When I was in kindergarten, the King was hospitalized for something. A flu, maybe. Anyway, I thought it was a good idea to write him a get well note. My note said something along the line of, “Dear sir, please get well soon. The country needs you. Please be good and take the medicine that the Queen gives you. When you’re well, I’ll come play the piano for you if you’d like.”
Pretty much my mom knew a lady who worked in the palace, and that was how my letter got delivered. Or something like that. Sometime later, someone from the palace called my mom. I believed he said he was the King’s attendant. He then talked to me. He said that the King appreciated my letter and that he was looking forward to getting well so I could come in to play the piano for him.
You wouldn’t believe how much I practiced from that day on! When the news said that the King recovered, I practiced even harder. For about a month. At least. And I kept hoping that the palace would call me someday.
Earlier this year, the lady who delivered the letter came to my brother’s wedding. The first thing she said to me when she saw me was, “So, when are we taking you to the palace to play for the King?”
King Bhumibhol has reigned Thailand for 60 years, the longest reigning monarch in the world. A king that is much loved and admired by his country. Whatever someone else may say about my king, the royal family rumors, and foreigners’ comments, at the core of it, my king is a good man.
Anyways. This Bangkok Post’s article said it best.
MORE THAN A MONARCH
The King rekindles our belief in humanity–and ourselves The Pillar of Stability. The Father of a Nation. The Guiding Light. His Majesty the King is all of this to the Thai people. And much more.
Foreign newcomers often express astonishment at our deep love for the King. That astonishment quickly fades, however, once they learn of the King’s longstanding dedication to the Thai people, particularly to the majority who are poor.
So they conclude for themselves that Thais love the King dearly because of his good deeds. In a world where meritocracy prevails, this is the ultimate virtue; for what you earn must be through commitment and hard work, not birthright. Under this rationale, the King receives so much love from his subjects because he has given so much of himself. As simple as that.
But is our reverence for His Majesty as simple as that?
His Majesty is often described as the world’s hardest-working monarch. And he is. During his 60-year reign, the King has initiated thousands of projects to improve the quality of life of the rural poor and to nurture the severely degraded environment back to health.
Over the past six decades, the King has spent most of each year in the rugged countryside. He has visited villagers in every nook and cranny to listen to their problems, to ask them what they need to ease their difficulties, and to empower them by providing what it takes to help them become self-reliant in the long run.
The King also has used his passion for science to offer his country several cost-effective technologies to deal with the problems of drought, flash floods, water pollution, soil erosion, energy shortages and public health.
Thanks to modern communication technologies, the King still closely monitors the situations of his people with deep concern so they get fitting help in their time of need.
Yet our devotion for the King goes much beyond the tangible.
We are ever grateful for what he has done for the country. But our deep reverence for him comes not only from what he does, but also from what he is.
In the eyes of the Thai people, His Majesty is the embodiment of virtue, the symbol of purity. He is the one person who keeps our faith in goodness alive in an era of dirty politics and cut-throat competition where anything goes.
Thailand is now a different country from what it was 60 years ago. From a sleepy agrarian society governed by traditional values on what was right and wrong, it is now an urbanised, consumer society where money talks loudest.
From a society where group norms kept people’s behaviour in check, it is now a jungle of individualistic pursuits for material gain and sensory pleasure.
Thailand has seen many bumps in between. The Cold War. The communist insurgency. Military coups. Environmental devastation. Street uprisings. Corrupt governments. The economic crash. The tsunami. Southern strife.
These bumps elevate public anxiety and insecurity. Throw in a corrupt police force and flawed judicial process, and morality flies out the window because people cannot rely on the rule of law, but only on their personal connections and the ability to pay their way.
Had it not been for the King, we might have lost our faith in goodness long ago.
When we are up to our necks in corrupt and arrogant politicians, our hearts light up when we see our King walking tirelessly under the scorching sun in faraway villages, or sitting on the ground talking with simple folk, however dirt-stained .
When it is fashionable for the rich and powerful to flaunt their wealth, our heart warms to know that our King uses locally made, simple sneakers, never throws away half-used pencils, eats brown rice despite its stigma as food for prisoners, and adopts street dogs as his pets.
When sensory pursuits are the country’s main obsession, it is good to know that our King is a serious meditator.
Where few dare to tread, such as the areas infested with insurgency, the King makes it a point to go there because it is where help is most needed.
When the country is reluctant to embrace ethnic minorities, the King leads the way by being there with them so the rest of the country knows all must be friends if peace is our goal.
When the greed-driven economy crashed, he guided the country back to its senses with his self-sufficiency philosophy.
In His Majesty the King, we see the beauty of simplicity. We see courage. Indiscriminate giving. Compassion. Perseverance. And spirituality.
By feeling close to him, we feel close to his virtues which makes us feel much better about ourselves when we are constantly sucked into a world of competition and selfishness.
We may feel hopeless over the country’s general decline of morality. We may feel disappointed with ourselves when we cannot resist the surrounding temptations. But we have not lost touch with goodness, thanks to the King.
Because of what the King is, we know what we should strive to be.
Life may be strewn with difficulties. And we may be weak and imperfect. But knowing that we are loved by such a great person who is the embodiment of virtue gives us magical strength to face come what may. To follow in his footsteps. To rediscover the good in ourselves.
More than a monarch, His Majesty is the one person who in times of darkness and despair rekindles our belief in humanity _ and in ourselves. This is why we love and revere our King so much.
Long Live the King!