Be the change we want to see

Business Bhutan - - Editoria -

We stand at a cru­cial junc­ture of age and time.

Sixty per­cent of Bhutan’s pop­u­la­tion is be­low the age of 25. While this is a pos­i­tive force to con­trib­ute to de­vel­op­ment, we are faced with the ugly re­al­i­ties that come with it namely high un­em­ploy­ment rate, sex­ual and re­pro­duc­tive health is­sues and sub­stance abuse among oth­ers.

In the past three years, more than 2,500 drug abusers were nabbed of which 44% were youth. This is an alarm­ing sign. We see bro­ken fam­i­lies and youth suf­fer­ing the ef­fects. They re­sort to un­healthy cop­ing mech­a­nisms and drugs is just one of them. Oth­ers in­clude vi­o­lence, re­bel­lion and var­i­ous crimes.

Bhutan also has one of the high­est sui­cide rates in the re­gion which is an anom­aly to its GNH image. What then can we make of all this?

It boils down to this: that gloss­ing over the state of our youth and paint­ing an all is well, rosy pic­ture of the state of the coun­try won’t do. Sure, we have to keep the tourism in­dus­try alive but we have to keep our peo­ple alive, too.

We are a peo­ple that have steadily de­vel­oped a Shangrila ef­fect of some sort. We have be­come so used to pro­ject­ing our­selves as a happy, per­fect na­tion that we ac­tu­ally be­lieve it. This is sheer folly.

By all ac­counts we do en­joy a de­gree of sta­bil­ity and peace than other coun­tries that are wrecked by ter­ror­ism, war, poverty, dis­ease and so on but why com­pare our­selves to the worst when we can con­stantly try to bet­ter our­selves by com­par­ing to the best?

A fa­mous so­cial worker in Bhutan once said that the first thing for the Bhutanese is ego, the sec­ond ego and the third ego. The par­ents of a child who is se­verely sui­ci­dal won’t seek help be­cause they fear their rep­u­ta­tion will be smeared. A youth who is on the verge of los­ing his life due to drug abuse won’t get sup­port from his fam­ily if he wants to go to a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­ter be­cause they fear stigma. Par­ents will be busy gam­bling or drink­ing in bars while chil­dren strug­gle to tide through the night with scraps of left over from lunch. It is a sad state of af­fairs in­deed.

High divorce rates re­sult­ing from promis­cu­ity and ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fairs break homes and it seems to have be­come the norm in Bhutan. No­body blinks when you say that a cou­ple has sep­a­rated. No­body seems to care that un­mon­i­tored youth in­dulge in pre­mar­i­tal sex and scar them­selves emo­tion­ally and some­times phys­i­cally for life. No­body seems to care that care­tak­ers have be­come preda­tors, that rel­a­tives and fam­ily mem­bers are mo­lest­ing and abus­ing our youth and they will never be the same again, that their child­hood has been robbed of in­no­cence, ten­der­ness and joy.

Then as more bars and dis­cothe­ques and drayangs crop up than book stores, li­braries and recre­ational cen­ters, peo­ple will ask what ails our youth. They will start point­ing fingers at each other. They will point fingers at the gov­ern­ment. They will play the blame game.

But if we look at our­selves, we will know the an­swer. Are we as in­di­vid­u­als, fam­ily and so­ci­ety be­ing mod­els for youth? Are we lead­ing ex­em­plary lives? Are we be­ing a source of in­spi­ra­tion to them? To strive for ev­ery­thing that is good and great and no­ble? Do we set per­sonal bench­marks for our per­sonal and pub­lic con­duct so that peo­ple who see and ob­serve us on a daily ba­sis can be mo­ti­vated to be and do their best in ev­ery as­pect of life?

Or have we be­come so slack, blind and judg­men­tal that we keep pass­ing the buck, pro­cras­ti­nat­ing and liv­ing care­lessly and have be­come a tes­ti­mony of sheer fail­ure and mis­man­age­ment of our tal­ent and re­sources?

We must un­der­stand that youth im­i­tate and we must give them some­thing wor­thy to im­i­tate. We can­not change oth­ers un­less we change our­selves. Stand­ing on a moral high stool and preach­ing won’t do. We must be­come the change we want to see.

And this in­cludes cul­ti­vat­ing a ster­ling char­ac­ter built on the bedrock of time tested val­ues and prin­ci­ples.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Bhutan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.