We all fuck up. Go on, name someone who hasn’t. Life is full of pitfalls, temptations, complexities and misdirection. Navigating all this successfully and happily requires a whole mass of skills, experience, education, moral guidelines and frankly pure luck. It also requires fucking up. A lot.
I get it. Often we look back at our own youthful hubris and shake our heads and wonder how we even survived to such a ripe age. We look at the kids today and worry about them. In fact, I am constantly in shock, when seeing my friends’ young teenage children kissing their boyfriends, drinking alcohol, smoking a cigarette… pot. I look at them and I can’t believe that once I looked that young when doing those same things. But that is fine. That is normal. Generations become disconnected. What I don’t do is join the society of ‘no’, telling our youth that they must simply obey and listen. No dressing sexily, god forbid a man may want to rape you; no questioning authority, after all they have earned it through years of living; no deviation from the Thai ‘norm’, because then you are un-Thai.
The latest brainwave – which surely didn’t use that many grey cells – comes from the universities of Chiang Mai – all of them! They want to make universities and their surrounding areas alcohol free zones. These sanctimonious pillocks seem to have forgotten what it is like to be young. They are not going to stop alcohol consumption; they are probably not even going to make a dent to it. Going to university is about exploring life, learning from your mistakes, pushing yourself and, yes, doing really really stupid things. The great part of doing really really stupid things at university is that it is generally a safe place to do it. You have your peers, you have your environment and you have your support system. Hands up if you did really really stupid things at university (mine’s up). So, what will happen if students in dorms can’t bring a beer or two back to have a quiet drink over a guitar with a boy before snuggling into a snogging session? What will happen if there are no pubs nearby to walk home from late at night with your girlfriends? What will happen? All sorts of scary things, that’s what. Students will end up sleeping in strange beds, too passed out to return to their dorms. Girls will be left finding their way back from the city late at night. There will be a nightly diaspora of students all over the city completely outside any safety zone. And they will drink and drive. You and I know that they will.
So at what point did these phu yai, these role models, these disciplinarians, these backward thinkers, forget their own youths? I bet you that pretty much all of them had complete access to alcohol during their student days. I bet they got drunk and had wild and inappropriate sex, I bet they staggered home, arms round each other, and woke up with raging hangovers. I reckon they knocked it back like the best of us and that eventually they learned to be sensible, to look out for their friends, to moderate and to control. And I bet they think that because they no longer do those things, they have the right to ban such behaviour. Well, they don’t. They have a lot more learning to do since they fail to understand that it is human experience, not rule books, which teaches us the most. (And if they didn’t… well, that may explain a few things, and they should understand that they missed out and therefore have no authority with which to judge youth culture.)
So, now that all universities are going to send their students out into the cold to stagger home drunk – and they will – what are they going to hope to archive? When these pseudo family value types shout from their self-appointed soapboxes, telling the sheeple what to do, it simply puts a spotlight on how out of touch and completely irrelevant they have become.
Students, don’t put up with it. This is your time. We are talking about your future here. Think, explore, fuck up, learn, debate, modify and go forth!