Thailand with a Purpose?
The reasons why I continue to read the articles found on Stickman have always been rather puzzling. I read many of the stories, probably because it is one of the only sources of news from Thailand by foreigners, but I have to say that most of these reading sessions are full of quizzical looks, head scratching and even disgust at times. I never thought I would write an article; after all, it seemed rather impolite and judgmental to write an article judging the ethics of others, it’s like going on a website that talks about cars to say that trucks are better… but I thought I would give a try and hopefully the tone of the article will showcase the true simple inquisitive nature rather than the judgmental or even pretentious tone that it hopes to avoid.
Can it be more than just sex?
I definitely understand that the readers here do not represent all the expatriates in Thailand; those who do not share the same views probably moved on from this website long ago, but every time a new article pops up, where it is about a guy coming from abroad, going to bars, paying for women and generally ending up in a disappointment, I think to myself: “Well, that was bound to happen now, wasn't it?”
I was even stunned when a few articles mentioned that coming to Bangkok without genitalia is completely pointless. Now it is hard to continue on this subject without making assumptions here, but how any person’s life can be fruitful and worthwhile if the basic criteria for a place be that there has to be sex. I am not saying that everyone here should volunteer and give a basket of baby kittens (that’s what volunteers do, I think?) to struggling widows and orphans here, but really, is the bar scene an activity for you or is it part of a bigger life.
Brushing criticism off
I know that I am not the only who reads these articles and find his heart filled by pity rather than compassion and a few other people voiced their opinions, but what happens next baffles me a bit.
Obviously, it will depend on each individual’s persona, but most of the time this criticism or type of inquiries degenerates quickly. The criticism is brushed of as:
· Inexperience – You haven’t been here for more than X years.
· Retaliation – Oh! So you’re soooo much better then!
· Trivialized – Yeah, we see many self-righteous people like you, tsk, tsk tsk.
· Ostracized – Gee, another do-gooder trying to change the world….
Of course, I do not expect all rebuttals to be some major soul-searching, but I’d really be impressed by some honest-to-goodness rebuttal that started with “Maybe you are right” without being followed by sarcasm and irony. (Mr Stick, if you comment on this article, you’re barred from using the above four methods… it’s hum… the rule, I think.)
On the matter of the do-gooders
This matter is probably bigger than I can encapsulate, but to make the story short, let’s remove any religion out of the way: why are people who are volunteering, helping a charity, visiting slums or others automatically labeled in a negative light as: “those do-gooders…”
I’ll start off by agreeing that over the years, the most seasoned veterans must have surely seen more than their fair shares of typical young North-Americans or Europeans coming here with their newfound NGO in hope to revolutionize the world, full of the faith they have and ready to change the world just because “they really want it.” And yes… it’s probably worth rolling your eyes and saying “there goes another one…” but since when being full of hope, even through misguided expectations, worse than the person whose only sole interest is to get drunk and sleep with younger woman?
Now this isn’t solely found here, but the major answer I normally see is,
“You’re just doing it to look good?”
“There are more people in need in your home country!”
“What difference will it make? You’re not going to solve the whole thing!”
But really, isn’t the answers to these three questions in order:
“Even if a man builds a house to look good and find praise, isn’t the end result a house built?”
“It also has more people that do help.”
And lastly, let’s take something horrible: “If the person is able to take 5 measly underage teenagers out of prostitution, isn’t that good enough? Isn’t that at least 5 lives that will forever be changed?”
Back home, we always hear: “I’d rather give directly to the individual (my time, money, etc.) rather than to a charity, because I know where the money would go,” and it is a saying that is definitely true, but to this I would add: “so have you given to an individual?” and most of the time the answer will be negative.
The point I am trying to make here is that we always have an excuse for what we do, whether by justifying ourselves, by demonizing our detractors or by trivializing what we do.
The old man waiting for death
This could go on for quite a while, but since I am actually not confident with my writing skills on the matter, I would simply stop here and ask knowing that it may sound preachy: “What is your purpose in life?” Did you really just come here in Thailand for the younger girls than you, the prostitution, the bar girls, the sex and the endless cycle of bars. Is that it, now? Although movies seem to portray the cycle of sex -> alcohol -> TV, pretty well, won’t there be a time where you’ll be sitting on your balcony thinking: “Is that it? I’m just waiting to die?”
To end, I want to stress out that I am definitely not saying that the answer to everything and that everyone, myself included should run down to the nearest orphanage and volunteer our time, but just saying that yes Thailand has its fair share (or more) of detriments, listed way too many times here, but that perhaps, just perhaps, there’s a life beyond the young girls and bars in Thailand?