As a young boy, I had heard a humble elderly relative remark “I’m sure I’m better than those who go to Dorji Dhen”. Those days, very few families from any community could afford going on pilgrimage to Dorji Dhen (Bodh Gaya). Coincidently, most of those were quite vocal and influential in the community, often quite arrogant who would not mind wrangling in the public, and humiliate anyone who would oppose them. I observed. They had to be right. So, the point was ‘how did the pilgrimage to Dorji Dhen improve their ways of thinking, working and living?”
I find this relevant more than ever today. Many Bhutanese go abroad to study but only a few returning committed to serving the Tsawa Sum. From amongst those, only a few come back as improved version in knowledge, skills and attitude. Many tend to only bring back photos on the beaches and in front of skyscrapers, and some arrogance of having been abroad. Not much of the knowledge and wisdom, which is evident in their announcement “when I was in the US, Japan, Australia, etc.” without necessarily proposing any substantive idea. Not long ago, I had heard of a comment someone made of someone else he knew upon learning that the person had left for further studies in the US, “he’ll not improve even if he goes to the moon”.
Why is this happening? Why do trainings not train people? Why are we back at square one despite attending numerous leadership trainings? The brilliant ideas we heard and most valid feedback we received during the training, which we most enthusiastically nodded at the time disappear as an art on water. We only have the colourful certificates, some more new faces and numbers in our contact list, and social media updates. As individuals, leaders, citizens, and responsible office bearers, we hardly change for the better. Back when I was in the college, a senior national language lecturer used to unequivocally claim “it’s not true I do not know English. I did not learn English.” Here we are sticking to “c=constant” despite attending numerous trainings, ex-country trips, and long experiences. The problem I think is that most of us tend to think “I am fine. Others need to change”.
If this constancy continues, it is quite likely that we will have just one good citizen and 700,000 tyrannical kings, voraciously fighting for selfish interests, looking to expand our own empires. We look at His Majesty’s photos from touring the length and breadth of the country wherein His Majesty has become much weak. Every citizen beholds these photos feeling much pained. I am sure many have even shed tears because the emotions that follow are intense. Why not! I noticed many shared the photo on social media expressing deep feelings and thoughts. All good.
However, how many of us have actually translated those emotions into actions! How many more business owners (especially bars and restaurants) have ensured their doors are locked at or before 9 PM? How many secret bars that ran into the wee hours have stopped? How many of those patrons have stopped visiting such ‘blind pig’? How many loan interest waiver receivers who did not need it have come forward and declared ‘I don’t need it’? How many smugglers along the borders have stopped their illegal and dangerous acts? How many of us have stopped leaving our trash behind? How many wholesalers who availed the soft loan for stocking actually spent the loan for the intended purpose? How many rich people are thinking ‘it’s enough now. I want to help the community and poor people’ instead of being on the hunt for more wealth? How many of us have become more responsible? How many of us have become more aligned with His Majesty The King?
It is quite funny as well as sad to see people posting and sharing photos from attending religious and spiritual discourses. Similarly, of those from pilgrimages to various sacred places. People say that a picture speaks a thousand words. I beg to disagree a bit. Not all the time. One may have posed in front of the world’s most prestigious university or within it. One may have shaken hands with great personalities, those refined human beings. All these are great, but these are only the path. The real deal is in actually thinking, working and living in a way that is a bit more refined. Refined in a way that we are concerned about the long-term vision as a nation. Refined for the nation-building.
How many of us are concerned and hence our thoughts and actions aligned to the long-term flourishing of the country? With party politics having been in our history for about 13 years now, how many of us are thinking beyond party politics and winning the elections, into the realm of nation-building and its long-term survival? If someone has breached the law, how many families of such perpetrators have stopped going after the law-enforcers or influential personalities? Why cannot we let the law take its course? Why do we think that only others are villains when the break the law while we continue to be hero despite breaking the same law? Why the same words and meaning conveyed by one party is right but when another party says it, it is wrong? I am assuming that the number of court cases is not decreasing. Why is this happening in the land of Buddha Dharma?
With increasing external influences freely available, how many of us are worried about the survival of our language and culture? The number of people saying ‘I am weak in Dzongkha’ without a remorse is increasing and it is sense-numbing. It definitely is more prevalent among the elites but even the others are picking up in their pursuit for inclusion. I have noticed that kids of modest job holders are using English and parents, with much difficulty are trying to reciprocate instead of emphasizing our national language or ones’ mother tongue. Driglam Namzha is becoming a thing of the past as I observe more and more youngsters who cannot even bow appropriately. I believe Driglam Namzha should not be left to the Department of Culture alone, but they should train and certify people to multiply the effects. The national television has started airing shows where both guests and presenters are imitating demeanours from BBC or CNN. I for one would think that we should be mindful that our audience is not the same as theirs and that we have our own culture and etiquette. When foreigners are being Bhutanese while in Bhutan, some of us are not being Bhutanese at times.
We have been saying ‘we are unique’. Why not we be aligned to being unique at least in some of these imperative areas! Finally, we are a small nation with limited resources. Let’s consume responsibly. Let’s not buy things that are unnecessary just because we can afford. Let’s not throw money to richer countries. Let’s remember that the future generations include ourselves, those of us who are sojourning now because we are going to be reborn in one form or the other depending upon our merits. Let’s think and act in a way that our identity and sovereignty is safeguarded. There is no other way.
Contributed by Namgay Wangchuk