Monday, 9 April 2012

To obey or not to obey, that's the question

Today I read a moving story titled In North Korea, a brutal coice.
It is about a woman called Han who escaped from the country with her two daughters to China and was finally permitted to live in the US.
Along the way she faced the cruel choice of leaving her 5 years old son behind or let all die of starvation.
Her Christian faith and structural undernutrition caused her to doubt the dictatorial regime, and in the end make a run for it.
Christian teachings tells followers their obedience is to the devine and above human authority.

Christianity has been and still is being suppressed by dictatorial regimes to prevent people to question authority.

Actually, Christianity became the religion of choice among slaves held by the Romans.
The Jewish people formerly enslaved by Egypt directly influenced the way how they treated their slaves,
provides certain human rights for slaves. This is shared by Christian teachings in the Old Testament.
Christianity made the Roman slaves aware of ill treatment by their Pagan masters. It also helped them to keep their dignity while doing their daily duties. Ultimately their faith was adopted by emperor Constantine and led them to freedom.
Had it not been for the these slaves, Christianity could very well have been vanished into obscurity.
There is no doubt that Christianity gives people excellent aid in escaping suppression either mentally such as with the Roman slaves or also physically such as in case of Han.

Currently, the (North)-Western hemisphere has been declared to have the highest civil and political freedom in the world. Notably in Europe however, churches are closing their doors one after the other.
It seems that the sense of high personal freedom and human development is less compatible with the dogmatic religion than a low one.

I will not claim this is for the good, but while people are trying to figure this out, I remind myself that I come from a more or less Agnostic family and that this dates back from at least three generations.
Religion, especially Christianity played the role of a past station, but for believers, it's a reality, and they deserve to be respected.
While growing up, the only thing I had to question was the validity of authority.

The Netherlands, famous for it's high freedom in civil and political rights, and (in)famous for it's soft-drugs policy, is becoming hopelessly overregulated. Italy and France seem to beat the Netherlands with an even more impenetrable jungle of laws and regulations.

To a certain extent the term "obediphobia", which has been used by several authors to explain the fear of needing to obey, applies to me.
This phobia manifests itself in a fear of large structures, systems, and rules. Or in a broader sense; authority and order.
Viceversa the term "obediphylia" has been used to express the opposite; the need for structure, systems, and rules or authority and order.
I do recognize the need for structure and rules, but there's a certain point that a nation becomes in my idea too patronising and intrusive in the name of a freedom which is not mine.

I have known crisis managers who excelled in restucturing chaotic business environments, but completely failed when everything was in order. Perhaps some people like chaos, but get bored when everything gets a routine. In the West these people are certainly being denied their rights to a healthy amount of chaos.

Perhaps obediphylia is also the reason that spree killers at a certain moment simply snap.
Well, that's not are not very good association for my word of the day anyway.
But talking about spree killers; for those interested to simply to let off some steam in a blunt way, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam facilitate military tourism, where amongst others one can shoot with (semi-automatic) weapons and even use rocket launchers. I do hope however that military tourism will not inspire new wannabe terrorists.

If you allow for a bit of chaos rather than too much order, everything feels much more exciting.
I've read and heard from quite a few expats in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam that they experience a similar sense of freedom in their new country of choice.
I guess an obediphobiac's first need for order will be confined to their own house or accommodation, in order to compensate for chaos outside.

Thailand, famous for its high tolerance towards a diversity of people is a so-called developing country, so it is somewhere half way on a roadmap to become a so-called developed nation.
As such it's the Asian country of choice for expats who seek both a bit of adventure as well as still feeling safe.
Life in in certain places in Cambodia (Phnom Penh) and Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City) still can be pretty rough.
Illegal drugs, organised crime, poverty and to some extent child/teenage prostitution are more visible here than in the Kingdom of Smiles. However there are enough places to go or live without this becoming a fact of live. I found Hanoi for example, extremely organised and in fact a bit boring, but perhaps I haven't met the right people or came at the wrong time. Siem Riep in Cambodia and Dalat in Vietnam would be my cities of choise.
As far as Thailand is concerned I really like Chiang Rai and at times some of the smaller Southern islands near Krabi and Phuket such as Coral Island / Koh Hae, (If you can stand that there's no nightlife whatsoever!).
Finally, for the more daring; Myanmar is opening up, go up there and see how Thailand was 20 years ago before it is too late..


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