Thursday, February 19, 2015
Searching for Wisdom
"Why do people promise to meet at the first snow? Why so happy at the first snow? Maybe because those that love are waiting for the first snow." These are the words of a Korean poem that the columnist uses to introduce his column: The Wisdom we can learn from Bhutan. The columnist a university president writing on the opinion page, of the Catholic Times, believes Bhutan has something to teach.
There is something romantic about the first snow fall. And in the small country of Bhutan, with 700 thousand citizens, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas, the fairytale-like land proclaims a national holiday at the first snow. National income is 2,300 dollars per capita, and yet 97 citizens out of 100 consider themselves happy. One of the happiest countries in the world.
In 1972 the government considering their culture and environment has made it their philosophy to enhance the life of the citizens with a just distribution of the wealth. This progressiveness relates not only with economics but also with the environment; they are determined not to do anything to destroy the ecology of the country. The point of reference is the happiness level of the people not the amount of money each citizen has to spend. They will find ways to make education and health free for the people in their constitution. Bhutan is the first country in the world that has made
Gross National Happiness (GNH) as their point of departure instead of the Gross National Product (GNP).
The columnist feels our present economic model is not person orientated and builds a culture of death. We are destroying our environment and our traditional communities. The polarization of the "haves" and "have-nots" is getting larger and society less secure. Our 'new-liberal' social structures allow many of the poor to get caught in a trap from which they can not escape.
In 2011 the young people fought against the economic insecurity and corruption by occupying Wall Street. A movement that spread worldwide. The strong American welfare safety-net began to disappear, and tragedies followed tragedies in the use of guns and killings. The United States is a super power but not an advanced society, according to the columnist-- a nation exists for the happiness of the citizens.
Pope Francis has attacked unfettered capitalism as a new tyranny. A model in opposition to the dignity of the person, and producing the culture of death. Capitalism is one of the biggest revolutions in the world, and a challenge to Christianity. We need a new paradigm that will have happiness for the foundation in the use of money."I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation." These words of St. Paul should fill us with a feeling of gratitude. We who have received an abundance from Jesus should be able to live in the spirit of poverty. Would not this be a rightful understanding of the blessings received? Happy Lunar New Year!