On the occasion of marking my second year here in BangCock I asked my self lately if the city changed me at all. In particular, I wondered if I've adopted any of the habits of the people, which I doubted coz I practically have no Thai close friends. (I know that's an ignominy but I've not stopped trying.)
With a little more introspection, however, I realized how my opinions on things have mellowed down, thanks to the Thais. Let me explain.
Many times when I ask Thais about their opinions on things (pretty much EVERY thing) they often tend to just say "It's OK". Full stop. Nothing too elaborate. I've always wondered if they are just being polite by not expressing very strong opinions about a subject or if they just don't care.
On the contrary, most of the Thais I know are just as concerned about things as everybody else, although it's quite true that frankness is not something I expect from them all the time.
More importantly, I GUESS because of Buddhism's immense influence on the culture, Thais might espouse a less judgmental stance on most things.
On the other hand, I grew up in a culture that puts a strong value on criticism. Filipinos always have something to say about EVERY thing. Pinoys generally like to analyze and take a stand and a person's relevance and intelligence is rooted on what he can dis.
In many cases, we especially like to disagree, which is exactly not "bad" because it gives a certain dynamism to discussions and it's good exercise of our analytical skills. However, too much of it can be toxic, especially if we think we are always right and everybody else is wrong. I noticed that it has become too prevalent for Pinoys to disagree just for the sake of disagreeing.
I used to be vociferous in defending my opinions as well. In fact, just like any regular Pinoy, I'd always have an instant opinion about ALL things. My statements tend to start with... "I like...", I don't like...", "I hate...", "You're wrong...", ""You're right...", "He's dumb...", "They should've...", etc.
I must've sounded very arrogant when I brought that attitude in Thailand. I'm not sure if I did really, I was totally unaware of such things then.
Since coming here though I've been influenced by the Thai's approach of non-judgment, if I may call it as such. I tend to see things just as they are and there's hardly any judgment reflex of either liking or approving, much less labeling things as bad or good.
At first I was concerned that I'm less analytical than I used to be. Does that make me less smart? Or is it just pure laziness on my part? Is it being superficial? At the end of the day, I realized it's fine not to have an opinion all the time. Yeah, on certain cases I can still have very strong opinions although I generally keep them to my self. Who cares what I have to say anyway?
Still increasingly, I'm hearing my self quipping "OK" more and more rather than "I like/don't like..." That approach has considerably lessened the noise in my head and I feel more attuned to that.
I don't know if this leads to a level of apathy. I think it is, especially if for instance I have less political opinions. Or that my sense of morals are more relativistic than many people I know. I don't even deem my opinion as more valid than others. Again, the effect is less mental pandemonium.
Instead of judging, I'm more inclined to put more effort in understanding things, people especially. Rather than labeling them as disagreeable/agreeable, I'm more curious how and why people think or behave a certain way.
Of course my more mellow take on things cannot be applied in all cases. I'm a natural, condescending bitch after all.
Perhaps I deliberately developed my non-judgmental approach and the attitude is less of something that just happened on its own. Perhaps part of it is the influence I get from my current environment. I'm not exactly sure, but somewhere along the way, I must've started on developing the habit of not having an opinion, to be less critical, to just accept things as they are, to just say "it's OK".
Is it necessarily a good direction to take? I'm not sure. It does not really matter.
(Again, the pictures do not have anything to do with this post. Love the curves of those bodies though, chai mai?)