The respect North Americans have for their elderly is indeed pale compared with the high value placed upon the elderly in other cultures. Thai people show respect for the elderly and ancestral generation… Thai law does not allow men or women to sue their parents in court. To honor one’s parents throughout life is considered one of the highest virtues.
The social interaction in the Thai culture helps us to understand the Thai value concerning youth versus age as follows:
- An argument with parents or older persons are not encouraged and are sometimes prohibited;
- A younger person should not teach religion to an older person;
- A young man is able to teach religion to his or her own parents when his status changes from layman to Buddhist monk;
- Parents usually guide or make decisions on important matters for their children (For example, a young couple could not get married unless both sets of parents agree);
- On a bus, monks, women, children and old people usually have the seats. Others who occupy seats when these are standing should get up. (Mejudhon 2005, 163)
A young Christian should share with an older person politely but not with a teaching attitude. They should establish and maintain rapport with the family of the inquirer early. New converts should be encouraged to continue identification with their community. They should always be humble, loving, and responsible to their family. (Mejudhon 2005, 164)
Taken from the work of Dr. Nantachai Mejudhon who summarized Fieg’s work in an article that was published in Sharing Jesus Effectively with the Buddhist World.
Implications for a missionary:
- This would be a lot the same for any wise young person in America. You are an idiot if you disrespect the older people.
- Make young people the focus of your ministry.
- Use the example of a young monk teaching an older person if told not to teach older people.