Kids expose the cracks behind the smiles

Kids expose the cracks behind the smiles

Anti-government protesters occupy Ratchaprasong intersection last Sunday after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha refused to immediately resign. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Anti-government protesters occupy Ratchaprasong intersection last Sunday after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha refused to immediately resign. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The situation in Thailand today is reminiscent of what happened in the US in the 1960s and 70s. It was a time of tumult and young people were in revolt.

America was then heatedly engaged in the Vietnam War. More than two million young people were dispatched to fight a war half the world away, a war they didn't understand, a war many people back home believed was unjust.

So, young people rebelled, and a counter-culture was spawned.

In many ways, today's young Thais are like that. They, too, have seen that the country has been fighting an unjust war, and not just not one far away but right at home.

This is a war of inequality and injustice, a war of one class above all others, a war of hypocrisy, a war of bald-faced lies and corruption, a war that is robbing the young people of their future.

This has been going on for many decades. People have been fed lies, myths and false beliefs, designed to keep the advantaged class in a position of power forever.

But, of course, nothing lasts forever. Neither do lies.

It was the discovery of past lies that has opened the eyes of young Thais and which has brought them out on the streets today.

Demonstrations are nothing new in Thai society. Young people have come out on the streets before. They won once, but they have also been crushed.

But it is different this time. For a long time, the youth had lain dormant. People had written them off as a generation of fluff. But nature works in mysterious ways. What was believed to be inactivity turned out to be the quiet accumulation of youthful energy and acumen now manifesting itself.

Usually polite and somewhat shy when they rally, they become noisy and expressive even though they generally maintain a peaceful atmosphere.

At rallies as well as on social media, the language they use can be shocking to their elders.

Their irreverence has caused much consternation, bewilderment, grief and now rage.

As more young people start to question the logic of old beliefs and myths, adults of that older generation are finding it hard to sit still. These beliefs, these myths, are what have kept the society intact and the people united, they say. And now you want to wreck it all? they shout in dismay.

But as the winds of change have started blowing stronger, these adults have become restless and decided something must be done. It is a wind of evil and has turned citizens into nation haters, children into ungrateful brats and friends into hateful foes -- it must be stopped, they say.

Some among that generation have begun to aim hateful epithets at the young; parents lecture their children of the virtue of gratitude, some even threatening to cut their ties, and friends curse old friendships.

All of a sudden, these young rebels have become devils incarnate. This is despite the fact that up to now these rebels have been upstanding citizens, good children and good friends.

The upset adults turn to their own echo chambers to share their grief and seek comfort. Stories are written to confirm how evil these young rebels are. Conspiracy theories predicting doom and gloom are shared to galvanise counter-action.

In echo chambers, logic flies out the window. Only the confirmation of old beliefs, myths and new lies is allowed.

Of all the people in distress, parents deserve most sympathy. They have watched their children grow, laid down plans for them, and have been looking forward to seeing them have a bright future. And now this.

The beliefs and values they thought they had passed down are now being brought into question by their own children. It's a situation impossible to be reconciled with.

It's hard to accept that the world they had known and grown comfortable with has changed and is changing still. It's even harder to accept that their children have grown into people they hardly understand.

Would it be any use to tell the parents that the good things they thought they had prepared for their children, upon closer inspection, may not be what they seem?

The world that the adults grew up in has itself changed drastically. Will they now accept the fact that the world they are leaving behind for their children is in a major mess?

And can they accept that the world will be what the new generation makes it?

As it is, they will have a darn hard time trying to undo the damage the adults have done. It may take a generation or more to fix.

So, instead of fuming and grumbling and doing harmful things, we old folk could, if not also hang our heads in shame, at least lend them whatever hand we can.

Wasant Techawongtham

Freelance Reporter

Freelance Reporter and Managing Editor of Milky Way Press.

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