Together Thailand Stands


Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand – Dozens of traumatized, battered and tragedy-stricken Thais are gathered outside a morgue. They sit in flimsy chairs, and they sit with the understanding of what awaits them indoors. Their loved ones lie dead; forever gone from a world where a soldier has enough anger in his heart to end the lifetime of 29 strangers in a shopping mall. Those killed leave their relatives in a permanent state of after– where their families and country will have to adapt to a reality colored that much darker, absent of the light of 29 beautiful souls. 


If there is unity in tragedy, the citizens of Nakhon Ratchasima know it. In colorful assortments of people, ranging from Buddhist monks draped in strikingly orange tunics, to city dwellers who come long and far in hopes of finding some consolation in the soul-wrenching situation of a mourning country; hundreds of Thais gather at a vigil. It is remarkably tragic and purposeful, an astounding distinction from the chaos that enfolded in the city just days prior. “Everyone was terrified,” shooting survivor Chanathip Somsakul explains. Other survivors recall the horrifying determination of the shooter. “(He) was shooting everywhere and his shots were very precise,” one Thai told reporters. 


The devastation of the actual attack is rendered small only in comparison to its aftermath, where the victim’s families now have to confront a life absent of those they cherish. “He’s my only son,” Natthawut Karnchanamethee lamented, whose 13-year-old son was among those killed, “I never set expectations for him. I only wanted him to be a good person.” Karnchanamethee also declared that he “didn’t want to lose him (his son) like this.” To lose a child is an unspeakable affair with any circumstance, but to have it done as a result of one’s irrelevant and unquelled rage only establishes a new level of grief.


For the rest of the world, mass shootings aren’t anything new. There are even the more pessimistic among humanity who state that the acts of violence are unavoidable, a grim aspect of life that is both tragic and unsolvable. Yet this sentiment would be hard to parrot to the now childless father who can’t seem to understand why, the young woman who traveled from Bangkok to collect the body of her brother, and the sister who texted her sibling until the conversation was stopped by a single bullet. Because for the victims and their families, it is not enough to be complicit with such atrocities. We need to do better. For Thailand, and every other innocent human being that was made no more by the world’s inability to stop such pointless violence.