Going off from my last two posts about Bangkok and America, I'd like to share with everybody the story of another great American. This man is named Jim Thompson.
Jim Thompson is proof that the only stories that make the press in America are bad ones. We like to talk about people who start wars and go about doing random acts of terrorism, but we never talk about people who do good things. Jim Thompson is a great man who has been sadly forgotten by Americans.
When David and I arrived in Bangkok, on our map we saw a landmark marked, "Jim Thompson's House." We both scratched our heads and wondered, "Um, who?" So we had to check it out.
Jim Thompson was a former CIA opperative who was active in Thailand. He fell in love with the country and later left the CIA and relocated permanetly to Bangkok. At that time Thailand was very modernized, and many traditional customs had been nearly forgotten. Of those were traditional Thai houses and the silk industry. Jim Thompson successfully revived both of those traditions.
Jim Thompson was not only interested in Thai houses and the silk trade, but also was an avid collector of Thai art. Today his house and art collection is maintained by the Jim Thompson Foundation. He is a local legend for the Thai people.
Sadly, in 1967 Jim Thompson dissappeared in a trek in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. Nobody knows what happened to him. Some people think he died there, while others think he faked his death and went into hiding. Jim Thompson is something of a Thai version of Elvis Pressley.
As Americans, we need to talk more about people like Jim Thompson. We talk too much about the bad things, like all the nations we've conquered, and forget the good stuff. I'm not saying we try to use the good stuff to cover up the bad, I'm just saying we need to look at things from a balanced perspective. Seeing somebody like Jim Thompson makes me proud to be an American. It shows that deep down we're not really about imperialism, but about kindness and friendship.