Flood Waters

Thailand Flooding 2011

As the inter­na­tion­al media is report­ing, Thai­land is cur­rent­ly expe­ri­enc­ing one of the worst floods in liv­ing mem­o­ry. Hun­dreds of peo­ple have lost their lives and thou­sands more have been made tem­porar­i­ly home­less. Even now a wall of water is grad­u­al­ly descend­ing on Bangkok and no-one seems to be able to pre­dict how much more dam­age it will cause. (The flood­wa­ters have reached my neigh­bour­hood and although I’ve booked a taxi to the air­port for an ear­ly morn­ing flight to Lon­don I’m anx­ious about miss­ing my flight.)

A Thai friend has pre­dict­ed that the impact on people’s lives will be more seri­ous than that caused by the tsuna­mi in 2004. Although few­er peo­ple will die, the num­ber of peo­ple seri­ous­ly affect­ed will be greater. There are many peo­ple who were count­ing on that next pay check to feed their fam­i­lies and pay their debts. As rice fields, orchards, and indus­tri­al estates have been sub­merged, so too the hopes of many people.

Thai­land was for­mer­ly a sav­ing soci­ety. The rate of sav­ing (GDS) was in the range of 30 to 40 per­cent, among the high­est in the world and ade­quate to cov­er the invest­ment need­ed for growth. The Thaksin [Shi­nawa­tra] gov­ern­ment has encour­aged peo­ple not to save but to con­sume, and to go into debt to con­sume. House­hold debt has rough­ly quadrupled.

Thaksin: the busi­ness of pol­i­tics in Thai­land’ by Pasuk Phong­pai­chit & Christo­pher John Baker

Although nat­ur­al dis­as­ters are often inescapable, they give us an oppor­tu­ni­ty to reflect on how we live our lives and what expec­ta­tions we have.

Children Helping with Flood Relief in Thailand

Apart from encour­ag­ing compassion—the active effort to assist peo­ple who are in distress—the Bud­dha repeat­ed­ly urged peo­ple to look inwards and to rec­og­nize the roots of suf­fer­ing. Here is a teach­ing that is apt to the present circumstances:

There are these four floods: the flood of sen­su­al desire, the flood of becom­ing, the flood of views and opin­ions, and the flood of igno­rance. This Noble Eight­fold Path is to be devel­oped for direct knowl­edge of these four floods, for the full under­stand­ing of them, for their end­ing, for their relinquishment.

S. V. 59

A Woman Submerged in Water in Thai Floods




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