Turning the other cheek

What a busy few days.  Don’t know if you saw, but my last entry asking for everyone to support the “No on Proposition 8” campaign ended up as a featured entry on the front page of Xanga.  As of Sunday evening my time, there are 2600+ views.

The good news is that about 80% of the 150+ comments are supportive.  The bad news is that the 20% who don’t agree with my position are probably not going to be swayed.

I’ve made it a point to respond to all comments, even though trying to refute the same arguments is tiring.  The ones that are easier to refute are the ones based in legal precedent: for example, people who don’t like the “activist” judges who “overturned democracy” – forgetting that 3 of those 5 judges are Republicans, appointed by Republican governors.

The more difficult ones to refute are the “I don’t like gay marriage because my god says so” arguments.  If you are convinced that you are righteous, what can I say to change your mind.  I’ll just have to wait until their day of judgement when, standing on heaven’s doorstep, God asks them what part of Jesus’ teachings they didn’t understand.  Was it the “love your neighbor as yourself” part?  The “worry about the log in your own eye before you worry about the splinter in someone else’s eye” part?  Maybe the “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” teaching? 

Personally, I take great comfort in Matthew 5:11:

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”

Let’s move on to other news as I never intended for this blog to be a political sideshow.

 

New Car

No, we haven’t bought a new car.  But in a few years when our 11-year old Nissan Cefiro is ready for a replacement, I think I’ve found the perfect replacement.  It is cheaper than a Mini and a Mercedes Smart car, cuter than a Yaris, and fits in the narrow sois of Khrungthep without any problem.

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I’m thinking white is the better choice of colors, but red is pretty cute, too.

We have had a lot of guests in town this weekend.  Thankfully, we had time on Thursday evening to have dinner with PJ and Theresa.  This was the first time we had seen PJ in years and years and our first time to meet Theresa, which was wonderful.  Unfortunately, no pictures.

I think Biing is in town with his family, although have not heard from him yet.  Otto and Han are in town with their friends.  Coincidentally, we ran into them at the front of the Oriental Hotel last night when we jumped out of a taxi to attend a wedding.  An entry about that beautiful event soon.

Also, Paul (aka “Ekin” here on Xanga) is in town although we don’t expect to hear from him necessarily.  Who else?  Oh, the brother of Trish’s close friend and colleague is in town from Hong Kong, staying in his vacation home.  Maybe we’ll see him Tuesday night if time allows.

Crazy, huh?

I’ll write about the wedding tomorrow but want to share with you some pictures from the demolition of the block of shop houses at the corner of Ploenchit Road (different stretch of Sukhumvit) and Witthayu/Wireless Road.  They are taking a long time to demolish these buildings, dismantling them from the inside.

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In the picture above, you can see a low building with a metal roof in the midst of the empty lot.  That’s the “housing” for the workers, all of whom are from the countryside and many of whom are probably from Laos, Cambodia or Burma.  Seems to be the same story everywhere: immigrants from somewhere else come in to do the dirtiest, lowest-paying work.  Who does that work in their own countries?

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Above, you can see how the building is being taken down, story by story.  An arduous process to say the least!

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Interestingly, the buildings are brought down in separate sections.  The buildings to the left and right of this one are still being demolished, whereas this one is already completely gone.  I wonder why they do it this way?

 

28 thoughts on “Turning the other cheek

  1. I think your replies to some of the more hateful comments were incredibly mellow and well-mannered. :)That car is really cute, haha… As to the buildings – wow. So much different than here, where they just smash it down, implode it.. It makes me wonder why they do it that way as well.. I hope you have a good evening!~Marina

  2. I like the car. I have a Civic right now, it’s 9 years old, still runs well but doesn’t have the latest safety equipment (side air bags and curtains, traction control, stability control…) but it’s fun to drive and it’s paid for. I know my next car won’t be big, I won’t be able to get it into the parking spot in my building. Congrats on getting featured again!

  3. congrats on the featured Chris! I will definitely be voting no on 8. Coincidentally, I was speaking with my sister about this proposition the other day and incredulously, I find out that my sister is a Republican and will be voting yes on 8!!! I was flabbergasted to say the least. She’s my sister but we have very, very differing political views. :(At any rate, I will write an entry about that soon…And the car…too cute! :o) Red is definitely very spunky. 😀 Can’t wait to see wedding pics!

  4. Congrats on being featured — and thanks for putting yourself out there like that. 80%/20% is really encouraging actually … regarding that 20%, I think the same thing re: their day of judgment. No matter how folks try to justify a yes vote, inevitably it’s just the pot calling the kettle black.

