The 86th birthday today of Thailand's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej is guaranteed to halt disruptive anti-government street protests. But just as the pause button on a movie is pressed, the respite for Southeast Asia's second-biggest economy will be brief and the increasingly violent agitation to bring down Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's administration will resume unabated. The discord and disruptions are not what the nation's 67 million people, its businesses and investors want or need. Politicians on both sides of the divide, students and others struggling for power, while joining Thais in wishing the monarch well, should also use the occasion to reflect on how to better chart a way forward. There is no other way ahead if Thailand is to overcome years of political strife. Yet that has not been the chief goal of the majority of politicians, who have placed self-interest ahead of the country's well-being. Yingluck's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, deposed in a coup in 2006 and convicted of abusing his power but hugely popular in the rural north and northeast, runs the government by remote control from exile in Dubai. His opponents, backed by the urban and business elite, have for the past decade focused energies on crushing his political influence. The hatred on both sides has become obsessive, hindering policies to improve the country's future. The king is in poor health and his son and heir apparent, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, has called for divisions to be healed through dialogue. But protest leader and former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban has rejected such an idea and called for Yingluck's government to be replaced by an unelected council. Her efforts to reach out for talks have been snubbed. The military, behind nine coups since the king took power in 1946, has pledged to stay out of politics. Yingluck has paid more heed to rehabilitating her brother than lessening corruption. Her opponents have been more interested in spreading loathing than constructive policies. The birthday pause is a chance for them to get their priorities right.