People whose family members or friends hold different political opinions should not allow their relationships to be affected by polarised viewpoints because there is far more to life than just politics.
This is the advice from two people who have successfully dealt with such difficulties as political conflicts continue to linger on the national front.
Gawin Chutima, 58, a veteran development NGO worker, said political differences should never be a reason to sever relations with friends and family.
“[Relationships] are very important. If something happens to you, will any political party step in and take care of you? It will only be your parents. Family is most important,” he said, referring to the sad fact that people have lost their lives and injured in clashes over the past few years.
Some things not for discussion
Gawin says the best way around this is to be selective about what is mentioned and how far one should go when discussing politics.
“I avoid some issues,” he said in relation to what he talks about with his 87-year-old mum, who was a chemistry lecturer and member of the Royal Institute.
He said the only thing he tells his mother is she should not consume one-sided information from certain sources, such as the anti-government BlueSky TV station.
He has also warned his mother to not spread unproven allegations, such as caretaker PM Yingluck Shinawatra is a loose woman, without any clear evidence.
“I have told my mum that if I were her, I wouldn’t say these things,” he said.
When his mum wanted to close her bank account with the Government Savings Bank after the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) began urging its supporters to do so, Gawin said he stopped her by explaining how this would affect the economy as a whole. He managed to convince his mum into writing a letter of complaint to the bank instead, deploring their plans to lend money to help the controversial rice-pledging scheme.
As for his friends, Gawin said they have all mutually agreed to drop the issue if a battle seems imminent. He said it’s particularly pointless debating when issues lack solid proof.
However, one of his relatives can’t deal with this arrangement and chooses to just not discuss politics at all with his wife, who holds different opinions.
At home, Gawin also chooses never to discuss what is happening with his driver and housekeeper – who are both fans of the fugitive former PM Thaksin Shinawatra – or with his wife, who is a former National Human Rights Commission official, and backs the PDRC.
After all, Gawin points out that no matter which side eventually wins, Thais will have to co-exist with millions of others who think differently.
“So how can we co-exist?” he asked, adding that if one side starts killing people from the opposing side, Thailand will be mired in a civil war.
Political scientist Sirote Klampaiboon, 40, said every time he discusses politics with his older brother – senior Democrat Party member Ong-art Klampaiboon, who is 16 years his senior – he first mentions their mutually accepted principles, such as no military coup and no use of force against protesters.
“I’m lucky that members of my family are not extremists who will not listen [to opposing views],” he said, adding that allowing politics to define everything in life was “nonsense”.
“Politics is just one dimension of life. We may differ on politics, but might agree on how the economy is to be run or on sports. Humans have multiple identities and we should appreciate that.”