Thailand is at a crossroads. We have come to that point in every nation’s history where the decisions of today have massive ramifications for tomorrow.
The United States came to that crossroads in 1776 when they decided to revolt against the British. The country again was at a crossroads in 1861 and the splitting of the union. Other countries have gone made major decisions that affected not the immediate circumstances that precipitated those decisions but the entire culture or soul of the nation. The French in 1789, the Russians in 1917, the Chinese in 1927, and many countless other dates for many great nations.
It is now our turn.
At stake will be who we are as a nation, not who we were, and what we want to aspire to. Centuries old superstition, entrenched governing structures, a destructive military culture, and an impasse between those that want rapid change and those that want to preserve what it is that they think makes Thailand special.
There is probably no right answer, or at least no one answer that will please everyone. For we are a country that is stuck between the rapid evolution of modernity – filled with unfamiliar and perhaps destructive ideas that have set the world aflame – and the trappings of the past which while familiar may need some updating.
What is clear and is become a universal truth among all Thais is that we can do better than the current government.
No matter where you stand on the political spectrum a consensus is brewing. Whether you’re a student protester calling for wholesale changes to the fabric of society or a steadfast conservative who maintains that both the regal and the religion are fundamental to what it means to be Thai, there is an acceptance that this government represents neither viewpoint.
The pandemic has accelerated this understanding. Increasingly we see our ministers for what they are – self serving tyrants. Their continued mismanagement of the current situation has cost hundreds of lives and will cost dozens more because they have been woefully unprepared and lack the talent or skill necessary to lead the country in times of crisis.
The generals, the drug dealers, the marijuana growers, the promise breakers that were put in government did so on a broken system drafted and put in place by men in army fatigues.
And now we have arrived at the crossroads and there are three choices which will determine what will become of Thailand.
We can stay our course, in our broken system, and get left behind by our neighbors. We will continue to muddle through, continue to see coup after coup, continue to be the average kid in the room who don’t quite have an identity or a direction.
Or we could give in to our most extreme impulses. Rebel against the crown, or destroy anyone who would oppose the royal system that has guided the country so well for the past three hundred years.
Or we could find some middle ground and understand that while our traditions are important there is also a need to update and modernize. That we have to cherish both our past and prepare for the future at the same time. And finally realize that the military serves no one but itself, that it is a self-sustaining system focused only on the status quo. Doing so would probably mean we have to start talking more and yelling less. It means standing up for what is right for all Thais and not just our own side.
The path is there, are we ready to take it?