Not everyone is cut out to become a fascinating, world-changing leader who gets interviewed by The New York Times, but that doesn't mean they don't bring anything to the table. I know I am just another person, but I try to be more than a lump who changes oxygen into carbon dioxide. With that said, I want to offer the reader something of value, rather than taking the easy way out and ranting about getting bitten by a dog the other day.
But in a nation as undisciplined as Thailand, asking people to uphold morals of any sort almost seems like asking if lions can become vegetarians. It's difficult when everyone around you is playing dirty; if you don't as well, you'll get behind in the rat race. Being me-deep in a society concerned with a what's-in-it-for-me mindset, it can be easy to choose the dark side, where all the cookies are.
It appals me every time I think about the statistics released in 2011 showing how almost 70% of people here were OK with corruption if the country prospers.
A person in the position of running the country should be decent as a given, not the other way around! It's not something anyone should even have to put up with and with an appeasing attitude like this, we may just remain as a third-world country that will never see the dawn of development.
It may be hard to believe, but better things really can come from the person staring back at you in the mirror. You might think the stance you stick by is futile and it isn't going to eradicate the world's endless pot of problems, but even if it makes the smallest difference, I think it matters.
And when it affects someone else positively, they may start doing the same to people around them, and a ripple effect might just create many more better people. If there is one less line-cutting car on the road, there will be less traffic. If there is one less trash-dumper, the city will be cleaner. And if a million people think like that, perhaps some substantial change might start to shape up.
It's always amusing to listen to my father, a civil servant at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tell stories during dinner about people he deals with. They are usually colourful anecdotes about fits and tantrums people throw, but a story he told the other day stands out from the rest.
A woman needed her documents authorised ASAP and, looking a little lost, she went to consult my father. He explained to her the process required for urgent documents and what she had to do: no shady business, just the plain legality of things. When she was done, she came in to see my father a few days later, thanked him profusely and put an envelope on the table. He didn't even look inside the envelope and simply said, "I can't take this."
She persisted, badgering him to accept the token of appreciation for helping her out, so he told her off.
"It's my job to help people out. It should be a given that every civil servant serves the country, so don't you dare go around giving that to any other department either. Money is not supposed to be the way things work. If you don't stop bugging me, I am going to call the police to come and arrest you for bribing."
I was really impressed that my father, known to enjoy hunting freebies at malls during the weekend, said that. His act of simply doing his job properly has rekindled in me a fire for sticking to what's right, and hopefully illustrated to that woman how things should be.
If you don't have time to go out and manually build houses on borders to make the world a better place, fair enough, but don't give any less than you are supposed to. Every person does have to account for something, no matter how small, and doing the right thing should never make you feel like you are doing something wrong. So, try not to be an imbecilic driver on the road, vote for a competent person who really can make a difference (not a Furby), don't think the Magic Eye (tar wiset) can't see when you slyly throw your tissue on the street, and don't leave the world any worse than it already is.
Parisa Pichitmarn is a writer for the Life section.
About the author
- Writer: Parisa Pichitmarn
Position: Life Writer