Ever since Tho has taken up the task of Program Coordinator for the GNH Centre in Bhutan, I am asked by many people to explain…what is GNH?
Specially when I was in Vietnam all my friends there
wanted to know what Tho is doing in Bhutan and what and why and how about GNH!
I try in my own understanding to explain the necessary shift from GDP to GNH and how Bhutan’s unique situation enables a sort of “laboratory”
of a new way to envision development.
Naomi and me met a young Chinese woman in Thailand. She came from Beijing and she studied Waldorf education in Bangkok.
Her description of life in Beijing was frightening! The
price the society has to pay for catching up with the GDP “race”and for being “on top” of economic growth seems much too high in terms of life quality and happiness.
She spoke about food, how many people are scared
to eat food as there are more and more cases of chemical food poisoning , to buy Chinese products, toys for their children as too many chemicals are used that people fear will endanger the health of their children, how people are so stressed and so caught
up in the “fight” for economic growth that they don’t even want to have children anymore, as children are too expensive, take up too much time, or that they cannot really envision marriage as buying a house, one of the requirements to get
a wife, becomes such a financial burden etc
Traffic jams, pollution, corruption, social inequality, all this seems to be the price to pay! Our new friend thought life in Bangkok was sweet and relaxed, compared to Beijing!
Vietnam I feel the race of always “more and more” is fuelling such greed and stress, that I truly feel saddened sometimes by the overpowering feeling that everyone is willing to sacrifice so much of their ideals, human values to the “altar”
of economic growth.
Corruption, greed, stress, poor life quality, stressful time, emotional health, health all together are some of the factors that suffer under the pressure of this illusion of the happiness of the always more consumption!
So will Bhutan succeed in showing another way?
Of course everyone want’s to live “well”, have comfort, security for their family, enough to eat, a good place to live, being able to travel, to develop
I also see that most of my Vietnamese friends do live much “better” than before, have washing machines, a fridge, a motorbike…all these things that make every day life so much easier.
of my Vietnamese friends have been able to travel abroad and could enjoy a certain freedom, things unthinkable 10 years ago,
But how can this development of a materially better life go in pair with a humanly, environmentally, spiritually
“better” life. A life more aware and more respectful of our impact on environment and on all living species, a life more respectful of the needs of children, of family life, of elderly people, of time for family and friends, respectful of
each one’s inner development and spiritual life, a life in tune with our needs of good governance and respect of human values, with a lifelong learning approach, with respect for our health and a life cultivating our traditions and culture as an important
factor to everyone’s well being,
To envision development as a WHOLE and not only from the economical development, but the economy as being one factor of many others that bring about happiness and wellbeing, this is a GNH society,
is how I describe the attempt of GNH to think and to implement new ways of envisioning development.
It is worth a try, isn’t it?