I am writing you this letter because in the past six weeks I have often been angry. I've often been disappointed, disillusioned, and frustrated. But there was only one moment in this entire agonizing sequence that moved me to tears. That was when your leader, Veera Musikaphong, surrendered to the authorities, and spoke of his dreams, his disappointments, and his enduring hopes.
As the smoke dies down, you are going to be told that you were lied to, duped, tricked, bought and betrayed; that you were tools of evil men who did not truly care about your fate; that you are terrorists, arsonists, destroyers of our culture, king-haters. It will be said that you destroyed the country's international image and obstructed its economic recovery. Worst of all, you will be told that you are all ignorant people who have misused your political voices because you didn't understand democracy.
I am afraid that in many cases, the people who say these things will be telling the truth. The instant rebirth that you wanted for our country has turned out to be more of a false dawn. Many crimes have been committed and both sides have hidden important facts from each other.
Even though these things are in many cases true, I want you to know that they have not invalidated other truths: the truths that you carried in your hearts when you set out to air your grievances in a peaceful demonstration.
The doors that should have opened for you years ago, when this country became a democracy, have opened too slowly. The education that you need to become equal participants in society has been withheld too long. The voice that you have always had has been discovered too late, and because it was so long pent up, it is been expressed destructively. And the worst destruction was not that of a few shopping malls and banks; it was the destruction you wreaked upon yourselves.
But I want you to know that when it comes to the liberation of the human spirit, history is on your side. The road towards a more perfect democracy may be difficult, but it is unstoppable. You did not lose this war. But I hope you will have learned from it. The question is not whether the war will be won, but how it will be won: through mayhem and bloodshed, or through slow, painful discussion and compromise — through evolution — the civilized way.
It may be hard for you to believe this, but many people who have been painted as your enemies share your most cherished dreams. For example, I sincerely believe that the prime minister, K. Abhisit, comes philosophically closer to those dreams than a number of your leaders. If he did not — if his mindset had been that of some of the military dictators Thailand has had in the past — the carnage of the last few days would have been unconscionable.
I also believe that many of your leaders, like K. Veera, share the hopes and dreams of those not affiliated with your movement, because they are, by and large, the hopes and dreams of all Thai people: to live in peace, not to spend your life in a mindless struggle to survive, to have the same chance as anyone else at realizing your aspirations and becoming fulfilled human beings.
It may be too soon to hope for this, because the mutual anger and distrust are still too great. If K Veera is found guilty of any crimes, justice will have to be served, just as much as if K Suthep were found to have abused his authority. But it would be a beautiful thing to see idealists like K. Veera playing a role in an Abhisit government. Such a compromise occurred in Italy decades ago, and it saved their country from a potentially disastrous internecine struggle.
You have changed Thailand for ever by discovering, and showing your fellow citizens, that you have the right to think, and to speak, and to act. I urge you to go further. Keep thinking. But think for yourselves. Don't think what you're told to think. Speak what you think, not what you are told to speak. And act with your minds as well as your hearts, and in the interests of all, even those whom you disagree with.
Not many people in Bangkok would feel grateful to you at this moment. But I do want to thank you. What you did was really important, though perhaps not for the reasons you think. And I want to explain why.
When you build a road, you will sometimes come to a mountain. To get to the other side, you may have to go around it. You may have to dig a tunnel. Or you have to blow up the mountain.
Thailand has come to that mountain. But for at least two decades, no one has been willing to go around, dig a tunnel, or blow up the mountain. Yet everyone knows we must get through. The mountain is in the way. Some past governments have stolen your money to build golden hot-air balloons so that a few individuals could get across, not caring if the rest were stranded. Others have talked and talked and talked, but the mountain is still there. Of course you are impatient.
You didn't blow down the mountain, but the tragic events that have unfolded have convinced everyone that it is time to move on. Your people — and the soldiers, too — did not suffer and die in vain. Though we seem to be in darkness and chaos, a fuller democracy is closer today than it has been at any time during the Thaksin administration and all its successors. There will come a time when people will realize that you opened their eyes, that you all contributed to this major turning point in Thailand's history. In time, the rest of the nation will understand it, and come to acknowledge it, and even embrace it. For in embracing those we thought our enemies, we really embrace ourselves.