Reflections on Actions, Labels, and Travel

A few years back there was a 51-year-old Swiss man who spray painted over a picture of the King in Thailand’s second biggest city of Chiang Mai.  He got 10 years.  I have sympathy for his punishment, as did the King, who pardoned him. Yet, I have no sympathy for his useless and foolish act.  When I read about it in the paper I thought: Why would you mess with bureaucracy, and in this case, royal politics, in a country that’s not your own?

An even crazier story is the one about an Englishman who was videotaped in Bangkok saying something along the lines of:

Let’s burn the ‘m-f-n’ building down.”

The Brit was referring to the Parliament building in Bangkok.  The video, from a point-and-click camera, quickly ended up on Youtube.  The man was caught and may have gotten the death penalty.  He was also not a young kid at 48.  Again, I have great sympathy for his potential life sentence but not for this crazy act.  Why?  Perhaps he was very intoxicated.  Actually, the Swiss man in the former episode was indeed inebriated.

I can’t imagine engaging in vandalism, especially living in another country, and involving majesty.  As a traveler in Thailand you know how highly esteemed the King is.  Nobody disrespects the Man with the crown in Thailand or any country.  Had the Britannic chap been Thai he’d have received a life sentence.

As for getting involved in political rallies in a foreign city:  Are you kidding me?  If I see unrest I blow the hell out of Dodge, which means casually walking in the opposite direction of anything that looks like potential mayhem.

Usually I believe in the ‘to each his own’ expression.  I don’t want to be judgmental.   However, in the two above cases: I think that these guys have to be nuts.  Instead of getting involved in politics in their homelands, they’re causing havoc in a land where cultural ideals and values are vastly different compared to Europe.

When people have the audacity to ask me out of the blue, which political party I belong to, I try to explain very nicely that I’m not a republican, nor am I a democrat.  Does that make me apolitical?  Do I belong to the zero or existential party?  I can’t belong to either as I prefer to do without labels.  I prefer to attempt to exist via my own thoughts and actions as much as is possible.

Still, I do concede, if you’re a screaming liberal, I’d at least partially agree with many of your ideals.  But, for the time being, I’ll continue to imagine that I belong to the zero or existential party.  I’ll consider myself apolitical, as long as that isn’t putting a label on myself. 🙂


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