By Pollisa Tien-iam-arnan
I am 16 years old, and I have something to say.
Over these past few months, Thailand has experienced arguably the most organic wave of pro-democracy protests in history. It’s a beautiful sight.
Regular citizens transform into protest leaders at 5pm daily, taking to the streets and chanting “slaves to dictatorship” at cops.
Demonstrators of all ages and backgrounds raise the defiant three-finger salute high in the air against the Prayut Chan-o-cha Regime.
Win-motorsais. Taxi drivers. Young kids in high school uniforms. University students. Office workers. People who came in from the provinces. Uncles and aunties. Brothers and sisters. Parents and children. The working class and the middle class join together.
But where are the rich kids?
Thailand’s political system inherently benefits us and has benefitted us for generations. It’s this system that has created such a vast wealth gap. Because the system favors us, we close our eyes to corruption and our ears to nepotism.
We sit idly by while monopolies take over the country and take advantage of the working class. Why? Because we are the monopolies.
Those 26,000 baht Gucci shoes we wear to school every day are only so affordable as long as we pretend the double standard and injustice in Thai society do not exist.
We live in high-rise condominiums and mansions, enclosed in expensive neighborhoods, with security guards standing watch at every gate.
We attend expensive, private schools to not have to deal with the public school system. We have the wealth and political capital to demand better futures for people of all classes, but we don’t.
We surround ourselves with western ideals of equality and democracy. We argue against white supremacists and laugh at Donald Trump. All the while, we turn a blind eye to unjust and undemocratic powers that oppress the freedom of our fellow citizens.
Why? Because they are the middle and working class. They are not us. They are not of our tribe.
We’ve created a bubble of privilege where the issues we identify with are Western. But when it comes to the realities of Thailand, we see no evil and hear no evil.
Why? Because harassment and persecution of the people, the unjust constitution, and the rule of privilege only adversely affect middle and working-class people.
Not us. We are privileged. We are protected. We can buy our way out of almost anything and into nearly anything.
I’m speaking to myself as well as my peers.
Stop silently watching the sons and daughters of your father’s employees demand for just a shred of the opportunities we were given at birth.
Stop being so politically tone-deaf.
There’s nothing wrong with being born into wealth. But it is shallow and ignorant to be so wrapped up in luxury brands and fancy lifestyles while others are risking their lives to fight for basic human rights.
It’s time to put our political capital, short-temper, and Gucci shoes to good use.
Hit the streets. Let this tyranny end in our generation.
Pollisa is a co-founder of Choose Change, a youth-led media platform that encourages teens to speak up about social issues and enact change. / E-mail: email@example.com / Website: choosechange.co / Instagram: @choosechange.co