Thursday, December 9, 2010

Judge not lest ye be judged

(I've been trying to think of a better title for this post, aware of the irony/inappropriateness of using judeo/christian proverbs and/or bible verses to describe happenings in a Buddhist country. But so it goes.)

I wish I could show you a map of where I am. So the main road of the town are a big T, on a peninsula. The bottom of the T is where the Khong and Mun rivers collide. The right side of the T takes you north-ish, through markets and out of town. The left side of the T takes you past restaurants, the fresh market, karaoke bars, over the Mun bridge, more karaoke bars and on to Phiboon Mansahan and Chong Mek (South-ish). Much of the commerce of the town takes place somewhere on this T, before the the Mun bridge.

I've been asking myself why the people here, who have been kind to me, are generally kind to each other, and the majority of whom are practicing Buddhists, allow so many (15 or so) karaoke bars to exist so close to their homes. (Also, when I say karaoke bars, these are brothels, not your neighborhood family karaoke spots.) So why don't the people of this town mind that there are karaoke bars, barely on the edge of their town? They see the girls from the bars in town buying food or at the beauty salon. Although the people in town and girls from karaoke rarely speak, the girls are obviously under 18. Why doesn't it bother anyone!?

But then I thought to myself, well what about me? I walk through Chinatown in San Francisco, past massage parlors, and do nothing. I study trafficking, I work in anti-trafficking sometimes. I know what happens in some of those bars or massage parlors. I know it happens in places all over my community. But I do nothing. On one hand it's not as close as it is here, on the other hand... I have no excuse. But what can I do? Maybe people here wonder the same thing... I asked someone about this and they described it as not wanting to make trouble. This is the way things are, there are karaoke bars, young Lao girls work in them, disrupting the balance would be a bad thing.

There is a sign at a local school that says "Do evil. Receive evil. Do good. Receive good." But what about when we do nothing? Where does that fall along the line of morals and ethics?

1 comment:

  1. When considering people's motivations, I forgot the most important one. Money. Why don't people oppose karaoke bars, especially those with undocumented and underage migrants? They're good for business. The girls from them go to the beauty salon and buy clothes. The customers stay in guesthouses and motels, eating dinner and buying souvenirs. A long line of people take money for bribes, false arrests, or bargain in return for "trade". I guess money really does make the world go round, no matter where you are.