Taoist mythology, Lanna history, mythology, the nature of time and other considered ramblings

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Location: Chiangrai, Chiangrai, Thailand

Author of many self-published books, including several about Thailand and Chiang Rai, Joel Barlow lived in Bangkok 1964-65, attending 6th grade with the International School of Bangkok's only Thai teacher. He first visited ChiangRai in 1988, and moved there in 1998.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Community as Wealth

Visiting my wife’s village for their New Year celebrations, I was struck by her Lahu tribe’s dancing. It looked so simple, but I could not figure how to do it. Yet everyone stayed pretty well in step. Eventually I figured it as an exercise to practice solidarity, harmony, concord and camaraderie. People were becoming more closely in sync with each other.
These are people almost never alone, who have scarce little cash, credit or material wealth. They do have, and value, community. They help each other, and are seldom desperate, nor in need of charity – from folk they don’t know, anyway (and from ones they do know, it’s another kind of thing entirely: more a kind of investment).
When I was young, the folk duo Simon and Garfunkel had a popular song about Richard Corey, a man who had everything, but went home and “put a bullet through his head”. It was easy to relate to the loneliness and isolation portrayed. We know that things alone cannot provide happiness, or even reason to live.

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