While I don't disagree with you I find this another case of the Occidental setting the bar as to how it should be...pressing material needs?...which ones?...they grow rice and eat it, they cut down bamboo and build shelter (with a hammock nearby), they share their food with the less fortunate, they play with their kids...admittedly a grim outlook from the Western Hemisphere's perspective, but not everyone sees it that way...health wise?... one could argue that in certain ways they're way ahead of the game in some respects...three quarters of the population isn't obese, no heart attacks, going postal, abortions, murders, on and on...education?...to what end?...the better job, to make more money, to buy more stuff?...again, bottom line is many find them to be smarter in myriad ways in comparison to their Caucasian brothers and sisters...it's called living simply...
I live in rural Thailand and I'm white. You live in rural Thailand and you're white. Why is that I'm guilty of some kind of racial blindness to the facts which you escape? And whilst the picture of smiling farmers going lazily about their life is one side of the coin, the other is alcoholism, drug abuse, debt, gambling, superstition, poverty of expectations, an oppressive conservatism, sexual violence, domestic abuse and bunch more ills, all of which are directly related to the material poverty of the villagers.There are very clear material needs which aren't being met and this isn't a radical interpretation which I came up with yesterday. There is, after all, a long running political crisis in Thailand which originates at least in part in this fact. And - to be honest - I find it really
shocking that someone in a position to influence attitudes should be so dismissive of education. Do you really think that the rural poor shouldn't be educated? Is this something to be reserved only for their yellow-shirted 'betters' in Bangkok? A large proportion of the students at the Rajabhat where my wife works come from rural farming backgrounds. Pretty much none of them want to do what their parents did and none
of their parents want their children to follow in their footsteps (i.e. as rice farmers, or - less often - farmers of something else) and I can't blame them because it's back-breaking labour for really minimal rewards and education is how they get the chance to escape a world they're not interested in. In fact, the students I know in the Agriculture Department had to fight with their parents to study farming because their parents felt that it was such a bad life-choice. But even if you take away the instrumental justification for education, which you should, it has value in itself, just as much for the daughter of a rice farmer as for the son of a lawyer. Just as it opens up exterior possibilities, education opens up interior possibilities of extraordinary value and to dismiss that is to make a grave error indeed. And this means that if the building of giant statues is justified, it's of more value than educating the young. I honestly can't see how that can possibly be the case.