THE MALAISE THAT RUNS DEEPER
Within the month of May, local media reported two incidences in the Capital when 15 individuals in the first and 14 in the second were arrested for gambling. These groups represented a cross-section of the society including both men and women, and were as varied in occupation as civil servants, businessmen, and taxi drivers to housewives and some unemployed.
Last heard, the cases were forwarded to the district court and a few had also availed bail. What do these incidents teach? For one, it speaks volumes about the Bhutanese society, which is rather proud of being a nation that claims to be a torchbearer of “unmaterialistic” values.
Of late, we have been talking on the ills plaguing our rural backwaters such as rural-urban migration resulting in gungtongs, human-wildlife conflict, and economic deprivation of people living back in the villages. In the wake of all this, let us not ignore the fact that major, if not greater evils threaten the urban hubs and cities as well.
One such example is the very pertinent issue of gambling. It is common knowledge that gambling is very much in practice especially in urban centers like Thimphu. It is also common knowledge that the Penal Code defines gambling as an offence, more specifically, a petty misdemeanor deserving of prison terms ranging from a month to a year.
Then, why is it that some people gamble obsessively, putting to stake their hard-earned money and sometimes properties? Why do they go to any extent possible to gamble when they know they run the risk of losing everything they possess, including wealth, health, livelihood, and reputation? Why do they borrow from loan sharks to gamble even more when they have lost everything?
We might be looking at a malaise that runs deeper than just the adrenaline rush craze of pocketing big wins or greed fueled by fast cash. Going to the root of the problem, we are looking at what happens when a sense of purpose in life is replaced by empty pursuits such as materialism, hedonism, power and so on. In some cases, seemingly good pursuits like work become excessive when a person turns work-alcoholic and has no time for himself, family or healthy recreation.
Human beings cannot turn away from something without turning to something. That is how they function. That is their basic make-up. If they lack a sense of direction, a worthy purpose or goal, they will ultimately destroy themselves by filling their lives with clutter and junk.
To think of it, why do substance abusers and alcoholics relapse time and again into their old, destructive habits knowing full well that the consequences will be hellish? Why do they even start? Why do obese people indulge excessively in food and binge when they are on diet? Why do obsessive shoppers splurge on credit? Why do people whom we would deem above average looking and even gorgeous opt for plastic surgery? Conversely, why do people hoard? Why do they fail to shell out a single chetrum for charity or a good cause?
It all boils down to what chiefly occupies a human being. If due to lack of proper upbringing, guidance, conditioning, and education, an individual has a skewed vision or a wrong, deficient set of values and principles, it will manifest in his character and behavior. In this respect, nobody is perfect, but everybody needs to keep trying and grow into the best possible version of themselves.
This is the primary reason why everyone deserves and should have a worthy purpose in life. It does no good if talent, energy and resources are wasted due to lack of purpose. This is also why instilling and cultivating values and principles are so very important, whether a person is young or old.Often, we need a whole paradigm shift. And often, we do not regret the fact that we have erred as much as that we have been caught in the act.
Ever pondered that we can die not only when our physical bodies give up but when our inner, conscientious and creative being extinguishes as well?