By Supakarn Nakavisut
The roar of protestors thundering down Bangkok’s streets can only mean one thing: war is happening in Thailand. Not between classes or religions but between generations.
And despite how it is portrayed in the news, the battle is not on the streets but in Thai families’ households.
The Thai youths are clashing head to head with their conservative parents. They are not like previous generations and are not willing to put up with any more bullshit.
In a conservative Thai family, this does not go down well. Students are forbidden to attend protests or to discuss it around the house.
There are stories of parents threatening to withhold pocket money, cut off or disown their child unless they take down specific social media posts.
Still, with the avalanche of posts and memes coming in from other protestors, it is hard to ignore and not join in.
Coming from a conservative family myself, I’ve had my share of domestic disagreements. Some we could workout, some we agree to disagree.
I write this intending to help those on the frontline of this generational war.
Do your research
Don’t hold an opinion just because your friends do.
Do your research. Read about the history, in and out of Thailand. Read the relevant literature on the topic.
Ask yourself why you feel the way you do. Why are they wrong? Come up with your arguments.
Study about the arguments against your position and be objective. Challenge your convictions and sharpen your point of view.
Be prepared if confronted or challenged.
“The battle will not be won by who is more right but by who is more prepared” – Sun Tzu
Model good listening
In my classroom, if students aren’t listening, I must first engage them with things that interest them.
If the people around you act like children and refuse to listen to your point of view, you must be an adult.
Model good listening. Show them how to listen to someone’s point openly. Reiterate their position back to them in a manner that they agree with.
Once they feel less threatened, they can open up to your point of view.
“Connection before correction.”
Aim for convergence, not conflict
A level of understanding is required for real tangible change to happen. If you intend to improve society, avoid saying things just to “score a point.”
You will undoubtedly run into the risk of offending people, but don’t let that be your intention.
There is no nice way to say to someone they’ve been living under a lie their whole life. How can that not be an insult to their intelligence?
However, if you intend to create positive change for society, convergence is necessary.
Find commonality among differences. Use hypotheticals. Show vulnerability, willingness, and openness; perhaps they will do the same.
“Open dialogue is the only weapon we have for peace” – Malala Yousafzai
Make a backup plan
If they simply will not listen and threaten to cut you off, have a backup plan ready.
Having a backup job or income source can give you leverage to defend your beliefs. Find people around you who can support you if you’re in trouble.
I know this is much easier said than done. But you have to consider how far you are willing to go to fight for your convictions.
Make sure you make these plans before engaging in a heated confrontation.
“If I cut you off, chances are you handed me the scissors” – Internet
Family is family
Every human is different and has a unique point of view. There’s no way of going through life and completely agreeing with everyone about everything.
But even if we disagree on some of the most fundamental issues of life, it is essential to remember that no one will ever love us like our family.
Sometimes it is necessary to make a point. As the saying goes, we only hurt the ones we love. But keep in mind that it is possible to disagree, share different values, and love simultaneously.
“No family is perfect… we argue, we fight. We even stop talking to each other, but in the end, family is family… the love will always be there” – Internet
Supakarn is a musician/teacher based in Myanmar. He founded the Myanmar Jazz Club and BARE MUSIC and promotes music education throughout Southeast Asia.