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Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Personal responsibility

In Australia we are well served by social security. Many Australians take social security for granted and even consider it to be a right. That is not necessarily so.

In many countries there is little or no social security, no dole, no old age pension. For most Thai people their security in old age comes from their family. Old people are usually looked after both physically and financially by their children. So what happens to people without children?

One night when I was staying with my friends (or perhaps brother and sister) Ead and Tong. There was a magazine style program on TV. I usually watch TV quietly and accept the challenge of picking up what I can from the visual clues and the little (very little) I know of Thai language. I was intrigued by this short program about an old man on a boat. I asked what was going on.

The man was a fisherman who was 106 years old. He lived on a small open boat. At night he moored it under a bridge and every day he went fishing. He had never married and never had a family so there was no one to look after him. He'll probably keep on working until the day he dies.

In Australia we would expect the government to take care of this man. But he had no such expectation. He accepted his personal responsibility without bitterness.

SP - Thai friend

Dear KL John,
Last month, I was told by my sisters and brothers that after his story was aired on TV, the Thai Queen managed to build a new boat 'with roof' for him so that he can travel happily as he wishes. I am sure that so many people offer him helps, but he declined. Some said that the government or someone should look after him because he is really old (106 yrs). But others were aware of the fact that if they did so, he might not be happy and it might change ‘HIS’ way of life. He has a message to young people (I try to recall and translate any way):

Look at the sea shell. It has no leg and no arm. But it survives itself. It finds food and never asks for... We are human beings. We have two legs and two arms. Why can’t we survive ourselves? If we don’t have mush, then we use a little. So we don’t have to worry and ask them from others.... Do we reallise that those things that some people gave to us, they may have to work very hard to get them for us. Some may have many children to look after. So we should not take advantage of their kindness.... (Sorry I've got a short memory :) I can’t remember the rest).

Anyway, this man always exchange things with the fishes he caught. He always relies on himself and never expects help or things from other people. People who know him truly love him. That may be a reason why he is now 106 years old.
Thanks for your comment SP. It shows what a beautiful heart this man has.
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