No I won’t, but lots of people in Asia think that they will.
I’m still proctoring tests. Yesterday a young woman sat in front of me and I noticed that she was holding her pen what appeared to be torturously wrong, most students these days hold their pens improperly, especially in Thailand. Then I noticed that she had that Bree Walker thing going on, some fingers on each hand just useless lumps of flesh, bone and muscle. So she had an excuse. She did have a good thumb and one or two good opposing fingers on each hand, so that was good.
She looked like a fine young lady. Smart enough, she went through her test with businesslike efficiency. She had the good grooming, posture, and modest, attractive clothes of an intelligent person. She was quite pretty, in fact. Interesting to note, however, that because of her hands many Thais would believe that she had been a bad person in her previous life, or at least had done something terribly wrong along the line of reincarnation somewhere, and was being punished by fate, “karma.”
This same belief falls on children who are born to very poor families. If mom and dad were born poor, the odds are that they would have received an education that was of very poor quality and/or incomplete. If mom and dad are now engaged in bottom rung employment, like working other people’s rice fields, or making baskets, the family’s income is barely enough for poor quality shelter and food. So even though many of these children are highly intelligent, they will, in their turn, receive a poor education and be pressured to go to work very young to supplement family income.
Many Thais believe that these poor children, like their parents before them, and the young woman with Bree-Walker-hands, are in the shape that they are in because of misdeeds in a past life. In the west, we were behavior-controlled by being told: be good, or else you’ll go to hell. In Thailand, it’s: be good, or you’ll be reincarnated as a cripple, or a poor child, or maybe even as a dog.
The other side of this coin is that many prosperous Thais believe that they are rich because in a prior life or lives they were very good people, consummate Buddhists. So they don’t think that they owe anything to anybody in the way of help . . . poor people’s role is to be good poor people so that they can move up the ladder next time around. Helping them would just be interfering.
Many things about Buddhism are very good, and in general, Buddhist societies are very well ordered and happy. Are there any Buddhist terrorists? Maybe somewhere, I don’t like to make absolute statements. Some aspects of Buddhism, however, need a little work.
Let’s think a little, though, before we condemn the complained of behavior. In Europe, we had Calvinist pre-determination, which is pretty close. There’s still a residue of it in some Protestant churches. Either way, your stuck being miserable for a reason beyond your control. Maybe it’s even sillier to think that god put you in misery “for a reason,” or to think that you are rich because god loves you more than he does the poor.
While you’re thinking about it, let’s recall that there are lots of kids out there that could use a hand.