|  June 26, 2009

For millennia, man has mulled over the greatest issues of our times. Whether it be the formation of the perfect form of governance, the cohabitation of state and religion, the strategies of warfare, colonisation and imperialism, the rights of the individual, and in more recent years, environmental preservation and rejuvenation, religious fanaticism, health and pandemics…the list seems never ending. Now, with the global recession, it is as though the acknowledgement of finite resources and funds has accelerated the sense of urgency and shed a spotlight on the necessity to rethink, to change. Issues which were put off with a lacklustre manana attitude are forcing themselves into the spotlight – water resources, climate change, migration. It is overwhelming, when lining these issues up, to attempt to prioritise them.

On a much smaller scale, and as can be seen in the hundreds of articles featured in Citylife over the years, in Chiang Mai we also have our very own issues. Some are of a heartbreaking nature such as child sexual abuse and the treatment of ethnic minorities, while others – noise pollution or public transportation – appear relatively innocuous in comparison. Often, after featuring a story on, say, the over population and degradation of Doi Suthep, we receive letters from readers asking us to follow up on the story, to continue to expose, and act as a watch dog to these issues. We are asked to take the cause off the page, so to speak, to take action. Sadly, we are unable to do this with most issues, as there is always another important matter round the corner to write about. And sometimes, when something touches us, when we feel we can, we step up and do something about it – Citylife’s carbon neutral initiative, our various fundraisers and sponsorships.

Sometimes I hear people grumbling about calls for donations for free animal clinics, or for the restoration of a temple, “there are more important issues out there,” I hear, “you can save a child’s life with that money.” And of course they are right. But that is what is so wonderful about the world. As individuals, we care individually.

When matters are of really great concern, we come together with collective compassion. However, should we put our collective passions into one basket, what of the myriad other issues out there? It is of the utmost importance that while there are those fighting for the equality of women, for the support of the poor, for accountability in government or for the preservation of culture and heritage, there are also those who make sure that one rare species of butterfly survives, that ten street children learn to write, or a single elephant’s life is saved.

As for us, over the past eighteen years, we have done our best to bring attention to such issues and causes. We reveal unknown dangers, we draw attention to new issues, we interview remarkably philanthropic individuals and we share the experiences of those who have benefited from such largess.

To celebrate our 18th birthday, Citylife this month is titled the Issues Issue. One reader contacted us last month asking us to look into a plastic factory in his neighbourhood which was emitting toxins, what we discovered is harrowing, and will be passed on to the national press. After receiving an email from another reader, we report on how he raised money for an orphanage we had written about many years ago. We heard of the Pack Squadron army camp’s incredible programme to teach autistic children how to ride, we explore the hypocrisy of gender bias, and tackle the current hot issue of counterfeit goods. On a lighter note, I interview gentleman-about-town, Dr. Howard C. Graves Jr., a familiar face in Chiang Mai, who shares with us his life story.

While Citylife often frolics in frivolity, on our 18th birthday, as a sign of our maturity, we have dedicated this issue to just some of the issues dear to you and to us. I do hope that you enjoy our magazine this month.

Citylife also bids a fond farewell to Jessica Mauer who is returning to Canada, we are sure she will be back soon – thanks Jess.

Keep dry in July, it’s going to get wet!