THE MALAISE THAT RUNS DEEPER

Business Bhutan - - Editorial - Please send your opin­ions and com­men­taries to busi­ness­b­hutan@gmail.com P.O BOX 1190 CHANGZAMTOK, THIM­PHU

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?

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