Living in Thailand, you get used to the Ministry of Culture of Whatever and Ever being outraged about something. Not liking the increasing encroachment of Western, Japanese and Korean values invading Thailand, Thai Ministries are always on a rampage about something new – trying to ban it, saying it’s “against Thai values” or other such 18th century nonesense. But, today’s latest cultural outrage happened because of a photo of a supposed Thai Buddhist monk ‘planking’ – you know, lying somewhere like a plank and being photographed.
In Thai culture, Buddhist monks are never supposed to behave badly or to follow the latest craze (although many of them, of course, do – I’ve lost track of the number of Thai monks I’ve seen buying the lastest cell phone or MP3 player). So, to suddenly have a photograph of a Thai monk ‘planking’ showing up all over the internet is shocking to many people in Thailand. After all, these are the people who are some of the most highly revered and respected in the country. Planking doesn’t quite fit in with that image somehow.
Problem is, nobody knows who the monk is or, if in fact, he is a monk at all or just some random Thai guy wearing a monk’s robe (well just about every Thai guy has one, as most of them are monks at one time or another after all). But you can bet the Ministry of Such and Such will find out who it is, even if they have to go into computer records to do so.
Yesterday, The Network of Organisations for the Protection of the Nation, Religion and Monarchy yesterday condemned the picture, saying it had hurt Buddhism. Honestly. I don’t agree with them.
I don’t think it’s “harmed Buddhism” as most people know there are idiots in every religion. I do however think it’an inappropriate act for a monk to be doing, if indeed he is a monk and, if he’s not, come on random Thai guy – have some respect for your religion and don’t act like a complete twat.
What do you think?