Thailand is a land of compromise.
The current government might not be but the Thai people are.
Because we are so compromising, we haven’t really gone to any extremes.
Our worst moments are never as bad as they can be and our best moments have never led to any profound change.
In a way, it is a blessing and a curse.
It is a blessing because it allows us to shrug a shoulder, compromise and live with each other after a crisis settles.
Somehow, we allow ourselves to accept that ‘some people died’ during the 2010 red shirt massacre and move on from it almost immediately.
It is the same reason there has been no lengthy investigation into all the missing people after the events of Black May. Rather we shrugged our shoulders, accepted that sometimes things happened, and went back to smiling.
A land of compromise indeed.
But it is also a curse.
It is a curse because we never become extreme enough or mad enough to push through changes that are sorely needed to modernize the country.
The popular uprising of 1973 could have led to wholesale revolution but it didn’t and the military were allowed to creep back in.
The 1932 revolution replaced one monarch with power and gave us a litany of military dictators.
But the signs are there that this compromising characteristic is changing.
The student-protesters of today seem more steadfast in their demands. Their war cry is ‘let this end in our generation’ and one would be hard pressed to not believe them when they say they will either bring about change or die (wholesale) trying.
Their demands are also uncharacteristically (for Thailand) uncompromising.
Many people have tried to talk to the leadership of the student protesters and ask them to tone down their demands upon the monarchy to cast a wider net, bring it more support, and take down the military dictatorship.
The overwhelming response from all the student groups has been a polite “no!”
The students say they will no longer compromise on their ideals because they’re fighting for their future, one where they wish to live in freedom and liberty.
They say that the only way to do that is to reform the royal institution because it is so often used as an excuse by the military to take power.
There is no way to know if the course they are charting is right. It will be for the historians of tomorrow to decide.
But what is clear is that Thailand’s days as a land of compromise are changing, for better or for worse.