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A nation without a future

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"It moves forward because of you."

Those were the words of United States President Barack Obama in his victory speech on Wednesday, referring to the path of the American union as determined by the American people.

But Mr President, I live in a country that refuses to move forward.

"Whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your choice heard."

President Obama let the American people know that the country must move forward together, regardless of individual political affiliation.

But Mr President, I live in a country where individual members, supporters and sympathisers of the two sides of the political divide would prefer not to move at all. They would prefer to move sideways, or even move backwards, ruled by fear, hatred and anger, rather than work together to move forward.

"I will sit down with Romney and work together to move this country forward."

But Mr President, I live in a country where when opposing leaders of the different political factions sit together it is to divide the cake, not to move the country forward.

"Around the world, people fight for their lives for a chance to argue, a chance to cast ballots."

But Mr President, I live in a country where people fight, not to argue, but to shut the other side up, while the ballots are so easily sold, and often cast through fear, hatred and anger.

"To lead a nation toward greatness."

But Mr President, the leaders of my country only want to lead themselves, their families and their allies and cronies toward greatness, but never the nation.

"We are an American family."

But Mr President, I live in a country of the red family and the yellow family, where is the Thai family?

Sitting at the office, watching President Obama's victory speech was one of the sadder times in my life. This is because the points he was making were so completely opposite from the values and actions of political leaders, followers and sympathisers in the Kingdom of Thailand.

Notice I am not blaming just the leaders, but also the people. After all, we choose them by casting tour ballot, which we at times sold, or at times cast through fear, hatred and anger, rather than the belief in moving forward, rather than the want to achieve greatness for the nation.

When President Obama said that the US is the greatest country on earth, no doubt many non-Americans were a bit miffed. But it is not just President Obama; these are the words most Americans chant and sincerely believe in.

It is arrogance, but it is not necessarily a bad thing to believe in greatness and to strive towards achieving such greatness. I have this perspective because I live in a country where political leaders speak so easily of greatness, but the reality is of a peasant, agricultural nation stuck in a political divide – where policies are shaped by money and power and where perceptions are shaped through fear, hatred and anger – rather than the belief in national greatness.

When President Obama said he wants to achieve greater things for America, I believe in his sincerity. Whether he can achieve them or not is another issue. On the contrary, when a Thai political leader speaks such words for Thailand, my first, second, third and all the subsequent reactions are the same, "Stop lying."

Both President Obama and the US have virtues and flaws, many successes and failings. But this is a country that comes together because of the promise of the future, the vision of greatness, with the slogan of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

Thailand meanwhile also has virtues and flaws, though few successes and too many failings, with no single modern political leader worth singling out. This is a country that is bound together by the glory of the past, which isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it is rather a good thing. However, where is the promise of the future?

There is no promise and this is the greatest failing.

We have the Democrat and Pheu Thai parties. We have the traditional elite and the merchant elite. Both sides have their hardcore members, secret supporters and casual sympathisers.

But who has the promise of the future? Who has the vision of the future? Three years from now. Five years from now. Ten years from now.

A nation that can achieve greatness is a nation that can envision and promise the future. A nation that can only achieve mediocrity is a nation that is afraid to even think, let alone talk about the future, with only the past to cling to.

A nation that cannot see the future is then a nation stuck with squabbling leaders enriching themselves, their families and their allies and cronies with power and money, a nation where the people can see only uncertainty and know only to respond with fear, anger and hatred.

"200 years ago a colony won the right to determine its own destiny."

But Mr President, how can Thailand determine its own destiny when everyone refuses to speak of the future?

"The best is yet to come."

But Mr President, Thailand is a country living in fear that the worst has yet to come, while doing nothing to prepare for it, hoping that luck, praying that faith, will see us through.


Another great article by one of my favorite columnists, K. Voranai.

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Well, Thailand can keep a status quo and be like this. I'm pretty sure most Thais can live with it.

I think it's difficult. Voranai spent some time living in the US so he knows the difference. If you only know one system or one form of government, you don't even know what the differences are.

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Yeah, right.

When one believes in the rhetoric of politicians, anything is possible.

There is no 5, 10 or 50 year future where politicians are concerned. That kind of stuff is left to the lunatic fringe. Occasionally a nugget might pop up which strikes a cord with the masses and the politicians riskily have to include it to seem connected, but nothing further than 4 or 5 years ahead has no meaning today.

Not that it matters. The US is f**ked up and anyone who sees them and their leaders as something to model themselves on deserves to carry the weight of worry.


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