Readers' Submissions

Facing The Truth



Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok

Harry Lime (topic for another post entirely) raises an interesting point that will most likely be dismissed by the majority of Stickman readers who would prefer to continue nurturing the delusion that participation in the Thai naughty life engenders no ill effects because “it’s consensual”, “it creates economic benefit for the women involved”, “Buddhism embraces a broader view of sexuality”, etc, etc.. Such facile arguments ignore the long-term emotional and psychological consequences of surrendering judgment to impulse time and again. What meaning can a man’s life attain when he’s reduced the value of another human being to a mere transaction for his own momentary escape from pain–from the truth of being human? It is impossible to imagine in that moment how the karma will play out, but over time, the painful truth of such behavior is revealed and ultimately endured.

In that regard, I am constantly reminded of the story of a close friend whose life can be traced back to the whoring ways of an American GI in Vietnam, and the split second decision made by a South Vietnamese woman to give up her true love, her country, and her first-born Vietnamese child for the illusory promise of a better life with a Westerner. It is the story of a very beautiful woman whose greed, or desperation, (perhaps both) leads her into prostitution—the hushed up secret that no one wants to admit among polite company in the whitewashed suburbs of America. There is no fairytale ending, but rather a chain of misfortune encompassing economic struggle, deception, cultural misunderstanding, and sexual abuse. It is the sad story of a man so consumed by his lust that he repeatedly cheats on his Vietnamese wife, and even sexually abuses his two daughters. It is the tragedy of a woman caught in such deep denial that her soul hardens into stone and she unleashes her fury on her two innocent children. It is the profoundly disturbing story of two brilliant young girls who grow into gorgeous women unable to trust the intentions of a man. It is a chain of karma and samsara unimaginable on a hot, humid night in Saigon more than 40 years ago when money was casually exchanged for sex.

Reading submissions to this site, I am struck by the mix of ego, isolation, selfishness, and general lack of self awareness that seems to characterize this motley group of self-titled authors. Do you not see how your inability to face the truth about human existence–that life is suffering, that death is unavoidable, that fear of death breeds violence, and that love is the only true antidote to fear–compels you to flee your emotions and drug yourself with a sexual high? Unlike Mr. Lime, I would not suggest that marriage is the simple solution, (that strikes me as utterly moralistic, and genuinely naïve) but rather that emotional intimacy is what every human seeks, and that such intimacy is only possible in the context of a healthy relationship grounded in mutual respect, honesty, compassion, and open communication. Under such circumstances, sexual relations become the ineffable physical expression of that intimacy. But creating such a relationship requires a good dose of skill, wisdom, and above all patience, an attribute sorely lacking in a world where we’ve come to expect answers at Google speed. Moreover, neither a marriage certificate, nor a literal interpretation of the Bible guarantees such a healthy relationship, as the former is often taken as license for complacency, and the latter tends to engender blind adherence to doctrine instead of reliance on self-generated discernment.

I have deep compassion for the men flocking to Thailand in search of solace and release, most of whom have no idea how to create true intimacy with a woman (Western or Asian), and thus are easily seduced by a clever facsimile presented to them in the form of a pliable, smiling bar girl. (Something leads me to think Mr. Lime has been a patron of such arts in the past, as it is always reformed sinners who become the greatest evangelists.) But I do not condone their behavior because of the consequences bred by such casual regard for the act of sexual intimacy–the extraordinary conduit to life itself–and thus the inherent brutality (toward self and other) of their actions. The sex trade is a worldwide scourge that vitiates the souls of men and women alike. In Thailand it has mushroomed into a globally driven industry that is slowly unraveling the social structure of this once pristine kingdom of Buddhists.

By now I imagine a fair number of the Stickman faithful are bristling in defense of their lifestyle choices, including men who’ve chosen the route of marriage suggested by Mr. Lime. Let’s face it—the lure of easy sex as a palliative for life's deeper challenges (paid for in a dark bar along one of the Sois of Bangkok, Pattaya, or Phuket, or otherwise obtained via sin sot after a hasty internet romance and a cheap marriage certificate) impelled each and every one of them to Thailand, and thus the cycle of samsara is bound to continue.


Stickman's thoughts:

That's a familiar writing style….