Why all the white people?

By March 24, 2009Uncategorized

It seems to me that it is a very popular thing to travel to Thailand. Out of the three countries we visited (the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand), Thailand had by far more tourists.

So what is it about Thailand? Is it really hyped up or something? Then again why isn’t “the Philippines” as exotic sounding as “Thailand?” They are in South East Asia too.

I believe Thailand is unique because it is proud of its history, arts, culture and national monuments (namely temples). The citizens of Thailand then have this clear and distinguishable identity that they esteem as good. This was very evident in my home-stay family who kept asking for my opinion of Thailand. They were extremely pleased to hear that I loved the food here. They also displayed great pride for their Buddhism and temples.  This, I believe is one of the main reasons why Thailand is such a cool place -those good things which make up the identity of the country and its people.

I think the attractiveness of identity has some deep truths to it. As people we want to experience and be near to that which we describe as good. When we understand a nation’s identity or a person’s to be good it means we would either like to draw on aspects of it for ourselves or stand back and appreciate it and value its worth. When people think Thailand’s culture is cool they may be doing this. For example, they may really want to replicate or buy some of its traditional art, or they may just stand back and appreciate aspects of family values in Thailand. Perhaps some of the attractiveness of identity comes from pure God-given curiosity. For example, I personally may be interested in Thailand because the country’s myths all sound just plain strange to me. So attraction to identity can have different dimensions.

There’s another level to this topic too. Attraction to identity as people of God. How are we attractive to others or not in our identity? What exactly makes up our identity as a people and as an individual Christian?  Do our history, culture, art, family values, myths and monuments make us attractive in the same ways Thailand is attractive or not? Another question is whether or not we should be attractive like Thailand is attractive. I mean as Christians we are not out there to attract tourist dollars. We are out there in the world to attract God seekers.. or make people want to be God seekers.

Thailand isn’t perfect, and its family values can deal bad cards to females, history can be filled with petty political moves and fights, and its art can be sub-par (I should mention that’s the same for us Christians too).  My question is how does that make sense that Thailand still has an attractive identity? There is a lot of hype to Thailand I think. But for anything to be hyped or become a fad, someone had to genuinely appreciate that thing in the first place, and maybe it just gets blown out of proportion later. Therefore, even with the shady aspects to its character Thailand remains a place many long to go to. This is something we could take courage by if we ever think “how will anyone in the world want to be saved from their sins if they know many things about Christianity?”. A simple suggestion I have to make is that we don’t have to be perfect to still be attractive.