Haha. Just kidding. But I will say some or most of their ideas may help save the world. Renewable energy, sustainable development, responsible tourism and, through Buddhism, a belief we are all interconnected. Now if they can just lay off the rice a little bit…
I completed my journey on the shittiest road on the planet. Bhutan is turning their one lane road from west to east into a two lane road. The interim step is basically a one lane road, dirt, meandering thru mountains and over a dozen passes higher than say 13000 feet. No small task. I’m gonna say from Thimphu, the largest city, to Samdrup where I crossed from India, is like 475 miles. It took me 40 hours, all in bus or shared taxi. Except for the last 4 hours with Chhimi and his family. Do the math. Chhimi says it will be done next year. Those Buddhists! Positive thinking!
The amazing thing about their society is they make a conscious effort to utilize the good in the world and try to shield the communities from the bad.
Now, let me explain how this utopian approach is the perfect storm. They’ve only had TV since 1999, they have the ultimate consumer in India as a neighbor to buy their green energy and stimulate the economy, and they wisely implemented high value/low impact tourism. The goal being to bring money into the country while preserving their cultural uniqueness. It also keeps dirty broke backpackers from laying around here forever. If you’ve ever experienced that type of travel, it’s fun, interesting, and never dull. But it can get old and rot communities. Imagine 200 Israeli backpackers, fresh out of the military, creating a little Jerusalem in Goa India (or Lake Atitlan in Guatemala for that matter), setting up shop for months to scrounge on 10 bucks a day. Not picking on them, but you’ve all met a group like them or from another country that move in and screw up the economics. I digress. Sorry.
So I wish I had longer in the east as I loved it and WAS THE ONLY TOURIST! So great. Even the sore butt from sitting.
Chhimi and his family picked me up in Phobjigan, an isolated Hamlet with rolling hills and the winter home of the endangered black neck cranes. Saw an injured one in captivity. Beautiful animals. There are also Himalayan bears, yaks, and leopards.
We stayed in another nice hotel as again, they are creating this model of comfy tourism around cultural uniqueness. Then we had a home cooked meal at one of the homestays.
So Bhutan is taking an active stance of spreading the wealth and redirecting the pipe of money to create sustainable development in rural communities. What. A. Concept. You mean Jeffrey Bezos isn’t creating a supply chain model to have cheap rice delivered by drone there? No.
And that is perhaps the single most important point in this whole rant during my travels here. Buddhism believes in the interdependent nature of all beings. You hurt. I hurt. You thrive I thrive. There is a WE surrounding ME. Essentially. And it is the prism, the undercurrent from which all their thoughts and actions arise. I thank my girlfriend Pandora for helping me come to that conclusion today while discussing this.
More importantly, even though they have an open and free economy, from the top down it’s “hey, how do we all thrive and what programs can we put in place to give EVERYONE a chance.” Collectively.
That of course is the exact opposite mentality of many Americans. In particular the orange man in the White House. His “I’m gonna take daddy’s money and parlay it into way more through bullying, lawyering and overall self promotion and bullshit. I win. You lose. Always. AND I’m gonna do my best to constantly show off my gaudy unnecessary shit while i only play nice with people that share MY goal. Which is to make me look better and feed my massive ego to likely overcompensate for my small… soul.”
You may have voted for him. And I’m not gonna not be your friend because you still support him. But if you did and do, your brain and soul are both in question. The man embodies every single thing I
struggle with as an American. You may say “screw you Bob, go live somewhere else or try to affect change.” Well I have tried and just because I can honestly critique my country and myself (because I am in no way above and beyond reproach), does not make me unpatriotic or whatever other stupid classification one may throw on me for pointing out our completely fucked up culture and whacked out priorities. And our willful ignorance when they are presented to us. Rant completed.
Back to Buddhism. The King abdicated his power to create a Democracy about ten years ago. Imagine that. You can believe in free markets, being rich or having a lot. But if you don’t believe we ALL benefit by a healthy complete total community, a healthy environment and a just world, and work in some small way every day to move our collective consciousness in that direction, in any way YOU see fit, not me. Well. You’re your own judge. I’m just asking the questions. Kadrin chey