Had a nice visit on Friday night with a long-time Thai friend who is currently living in Malaysia. My friend "X" is a native of Chiang Mai, yet has a unique means of looking at himself and his countrymen in that he spent 5 years living in California, and received his engineering degree from UCLA. "X" has a very responsible position with a department of the Thai government and is currently on TDY in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
We were discussing the fact that having lived here for over a decade, I love the country and people, but I still find it somewhat difficut to understand the average Thai person [and will never understand Thai politicians].
In essence, "X" commented:
"Well, don't feel alone. Most Thai do not begin to understand themselves — nor do most even try.
They seem to be incapable of learning about their own country, being too deeply entangled in the characteristics of their 'Thai-ness', which prevents them from seeking the truth.
They wallow in superstition, in the importance of image over substance, and of social harmony over truth — they seem to have an unrealistic tolerance of social ills, and a willingness to smooth things over instead of addressing ugly social problems head on.
It is difficult for most Thai to separate their image of themselves as being Thai, from the reality of who they truly are as human beings."