When I write these entries, I also post a link to them on my Facebook account because I have many friends who don’t regularly read my blog. (As opposed to the many regular readers of this blog who have become friends.) On Saturday I wrote an entry about this little boy, pictured right, playing on a sidewalk while his father operated very loud construction equipment nearby.
I wrote that two of the questions crossing my mind were why the boy was sitting there and why nobody had any hearing protection on. I didn’t rail against the injustices of the situation, demand that Thailand change, or harumph about how superior things are in the west. I simply wrote that those were questions that crossed my mind.
You can perhaps imagine my surprise when I received the following comment on Facebook from a former Thai language classmate of mine, a European man with whom I studied around December 2005:
“How long have you been living in Thailand? I am amazed that you are still thinking like a novice farang. Let Thailand be Thai.”
I’m not sure what qualifies my thinking as that of “a novice farang” nor what I did to suggest that Thailand shouldn’t be Thai. Was I being culturally insensitive to suggest that the loud noise could cause hearing damage to the young child and his father? Was I being too “western” to wonder why they didn’t have any hearing protection on?
It seems to me that concern over the wellbeing of people, especially children, is a pretty universal value and not one that I should grow out of the longer I live here. Maybe there is another stage of thinking after novice farang: “jaded expat”. The jaded expat sees the lives and wellbeing of the locals as disposable commodities since he won’t be living here in five, ten, twenty years to deal with the long-term effects.
What are your thoughts?