Wandering Into Words of Wisdom - Part Two

July 15, 2002

Sr Colonel Pradapkaen views the world with a very clear sense of right and wrong and with a sense of personal responsibility, as you may have gathered from last week’s article. (See back issues: Wandering Into Words of Wisdom - Part One: 08 July 2002: http://www.bangkokpost.net/kat/archives/080702a.html) After speaking to him, I spent the next few days reflecting on all he had shared with me and wishing I could have had my own grandfather sit down with him, too. They would have been the closest of friends. Colonel Pradapkaen’s views on the world now continue…

When questioned about his opinion regarding rooster fighting, a popular pastime in Thailand, he responded, “I don’t like it because I pity the animal. Whether animal or man, both have feelings but the animals can’t speak. If they could speak, they would say, ‘Why are making me fight? Why don’t you fight yourselves and let me out of here?’”

Somewhat recent laws have forced entertainment venues in Thailand to150702k1.jpg close at 2 am. When I asked whether this was too early, Sr.\ Colonel Pradapkaen stated, “No! It is too late! I think staying open until midnight is long enough. I never went to clubs or bars in my life except for one time to try to understand why people would like it there. Filled with the smell of smoke and liquor, yuck! Why would people spend money for nothing? Why not go to the beach or to the forest to relax? People in bars are only doing what they like for their own delight but it is not right. Bad things come from this behaviour. After drinking, people look for more pleasure. The problem of AIDS comes from this.”

When queried as to what he considers to be the biggest problems facing his country today, he said, “The economy. But also life in Thailand is different from the earlier days. Many values from foreign countries have come to Thailand. Children like these values because they are pleasing to them but the negatives come later, like AIDS and addiction to drugs.150702k2.jpg Family is becoming less important to other family members. For children today, it is their friends that are the most important people.”

When asked to discuss further the generation gap, he adamantly stated, “Young people should not dress the way they do. It is not polite. They also talk too much about their personal rights but they have gone way beyond the limits into off-limits.”

He has seen tremendous amounts of technology come into existence during his lifetime. His opinion about the technological era is, “High technology is there only in the material sense but not in people’s minds or spirit. As technology goes higher and higher, the human spirit goes lower. Because people want to buy the technology, they think about that and not about themselves or if it is good for them.”

When I asked if he gives money to beggars or not, he pondered and then replied, “If his or her body is working, I don’t give them any money. I look first to see if the person150702k3.jpg asking for money is healthy or not healthy. If he or she is missing an arm, a leg or is blind, for example, I will give them money.” He has been an intensely industrious man his whole life. At the age of 68 he still works 50 hours per week. When asked if he had any plans for retirement, the response was, “Maybe I will retire at the end of this year. I would like to rest but it depends on if my boss still needs me.” When questioned as to what he would do if hypothetically given two weeks of vacation time, he stated, “I would drive from Bangkok to Phuket to visit the beach. I would plan my trip so that during my drive, I would spend the night at different temples along my route.”

When asked if he had any fear or reservations about dying, the Sr Colonel grinned and said, “Afraid to die?! We are born, we get old, we get ill, and we die. It is a fact. You cannot avoid this. Don’t worry about this cycle; just be happy.”

Sitting and talking with members of the older generation is a window into the way things used to be, a source of tremendous knowledge and insight, and a resource that is far too often underestimated, dismissed or even shunned. Readers, why not ask someone much older (or much younger than yourselves) how they view the world today? You might be surprised at what you hear and how you feel afterwards. Sharing an afternoon with Sr Colonel Pradapkaen was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done recently.

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