The events that unfolded towards the end of Trump’s presidency in the United States of America (USA) was at best ugly and at worst dangerous.  The world’s oldest democracy was the world’s biggest stage where the world watched in awe and disbelief, an unprecedented political drama, and wondered what on earth was happening there.  It was definitely more disconcerting to the few who have friends and families there, and those who have visited the USA (me included).

We have witnessed both the ugly as well as exquisite sides of democracy.  If because of democracy Mr. Trump was elected, it is because of the same that he has been now removed.  One lesson I understood from the events that unfolded in the USA is the criticality of how the mass must be intelligent, educated, informed, and able to filter right from wrong, strengths from weaknesses, in the true sense of patriotism.  Neither the Party-affiliation nor loyalty to an individual.  I remember clearly what His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo commanded during His tours around the country on The Constitution in the early years of 2000.  The purpose of institutionalizing a constitutional democracy was aimed at electing and installing the right people in leadership positions. So, it is all good if the democracy is supported by collective wisdom, not collective ignorance.

For a small country like ours, I find it highly vital to always be united as one.  The importance of unity was made luminously clear as the northern star by His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo during His coronation in 1974 when He pronounced that we should all “consider ourselves Bhutanese, and think and act as one”. Similarly, His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo has been repeatedly emphasizing on how important it is to be united towards the common cause of Gross National Happiness and the future of Bhutan.

In March 2020, the pandemic of Covid-19 caused by the novel coronavirus landed its dark step in Bhutan and as the Royal Government resorted to national lockdown in August 2020, the Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) started a show titled ‘Chik-thuen’.  It was a show premised on a well-intended objective to keep the people entertained during the lockdown while enabling and encouraging everyone to work towards preventing and containing the spread of the virus.  However, I am afraid that in the future there might be Bhutanese for whom Chikthuen might just mean a BBS show.  If that happens, we will have all failed to a good extent in making ourselves understand one fundamental tenet of a nation, which is UNITY.

Let’s remind ourselves before it is too late that Chikthuen means much more than a show.  It is so much deeper and more profound.  It is the calm depth of the ocean that holds the ocean firm in its place irrespective of the violent and hostile waves on the surface.  It is the strong roots of a tree which are well grounded deep into the earth holding it strongly against the ghastly winds.  It is the vast blue sky maintaining its splendour and high ground no matter how the weather on the earth may try to discolour and dim it.  It is the very precious psyche that binds us all as one, ‘thinking and acting as one’.

There are many ways how we can pursue and abide by that psyche – different ways for those who know and for those who don’t.  First, which is very easy is to listen to His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo and align all our thoughts and actions accordingly.  All our hereditary Monarchs have been insightful, farsighted and have ably and unarguably steered the country towards the right directions.  Each word pronounced by His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo comes out from a most compassionate heart replete with care and concern for the future of the country and people, and directed to a vision of a better and stronger Bhutan. Even by vetting our thoughts and actions through a filter by asking ourselves if what I am thinking and doing would impress His Majesty would contribute to unity without a speck of doubt. Second, especially for those who are educated, knowledgeable and well-read, is to align to the laws and regulations, plans and policies of the Royal Government of Bhutan.  Understanding the guiding philosophy of Gross National Happiness and thinking and acting accordingly would be far-reaching.  Such citizens may even help the rest in envisioning a brighter and better future for the country, share ideas and encourage others to also understand it, in the truest sense of selflessness and larger national interest.  Third, which is extremely easy is to remember the basic premise of Buddhism the law of Tha Damtsig Ley Jumdrey, and think and act accordingly.

Exactly as the maxim ‘charity begins at home’ teaches, the Chikthuen must also begin at home.  Parents must responsibly put the right values in children and encourage them to uphold Chikthuen at the highest level of the nation (at least).  When members of such families go out into the worlds of education and learning, friendships and social circles, works and careers, and leadership and positions, the value of Chikthuen along with others would strongly guide each one towards the direction that is in the interest of more than those of individuals or groups.  It is critical at the levels of the government, political parties, agencies and institutions, Dzongkhags and Gewogs, communities and households, and each individual Bhutanese.  In such an environment, we will not have to worry about a bad political party exercising bad governance, corrupt people occupying solemn positions, individuals breaking laws for selfish gains, etc.  Chikthuen has been the very fibre that has held us strongly together as a nation thus far and it is going to be the lynchpin going forward in order to survive and shine as a country.

So, when the pandemic has become a thing of the past and the BBS has stopped airing the show, let us not forget Chikthuen.  If a person is living due to a life-force called soul (sok), let’s not forget the sok of a nation.  The Chikthuen.  Unity.

Contributed by 

Namgay Wangchuk

BoB, Thimphu