  5. @yukinkoIcy – Thanks for your kind words.  I try to believe that constructive engagement is the best way to deal with people who have different views.  But every now and then I come to the realization that there is a percentage of the people whose eyes are just too clouded over.  I’m sure that same percentage feels that way about me, too.  =)
    As for the buildings, I have to think the only reason they do things that way is because it is cheaper to use the extra labor than to use explosives.  Strange, huh?

  6. @ElusiveWords – Thanks, Matt.  The Civic was the first and only new car I ever bought – a white 1994 coupe.  Great car.  Fun and comfortable to drive, super-reliable, fuel efficient.  And fits in tight parking spaces, too!

  7. @La_dolce_vida – Thanks.  Watch out, you’re going to have some competition in Xangalebrity land!  (as if anyone could compete with you…)  =)
    Amazing, isn’t it, when you find out that someone close to you holds beliefs completely contrary to your own.

  8. I LOVE the turn the other cheek portion of this entry. I ALWAYS think the same thing. They choose to judge others, meanwhile ignoring everything else the bible says. I completely agree.

  9. @christao408 – Very strange. and I agree, it does bother me when they are so convinced that they are right and I know they are wrong – knowing that they think the same way irks me quite a bit, I’ll admit. I’ve got no problem with admitting defeat when I know I lost, and I know I was wrong. But … grrr.. yeah.

  10. @neverforqetmex3 – Amen to that!  Selective reading of the bible.  Why aren’t they stoning people who commit adultery or wear cloth of mixed types?  They should be following the lead of the Taliban – now there are some real fundamentalists.  None of this “cherry picking” of what religious laws to follow.  (tongue firmly planted in my cheek of course)

  11. That is why I didn’t want to use the bible as my argument. While I think the word of the Bible is important, I felt we need to discuss this first and foremost in a logical matter. The bible, if anything, should be a crutch to our argument. I believe, just like CS Lewis, that faith can be logically defended. I must admit that those who came swinging bible verses at you as part of their argument failed to display the Christian call for compassion. Condemnation is never a good way to lead those who one may believe is on the wrong path onto the correct one.However, I must agree though that despite their wrong approach that if you read into the bible deeper Jesus argues for turning the other cheek but Jesus was never just some passive idealist. I know people like to choose and pick Jesus quotes to make him sound like a left-wing softie, but Christ had a sense of wrong and right, he wasn’t some universal moralist where everything was about perspective. While during his ministry he didn’t openly condemn same-sex relation (because during his time such behavior was unseen in public and understandably condemned by the society), he did clearly state definition of marriage several times, some of which was re-affirmed by Paul. And despite my disagreement with you Chris on this matter, I still maintain my respect for you. This will not decline because of your “lifestyle.” The question I have then, is that when you say you knew you were “born gay” how do we account for the fact that there are many gay people who late become gay (after being in a heterosexual relationship) or gay people becoming straight after religious conditioning or other factors? These things has always led me to believe that living as a homosexual isn’t a natural process, it is a choice. That’s my opinion, not my ignorance, feel free to respond. Cheers.

  12. @ansar_al_Eisa – My belief based on my own experience, the experience of many others I know, and what I’ve been able to learn on the subject, is as follows:
    1) Human sexuality is a spectrum and the definitions of “straight” and “gay” are artifically binary.  Many if not most people are at some point along the spectrum, not strictly at either end of it.
    2) Our sexual inclinations and attractions are primarily hard-wired, but our response to them and if/when/whether we acknowledge them is a matter of conditioning, upbringing and choice.
    3) I can specifically identify my earliest awareness of an attraction towards men (boys, actually, given my age at the time) to when I was in third grade.  That’s eight years old.  Given that I did not know of any people who identified as gay and the time period I was growing up in (mid-1970s) it is safe to say I was not influenced to be gay by the presence of gay people around me, gay images on TV, or pro-gay messages from any source.
    4) As I grew up, as I became aware of the social norms, the expectations of heterosexual behavior, and the anti-gay comments (including a particular joke my father brought home from work about a man who walks into a bar with his penis hanging out his pants – “what are you doing?” the barkeeper asks; “I’m trolling for fags” replies the man), I recognized the disconnect between the way I felt and what I was being told I should be. 
    I spent my secondary school years and the first few years of university trying to be what I was “supposed to”.  I dated several women and while they were nice people and we made out, etc. it never felt quite right.  In university I met a wonderful woman and was convinced – I actually said this to myself – that at last I had found the right woman.  Those anti-gay people were right after all: I just hadn’t found the right one.  She and I became very involved and I tried very hard to convince myself that this, this was what I was supposed to be.
    One day in the midst of the summer, she broke up with me.  And it was at that point that I finally recognized that I could not live any longer lying to myself and lying to others.  I refused to continue living like that.  I faced a choice: either kill myself or come to terms with who I am.  As someone brought up in a very religious family, I had the epiphany that God made me the way I am and that to deny his creation, to lie about it, was the gravest insult to his creation.
    Starting that day, I began the process of coming to terms with myself and, eventually, coming out of the closet.
    Because I have gone through this journey, because I have walked this path with absolute clarity of self-awareness, I can say for certain that my homosexuality is not a matter of choice.  It is a matter of who I am.  Whether that is genetics, another biological factor, or too much flouride in the water during my mother’s pregnancy, this is not a choice I made.  And I get really frustrated by people who have not been in this position, refuting my claim.  If you haven’t walked in my shoes, you cannot know how they feel.
    Which brings me to:
    5) The ex-gay movement.  Like a priest can choose to be celebate, someone who is at the gayer end of the spectrum of human sexuality can certainly choose to not act on his or her desires.  And people near the midde of the spectrum can choose to focus their energies in one direction.  But one does not erase what one is, simply by denying it. 
    Sure, someone who is gay may decide after enough brainwashing that he’s now straight and he can get married, have children, and be happy.  But there are way too many examples of people like that who end up hurting their spouse and children because, ultimately, they realize how unhappy they are, pretending to be something else.
    I know too many men who identify as gay but who are married and have children.  I know too many men who have had to pass as straight, too many who end up coming out to their children and spouses at age 40 or 50 or 60…  As the joke goes, “Tell you what, if you give us gay people marriage rights, we’ll stop marrying you straight people.”
    That’s my story.
    As for Jesus Christ having a sense of right and wrong, I agree.  I have no doubt he wasn’t a pinko liberal.  But I suspect he would say to all the gay-bashers out there, “This is between me, my Father, and this individual person who is gay.  Go back and worry about your own issues, of which you have plenty.” 

