By Shana Kongmun
The recent flooding took center stage
over a scandal that took place at a local high school and rightly so. While
the outrage that many felt over students dressing up as Hitler and Nazi
stormtroopers is certainly justified, sometimes it is better to take a step
back and rationally and realistically assess the situation and our
priorities. Many readers were rightly angered over the incident but the fact
is a little matter of a 40-50 cm of water in the business district and much
higher than that in other areas around the city, took precedence over the
foolish and ignorant behavior of students at a school who’s teachers should
have known better.
And while I deplore the ignorance of
the students and the lack of supervision by teachers I have one question to
ask those who are appalled that these students don’t grasp what this means
to Westerners. Do you have a similar visceral reaction to say, the rape of
Nanjing where Japanese soldiers went on a killing frenzy, raping and
murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent Chinese civilians? And what
about something a bit more recent, the genocide of Cambodia and Pol Pot,
genocide that our more enlightened and experienced nations turned a blind
eye to? Or perhaps we can discuss the systematic torture and rape that goes
on in parts of Myanmar even today?
Yes indeed, Thai students should know
more about Hitler and the horrific genocide he perpetuated on millions of
people. But perhaps, so should we learn more about other countries and
cultures and the history that they learn.
And maybe, while we should be
concerned, perhaps we should re-assess our priorities and be more concerned
for the thousands of Chiang Mai residents and the millions of Thai people
who are currently suffering from terrible flooding instead of focusing on an
ignorant and foolish display that can be corrected with education. The loss
of lives and homes is not so easily fixed.
Lend a helping hand
I had intended to write a column about the events at a local school and to
address the outrage many feel. However, since then what can only be
described as more pressing and current matters have struck this lovely city
in the form of flooding that has inundated portions of the city.
Some people have been looking for someone to blame. Our mayor has accepted
that blame and apologized for not protecting the city from the floods. But,
really, is there blame to be laid?
Well, we could start with global climate change, which may (or may not as
some people feel) be the reason we have had 9 weeks of regular, heavy rains.
And indeed the rains started early this year with rain even in March. Or
perhaps we could blame those people who built housing and businesses along a
river known to flood regularly? Or maybe we should blame those people who
chose to live there even knowing it does flood? Or those people who chose to
ignore the warning signs (two full days of heavy rains after weeks of rain
and totally saturated ground and a full river)?
Or perhaps we should blame the people in charge of the dams as I have heard
a few people have already done? These officials face a catch-22. If it rains
and they don’t store enough water then they are blamed for not saving enough
water for the dry season. If they store water and save it for the dry
season, they are blamed if they save too much and have the overcapacity
problems the dams face now. I don’t think weather prediction is quite up to
predicting long term forecasts months in advance but perhaps I am wrong and
someone somewhere with the latest technology can predict rainfall amounts
months in advance. If so, I hope this person steps up to the plate next time
and lets that information public.
Or maybe we should just accept that nature happens and that no matter how
hard we may try to combat the effects of disastrous weather, it still
happens and there’s really very little we can do when it’s extreme. You can
fight nature, but you will usually lose.
Perhaps it is better to focus on what we can do and get out there and help
clean up this city that we love, to help our struggling neighbors, to join
our local community with a broom, mop or scrub brush and help. It is times
like these that people need to work together rather than sit around and try
to find ways of apportioning blame.
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