The Story: Strange experiences with prostitutes in Asia
You walk down Changkat Road in Kuala Lumpur, and you see a group of lovely Khmer and Vietnamese women on the side of the street. Whether you try to avoid them or try to escape them, they will get near you, asking “Massas? You wan’ massas?” and if you give them half a chance, they will tell you how much they want you, and whisper offers of certain services.
You keep walking, and make it to the bars, with chairs and tables in the street. A beautiful Ugandan woman reaches out her hand and says “Hey baby!” You might wish she were just being friendly, but experience tells you otherwise, and her glare signals that she’s thinking more about your wallet than your character.
For some of these women, they might enjoy their jobs and be paid well, receiving money from tourists willing to have a good time. For others, they might have been charmed into it by foreign men of low moral fibre, promising work as a waitress or a dancer in fine Malaysia, only to find a job of a different nature, with the worst boss of their lives.
Join Kurt on a trip through Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia as he comes across an alienating world of beauty, risk and debauchery in the next episode of… The Paradise Paradox!
Many fools have wasted many hours arguing with people on the Internet, myself included. If you are passionate about politics, or some other controversial subject, you’ve probably got yourself into some awkward conversations. If you’re a real hard case, you might have even incited such conversations on purpose. For arguers, those interactions are enjoyable, an exercise in intellect or rhetoric. For others, they’re emotionally taxing, and can even end friendships. When a discussion becomes an argument, you start to view the people you’re talking to as objects, and that’s especially common on the Internet, when you can’t see their faces.
It’s truly a shame when people stop being friends because of a disagreement over politics, dividing ourselves, removing the possibility of human connection in favour of an abstraction, or even a politician whom you’ll never meet. We can always make the decision to see the humanity in people, recognising their consciousness even in moments of disagreement.
In customer service, you learn to handle people even when they’re emotional, and many of the lessons of customer service can apply in our everyday communications – seeking to understand before seeking to be understood, paraphrasing to confirm comprehension, apologising more than is normally expected, finding common ground with our fellow humans, and being grateful for friendly interactions.
In this episode, Kurt describes how feeling compassion during your arguments can quickly transform them into discussions, discovering more about the perspectives of others, and using understanding to be more persuasive. Join us in another heart-opening episode of… The Paradise Paradox!
There is a principle of law that is acknowledged and often enforced all around the world, that if someone interferes with another’s person or property, they will be punished. For example, if you break down someone’s door without a damned good reason, such as the prevention of harm to an innocent, if you are caught and proven guilty, you will be punished. Likewise, if I approach someone and threaten them into giving me money, if I am caught, I will be punished. Of course, if it is found that I was in a very desperate situation such as having to feed my family, this will be treated as mitigating circumstances and the sentence will be reduced. However, I will still be punished.
Given the choice, would you prefer to live in a society where everyone who broke down doors without a very good reason were punished, and everyone who threatened others into giving them money were punished? Or would you prefer to live in a society where certain classes of people had an exemption, where they could break down doors indiscriminately, without good reason, and threaten people into giving them money without being punished at all?
If a person doesn’t give the question its full consideration, most people will say, of course they would prefer to live in a society where the law is applied evenly. But what is the full extent of this proposition?
Police, having no right to arrest anybody whom they didn’t reasonably suspect of harming someone or their property, will decide to keep mostly to themselves, or find productive ways of maintaining the peace, by establishing ties with the community and gaining its trust. Instead of demanding someone pull over for driving too fast, they would calmly and politely ask, and attempt to persuade them that their actions exposed themselves and others to undue risk.
Judges, knowing that they will be liable for any command they make, will be unwilling to enact any punishment against peaceful people, for example, for buying or selling drugs.
Politicians would be scared to pass any legislation punishing anyone who hadn’t harmed another – making the job of politician almost completely unnecessary. And they certainly wouldn’t call for acts of war which endangered the lives of innocent civilians, because every innocent killed could be a charge of manslaughter. Likewise, soldiers would refuse to attack unless they could be certain they were only attacking a legitimate threat.
Tax collectors would decide to change tactics, knowing they couldn’t threaten anybody into getting their money, and so they would instead canvas for donations, or turn to charging for individual services.
If you agree with the premise that those who injure, threaten or steal from others should be punished, you might have to rethink what the problems with the world are, and what your idea of an ideal world might be. If you disagree, and believe that certain classes of people should be free to attack, threaten and steal from others, and even commit mass murder, then again I would suggest you reconsider where your ideas might lead, what kind of ideal world they imply, and whether that is really the kind of thing you want to support, in your heart or in your actions. Do you really want to be a detractor of civilisation, welcoming violence as necessary, along with all of the abuses of power that come with it?
Making a more peaceful world isn’t easy. There will be challenges along the way, inventing new ways of solving problems with less and less violence, or no violence, when previously we believed they were only solvable with violence. And maybe we’ll never achieve such a thing in our lifetimes, or in any lifetime. But when you look back on your life, with your dying breath, will you be content in knowing that your entire life you supported the status quo, that violence is a requirement? Or would you be more content knowing that you dared to dream, to imagine a world without war, without police brutality and abuses of power, where the word “civilisation” is not a euphemism for a society dominated by the threat of violence, but, through an entire population becoming civil, is a literal fact.
I’m not asking much. I’m not asking you to do or say anything, or even exert any effort. I’m just asking you to let go of one idea, the idea that “violence is necessary” – the conviction that even an ideal world must include threats of violence – because whatever happens, the thought of dominating your fellow man out of necessity can never make you happy. To liberate yourself from this idea is to open up new possibilities, to open yourself to compassion for your fellow man, and to embrace the innocent as worthy of your protection.