|  December 25, 2013

We all want something, whether it is a new iPhone or world peace. As wonderful-sounding as Buddha’s teachings on the cessation of desire are, I have yet to ever meet anyone who doesn’t have them. It is in our nature, and, I suppose, nurture. 

And no one likes not getting their way. It can hurt, insult and frustrate. But that is part of growing up in life. We learn how to manage the lack of realisation of our desires: nipples not presented in time for our morning milk, toys to be shared – gasp! – with others, classes not passed with flying colours, trophies and awards not won, universities not accepted into, jobs declined, monies not forthcoming, that damn lottery ticket invalidated, husbands going awry… Life, as wonderful as it can be, is a journey riddled with elusive desires. 

It is as important to fight for one’s wishes as it is to learn to manage their loss. 

Wars have been fought for ideals, murder committed for passions, illusions shattered by greed and families broken as the promises which brought them together in the first place. So, at what point is it worth fighting for what you want? When it is for the greater good? When it is something you truly believe in? If so, how much do you sacrifice to do so? Who knows what the greater good is? And, God forbid, what if you are wrong in your belief?

So, back to the current cauldron of desires: Thai politics.    

Everyone thinks they are right (or, in the case of those who are corrupt, that they have the right) and therefore everyone else must be wrong. When we are talking about millions of people on each side of the equation, and most likely many more millions standing in the shades in between, I think it is fairly obvious that there is no absolute, and even more obvious that the realisation of any desire is going to translate into great disappointment for many others’. 

Since it has been indubitably demonstrated that whatever resolution found is going to let many, many people down, clearly there is no win. Whatever empty, short-lived or false victory that arises is only going to anger masses of people, breed discontent…and, here we go, another round!

The only way out of this morass is compromise. Accept that there is no clearly defined right or wrong, that a win for yourself is a loss for another and that whatever you believe the solution for this country to be, it will never be realised as long as you insist on your very own version while ignoring those of others.

The poor have a voice, and it will never again be subdued – listen! The taxpaying middle class will not allow politicians to squander their money on policies aimed only at lining politicians’ pockets while they wait to win the next populist vote. A non-democratically appointed council is simply silly and bloody arrogant and not even worth wasting breath on. However much you love Thaksin, he will never be allowed back in power. These are realities. 

Once these (and many other) versions of Thailand’s future are discarded, then let’s sit down and talk. 

But egos need to be left at the door, aggressive rhetoric kicked out of negotiations, and any whiff of shady shenanigans publicised, named and shamed. We are talking a lot more than we ever have before, which is great. Now, perhaps it is time to listen.

And on that hopeful note, let’s all have a fantastic 2014. 

Citylife this month:

New Year’s resolutions typically involve health, so let’s read Hilary Cadigan’s look at alternative theories on health and see if we can do more than a week on our resolution for a change (or is it just me?). Hilary also interviews the creator of the hugely popular new exercise craze, AntiGravity Fitness, which has opened up a training centre right here in Chiang Mai. Freelancer James Monroe Adams III writes about the tough life of a hard working boxer, who is also a dwarf, I turn my Christmas shopping into an article by writing about all the wonderful shops around Baan Tawai, and intern Lindsey Rae Unger introduces you to the confusing phenomenon of Bitcoin. Oh, and have a laugh and a giggle at some of our staff’s roundup of the best and the worse of 2013…