Why GNH is a dream worth pursuing?
“If happiness is the main value a GNH state tries to promote, the institutional structures and processes of a society must reflect this value. Yet it is very challenging to even envision what a GNH state would be like.”-Jigmey Y Thrinley.
Gross national happiness is struck somewhere on its way to becoming a global developmental philosophy. This is not because of the lack of interest and support from outside the country, but from the lack of faith in the enlightened philosophy from within Bhutan itself. People have come to believe that GNH is not moving beyond research papers and books published on the subject. GNH, people imagine as an attractive philosophy which is difficult to implement in practice. GNH is like poetry, so people think. But I feel, we are being a bit impatient. We Bhutanese have a nature of looking for short cut in any situation. But in this case there is no shortcut. Gross national happiness is still in developmental phase. It needs more in-depth research and studies. It is too early for us to discard the GNH approach. There are very few indigenous GNH researchers and scholars from Bhutan. But on the contrary, foreign scholars like Michael and Martha Pennock have shown more interest in devising research methodologies for GNH measurement.
Majority of Bhutanese people still believe in GNH. There is a small section of people who argue that it is better to focus on solving current issues rather than trying to develop and promote GNH. I think GNH is a dream worth pursuing. Firstly, it is based on the holistic approach of promoting happiness along with material development. Imagine a world where there are no basic human values like compassion and kindness. From our own experience and from the experienced of highly developed countries, we know without doubt that being rich does not necessarily mean you are happy. In order to make a happy society we don’t just need money but we also need respect for basic human values. GNH in principle encompasses all the factors for assuring happiness to the citizens.
Recently I was shocked to see a video of a Chinese man eating the flesh of another man on a highway. It took me some time to believe such things can happen. You must, have not so long ago, read a Chinese mother selling her own child to buy apple iphone. You must have also heard of countless such incidents occurring mostly in highly industrialized and developed countries. We can infer many lessons from these inhumane incidents. Such barbaric acts are symptoms of promoting materialism as the sole purpose of living. Now, our country is still on the way of development. We have ample of time to at least try and implement Gross National Happiness, so that we do not regret later. Actually we are at the very precise time in the history of our national development to implement GNH. This decision will decide how Bhutan will be in the next few centuries. This is the second reason why I believe GNH is a dream worth pursuing.
Thirdly, Bhutan has been relatively a peaceful country from centuries. This is mainly due to our culture of nonviolence and respect for humanity. In this age of science and technology, we can no more follow a path of isolation like we did before. We have to adapt to changes and cope up with the rest of the world. This is only possible through economic development. But with development comes a bag of disadvantages. The philosophy of gross national happiness if applied can be the antidote for the disadvantages that comes along with material advancement. Pursuing the GNH dream will benefit in the long run. A hundred years from today, even if we fail to make GNH dream a reality, we would have at least started a cult of trying and promoting happiness as a national goal. Glories to Palden Drukpa!!!