  13. @christao408 – Fair enough. I do wonder however, though it may be counter-factual, that had the “right woman” not had broken up with you for whatever reason, could it have been that you would have pursued the relationship further and thereby living a “straight” life. It is an assumption which cannot be overlooked. Thank you for your story. I do appreciate your candor in sharing your story. I must say, however, that I do not deny your experiences but I maintain that human sexuality is simply environmentally conditioned rather than a biological or genetic derivative. I agree with you, nevertheless, that we all fall on a spectrum. James Baldwin once wrote that we are all androgynous to a certain extent. I mean, I would say I admire guys with good physique and style but I would hardly call myself “Gay” nor am I in some state of denial. The question is why at age 8. People who claim they have always known assign some arbitrary number it seems to when they “discover” themselves. There is no pattern and it is apparently random. It is things like this which make be think that homosexuality is something which can be tamed and re-conditioned. I am not here to judge you, nor do I have the right. However, for educational purposes, it is curious to understand the nature of these things. It will eventually either solidify my own position as it were or possibly change my mind. Thanks for your responses Chris. Honestly. I believe a constructive dialogue aims to find the truth in the midst of ideas. Sorry for the bother. I do appreciate it, indeed. The ironic thing is I live here in the 415 where 1/4 of the city is gay and many of these things are taken for granted on both side of the aisle. Lastly, ultimately God is the judge but at the same time Christ has a calling to perpetuate the good news and further his kingdom. However we do this with love and not with swords. I guess, finally, you are right about not being in your shoe, but then again I wonder how much of the gay life-style is just a fashion and a fad and so forth…but I digress.Good day.

  14. @ansar_al_Eisa – Given my relative lack of taste and style – I think Lands End button down oxfords are the height of fashion – I can assure you that very little of my “gay lifestyle” is fashion.  =)
    Had I felt completely happy or in my own skin when I was with the “right woman”, then I could plausibly believe that I might have been able to live that life.  However, I always felt like an imposter in that relationship.  Whether she sensed that or broke off the relationship for another reason, she spared us both a lot of future pain.
    Have you watched Far From Heaven, the 2002 film by Todd Haynes with Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid?  Set in the 1950s, it portrays the struggles of a married couple as the husband faces his homosexual feelings, set against the backdrop of the racial strife of that era.  While it may not be your cup of tea (although is a visually beautiful film), it does a very good job of capturing that sense of being trapped in a relationship you know is a lie.  Worth watching just to understand that sense better.
    Regards,
    Chris

  15. The Fiat 500 is definitely a style icon. I’m sure Tawn can elaborate much more on that. Hope you guys buy the white one! The interiors are very eye-catching too. Much more mature and smooth than the quirkier Mini. I’m still not sure what car I’ll be getting either. I’m almost thinking I won’t buy anything until the economy becomes green once again. :o)

  16. Chris I hope that California will allow gay marriages. I am awed by your answer to ansar al Eisa. 
    I love the mini Fiat. Yeah I think white will be cooler color. It will probalby be a little too tiny to get your large frame in… but yeah it will be nice and cozy.

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