What I Think
I've been on this planet for nearly 50 years now and I know I don't know everything, but I certainly have an opinion on most things. (the amicable disease of the aging). First off as an aside; I have come to detest the constricted North American lifestyle, and coming from a Canadian; that's saying a lot. It started when I was 14 and my father was posted to a Canadian Armed Forces Base in Germany for 3 years. I had a taste of freedom I was not able to duplicate until my first trip to LOS a year ago. I've always flown a little under the radar all my life. Not a total outlaw, but outside the "system" as much as possible. It seems to me that "living" in Canada is no longer about actually living, but more about finding one's way through the maze of everyday existence. I spend far too much of my time trying to keep the wheels on my vehicle of life in a straight line so as not to be penalized, exorbitantly I might add; so that I can enjoy small nuggets of life as it were.
Over the years I've spent some time in the company of our Native Aboriginal Indians; on the white man's turf, (theirs really); and their undisputed turf. To say that the similarities with the Thais are numerous is flirting with understatement. So many social values are similar.
The NAIs, as I'll call them, share their wealth amongst themselves regardless of uncle Harry's laziness or the unequal wealth of aunt Harriet's family, (yes the rich are allowed to stay rich and the poor poor even though everyone shares; sound familiar?), the children are brought up by any combination of parents, grandparents, relatives, friends, you name it. Family units usually live under the same roof and the elderly are held in high esteem. Their knowledge and wisdom passed from generation to generation. They are benevolent, carefree, work when you have to but enjoy life to the fullest. They joke and smile a lot, but they also have the capacity for extreme violence guided by a sense of righteousness; meaning, they don't get violent without just cause. (I've generalized to some degree here to get across the similarities I see between the Thais and the NAIs. There are the problems of drug and alcohol abuse and the domestic violence resulting from that, but without the introduction of these substances and the abuse leveled by us farangs, these problems wouldn't be there.)
It still blows me away to see the gentle smiling side of the Thais take a 180 in a Muay Thai boxing match, then see the two combatants sitting and sharing a drink after. I also see in the NAIs the capacity to get upset, resolve it to what ever degree, (I haven't figured out how that scale works and probably never will; nor can I figure out the scale for the Thais), and then get on with life. Mind you if the incident is of a serious enough nature, getting even is the only recourse; and again with a righteous vengeance. Their religion is based on Mother Nature and they believe strongly in a life beyond this world and do not fear death the way most farangs do. They also guide their lives primarily by common sense and even their tribal laws by and large are simple and common sense driven.
The NAIs, as do the Thais; look upon the farangs as a way to better themselves and their way of life. In the case of the NAIs, it differs greatly in respect to the abuse leveled on them by us farangs up until quite recently, causing a good bit of racial tension at times; but the bottom line still seems to be that our lifestyle is one that they want to emulate. Another scale I can't figure out. I suppose if they can exist like us but live like they do; bringing both worlds together, then maybe they're onto something. Yes, I believe both these cultures see us as an easy mark. We've been around them long enough for them to understand our guilt ridden religious weaknesses and to prey on these weaknesses for them is just another righteous endeavor. I'll bet they wonder when the f**k we'll smarten up, knowing in the backs of their minds we aren't.
In closing I'll say this about myself. I like the way the Thais and NAIs think. I'll never think like that myself but it's refreshing to be around a different angle of thought; but the part I really love and what will always bring me back to Thailand is the feeling of freedom and not having your day to day life turned into little fragments of enjoyment. Mai pen rai.