, but I also have to point out that I find it rather pointless engaging most Thai people in conversation or taking them seriously when I know that most of what is pouring out of their mouths is pure dribble and has very little to do with the truth.

It would be very easy to write a detailed submission on the inherent faults of Farang communication but that is not what I wish to write this submission about.

I will offer a point of view that I think is not Western but is universal across all cultures and societies. Communication between human beings should not just be about getting along and minimizing confrontation:

Communication between human beings should be meaningful, relevant and productive. If truth, honesty and integrity are not pillar stones in the foundation of the communication then the communication is little more than pointless and a waste of time and effort.

If a conversation bears little basis in truth then it is merely superficial, hollow and meaningless. A society which engages in such shallow communication may be less confrontational and intimidating but at the same time the society is not truly reaching a deep level of communication and understanding between its individuals. Communication between individuals of such a superficial society is merely to pass the time of day and to make each other feel good. It is not about developing understanding and advancing knowledge between one another.

I believe to have a fulfilled life human beings must aim for a greater understanding between one another through communication based on truth, honesty and integrity.

I thoroughly enjoy my holidays in Thailand but I don’t think that I learn a great deal about Thai people through conversing with them and that is not because I am Farang. It is because Thai people never tell anybody (Farang or another Thai) what they really want or what they are really thinking or what their honest opinion of something is. I learn more about Thais from what they don’t tell me rather than what they do tell me.

From my Western perspective I think Thai people have a truly bizarre way of interacting with one another and communication between Thai people is never more than superficial. I think Thai people learn to be very good at interpreting bullshit from one another and comprehending its true meaning but at the same time I suspect Thai people never truly get to know one another very well and I also suspect that they have very little desire to actually learn about one another. I think Thai people are actually quite comfortable interacting in a superficial world based on half-truths, lies and bullshit.

There are many things about Thai culture and society that I admire and respect but I have a very little regard for Thai people's communication skills, ability to tell the truth and personal integrity.

Stickman's thoughts:

I have found that once you get to know the Thais, they open up to you a lot more, but people you don't really know or never really get to know do seem to put on bit of a front with how they want you to see them.