When the mighty sun shines brightly, what more can I do than just bask in its warmth and see the world with its light!  I have no capacity and merit to know what the light and heat are made up of.  It is only light and heat to my limited faculty.  Similarly, when a high peak overlooks the world from above all other hills and mountains with its elegant white top, what more can I do than just bow to its grandeur, admire its beauty, and be charmed by its radiance!  It is beyond my comprehension and imagination to know why this peak is so high above all the rest, yet I can see it from a few feet of my height.

I learnt that ‘Bhutan First’ is the theme for the 114th National Day and to me, this is similar to the sun and peak analogies I have penned above since it has come from the Royal Government, much above me.  I know I shall not be able to fathom the true essence behind the pronounced theme.  I can only have my version of its light and heat as I have felt in my humble body, speech and mind.  I believe anyone one of us can have our version and if it comes from the deep place of wisdom, and genuine concern for the nation and her future, our version will not be wrong.  I would encourage every Bhutanese to give a try to decipher the theme and align oneself.  I shall vouch that the fact that anyone gives it a thought can have a far-reaching effect of aligning everyone in the right direction, unified as one.

To start with, let us leave and bury a Bhutanese adage which roughly translates as ‘Lam is important, but I’m more important’ in the past.  This adage encourages people to distort their view of the importance of the Tsawa Sum because it insinuates that while the country is important, individuals are more important.  Let’s be clear.  If the house is safe, occupants are safe.  If only occupants are safe and the house is falling, none is safe.  If there is no home of one’s own, one is homeless and homeless people have no dignity.  Bhutan is our home which we proudly say ‘I am from Bhutan’ no matter where we go in the world.  There is enormous intrinsic satisfaction and pride, which one can only taste by being Bhutanese.  No one wants to forfeit this irreplaceable and quintessential intrinsic wealth, if asked.  But, are we doing everything right to ensure that it is safe?

Leaders are important and good leaders are foremost and they are indispensable raw (Oh no!), fine materials for building and ensuring a safe future.  A good leader is not a son, daughter, friend, and relative.  A good leader does not have a political party nor fellow party-members.  A good leader is not a high-ranking official nor does he/she have any affectionate or forced people at beck and call.  A good leader has none of these around him.  Yet, he/she has everyone around him.  A good leader is the one who can embrace everyone as his/her family.  A good leader is not from any constituency, but he/she is from Bhutan.  A good leader is a son or daughter of the Palden Drukpa and a loyal subject of the peerless Monarch first.  Everything else comes afterwards.  He/she is the voice and sentiments of the country, not just those of his/her party or constituents.  He/she is the ambassador of all future Bhutanese, and not just his/her own children and grandchildren.  He/she is one’s own future self because we could be coming back as part of our journey in the Samsara.

The Democratic Constitutional Monarchy is an enormous gift from the golden throne to the people of Bhutan.  This is the third democratically-elected government, and I am yet to figure out clearly if we are living upto the vision of His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo.  My modest observation through limited intellect and understanding is that this has been a battle between pot and kettle, each one calling the other black.  Every five years, we have had people debate with each other showcasing their prowess of speech pointing out what the other party has done wrong or could do, and that it would be different if they won and formed the government.  Each one has claimed they would do the right things and they would do things rightly.  Unfortunately, this has not remained hazy and they tend to fall back to the lame excuse that the former government did the same.  My only question is, didn’t you say it would be different?  Going forward, political masters must premise their campaign on ‘Bhutan First’ and follow through, not their constituency and constituents.  On the ground, people need to grow wiser and broader in terms of what they can expect from their elected members.  They are not decorated in blue scarf to build roads, recharge your internet data, fund your children’s education, etc.  They are the law-makers and the laws are for the entire nation.  If we get the laws correct, the rest will fall in place.

Just like politicians, all others are filled with ‘Bhutan First’ while seeking employment.  I definitely said things in this line when I gave my interview for selection into the Civil Service two decades back, and I am sure this was and has been the case with everyone.  That ‘I shall serve the Tsawa Sum with utmost integrity’ or ‘I shall serve the company with dedication’ if someone faced a company selection panel.  Only problem is not everyone sticks to their words.  They forget and their own lives become a priority due to which corruptions occur.  They lose their way and they lose their wisdom that the house must be secured first.  Perhaps they get wrongly influenced by the above-mentioned adage.  Perhaps, they, especially those like me who with humble background made it through various processes must uphold the spirits of integrity and for their sake be fair in discharging our duties and responsibilities.  I agree individuals are important, but not more than ones’ country and her laws, rules and norms.  Yes, we must enrich ourselves and it is our right.  However, it must be through hard work executed legally, and energy and endurance.  Not illegally.  Not through means of corruption.  Yes, we must seek to fulfill our political pledges but only as much as it is admissible within the extant laws and rules.

I am in no way any authority on what is wrong and right.  I am a humble citizen who is god-fearing and law-abiding.  My intellectual capacity is as humble as a worm’s.  But when the sky is smoky, I can tell there’s fire somewhere.  When the atmosphere is noisy, I know something has gone wrong.  Even when the hanging clouds have covered the whole place, I know that is not the sky.  Speeches may be delivered so eloquently, but people can tell if it is truthful, deceitful or circumventive.  We know when someone is living and walking ‘Bhutan First’ and when someone is not, and it is more visible when one is at a vantage point such as in the governance of a country, or a management of a company, etc.

All along, we have been advised to look at or follow good examples.  Where have we gone wrong that we have started to follow bad examples?  “Bhutan First” is such a profound and strategic theme for the nation’s birthday celebrations and there couldn’t be any better time than now.  It needs to start from the individual household or family and it should start with pursuing right values and doing right things.  I have said this in my previous writings and I wish to say this again.  If something is wrong when other people and parties do it, it should be wrong when we do it.  A path which we say is wrong for others to walk, it must be wrong for us  to tread too.  A black must be black, and white must be white for everyone.  There must not be another way.  Let’s not cheat, but respect each other.  Let’s not sabotage Bhutan and her future, but secure it tightly.  Let’s have the courage for integrity.

Contributed by 

Namgay Wangchuk