I have waited long with this post but finally I found the time to finish it. Two of my favorite things combined. The monday night CBS TV Show ‘How I Met Your Mother’ (granted it was way better when it started a few years ago) and, the country I live in right now, Thailand (guess that’s why you’re here).
The question at hand: What does Thailand have in common with a CBS TV Show? To answer that I have to take you on a short ride with two of the main characters of How I Met Your Mother. Ted & Marshall.
Ted & Marshall became best friends from the moment they moved in together in college. The shared rooms ever since and are, by the age of almost 30, still room-mates and remain best friends even after Marshall moves in together with his wife Lilly. During their room-mate time and despite the fact that they’ve been best friends forever (even though Barney claims to be their best friend) they, of course, came across some bumps, difficult decisions and so on. Whenever a difficult decision was on the table both of them had a unique way of dealing with it: If it was something that would benefit you now and maybe harm you later let so called ‘Future Ted’ and ‘Future Marshall’ deal with it. Kind of ‘don’t spoil the current fun by thinking to much about the future’. Of course ‘Future Ted’ and ‘Future Marshall’ very often then happened to hate ‘Past Ted’ and ‘Past Marshall’ since thinking ahead isn’t always a bad idea.
And that’s exactly where How I Met Your Mother meets Thailand. Thailand seems to almost only consists of ‘Future Teds’ and ‘Future Marshalls’. Only very few people care and think about the future and what their current behavior might cause in the (even near) future. Examples can be, unfortunately, found everywhere in all points and aspects of life.
Let’s take a look at a typical public place in Thailand. No matter if it’s a park, a public space in front of a shopping mall or even the sport or canteen area in our college. It’s everywhere the same. People meet, have a nice time together (until here it’s good), eat and drink (still good) and then, when they are finished they leave without cleaning up their mess (not good anymore). If you take a look at a place where Thai people met after they left, it’s quite likely that you see something that resembles a war field instead of a public meeting space. Rubbish all over the place. And not only ‘a little bit’ of it, I mean it’s all over the place. Everywhere. Always. Nobody gives a damn about the future (in this case: the day, heck, even the hour after) and simply thinks ‘somebody will take care of it because every time I come back, the rubbish is gone’.
Another example: Driving. I have spent quite a while in different countries all across this planet and have never seen so many bad drivers in one place. In Europe we learn that we have to drive foresightful / far-sighted. That’s the main purpose of driving schools. Learning how to watch the traffic around you and how to see and understand what other traffic participants are doing in order to avoid critical situations and accidents. In Thailand it’s more like: Get in the car, start driving, send a prayer to buddha and hope for the best. Once again nobody cares about others or the future (in this case the accident ahead). Everybody is just looking at his very own advantage at this very time without thinking about the possible affect of being a traffic ass to others.
Those are only two examples that happen every single day. There are, of course, many more and it’s sad to see that a country that has to offer so much gets dumped and held down by it’s own people. Sure, there are many people who understand the importance of thinking about the future and thinking at all. But it is, unfortunately, still the minority here in Thailand and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon.
The Future Thais
Thailand needs to understand that, in order to preserve the future, they have to give up on some ‘easy’ and extremely convenient ways of living (like getting a plastic bag for every single chocolate bar they buy at 7-11). Unfortunately, as soon as people here hear ‘you have to give up on something’ they switch into the ‘ignore mode’ and don’t listen anymore since everybody is already convinced that he/she gives up on many things all the time (I say ‘convinced’ because it’s quite often their own decision. Obvious ‘suffering’ is supposed to make yourself look good among your social circles – more in another post) and therefore is not willing to give up on anything else. Thailand, unfortunately, only works with threats and pressure. If the government says something and threatens the people with consequences, they will do what is necessary to avoid them. Not because they understand, because they are afraid and they always go the easy way.
This has to change, Thailand. Ask future Ted and future Marshall.