ASIA/THAILAND - Testimony of a missionary: "The sense of the common good of the Thai people: we are ashamed of contributing to the malaise of others"

Wednesday, 23 December 2020


Chiang Mai (Agenzia Fides) - "Much has been said about the different approach to the pandemic that exists between Western and Asian countries. In some cases the results still make us reflect despite the fact that there is no magic formula. We talked about the health system, the average age of the population, climate, environment more or less complicit in the spread of the virus, food, individual discipline, social contact and the language itself. Each topic has interesting reasons for debate. I only want to focus on one of them: the meaning of the common good", writes to Agenzia Fides Fr. Attilio De Battisti, Italian Fidei donum missionary in Chiang Mai.
"Thailand - says the priest - has been relatively affected so far by the deadly Covid-19. The infected are very few, in proportion, and almost all have been infected abroad. After the highly restrictive measures at the start of the pandemic - state of emergency and curfew but never a complete lockdown - the internal life of the country has gradually resumed its normal life, although the tourist flow remains completely closed, of which the country has renounced the immense benefits. We can well imagine the economic and social consequences of the choice".
"However, I have seen a value that is highly present in all Asian cultures, a value that also has its effects: the public good is worth more than the economy" - writes Fr. Attilio. "People's health is more important than personal business. In Thailand, we are ashamed of contributing to the malaise of others. Local culture and traditions, steeped in Buddhism, strongly emphasize the Common Good, the community, the Nation. There has often been talk of the nationalist drift of Asian countries, the lack of sensitivity to individual rights, the respectful dependence on authority, the predisposition to totalitarian regimes or monarchies. But it also means that if the West, with the important contribution of Christianity, has emphasized the dignity of the person, of every single person, at the expense of the Common Good, the East, supported by its ancient spiritualities, has cultivated, sometimes in an extreme sense, the importance of the family, the group, the dynasty, the nation. Consequently, the West has the Human Rights that we know and which gradually become more and more individual, while the East pushes towards a different text of human values with social harmony at the center. From my missionary point of view, sent precisely to bring different worlds together, the West can recover from Asia a more collective perspective of its development; in exchange, the East would be enriched by the Western Christian contribution that promotes the person in his individuality".
Fr. Attilio concludes with a thought about Christmas: "The world of God that it encounters in Jesus is incarnated in the human world. A meeting-exchange that enriches us in an unimaginable way. This year I live my last Christmas in Thailand with this certainty: only different worlds that know how to meet can improve". (AdB/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 23/12/2020)