The Culture of Corruption from a Religious Perspective

Another article analyzing Thailand's culture of corruption from a religious vantage point. Thailand is fundamentally a very individualistic society where social conscience is exercised only within a circle of family, village or friends. This can be observed in road traffic where strangers meet and show hardly any consideration for one another. However, as soon as some sort of contact is established, Thais are extremely friendly and helpful with excellent social skills.

The karmic viewpoint is also influential. An (apparently) rich or powerful person is perceived to be deservedly so because of a karmic advantage, while the poor deserve to be so because of bad karma. This view is deeply rooted and almost antithetical to the Christian idea of an ideal of poverty and skepticism towards wealth ("More easily shall a camel enter through the eye of a needle than a rich man into the kingdom of God") which in turnx asks for compassion for and sharing with the poor and disadvantaged. These Christian precepts in turn ideally lead to a more just society with better wealth distribution especially when institutionalized by governments as in the largely Protestant but unreligious societies of Northern and Western Europe.

Conversely Thai society relies on the communal fabric of society, friends and family share and help each other, but each individual will not have the societal benefit in mind. This has to be adopted through education and possibly a patriotic spirit, without Thais compromising their peaceful and communal lifestyle which make them some of the most welcoming people in the world.

Posted: 13 December 2006

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