Helping and consoling from neighbours and family members during the time of sickness and death, labour contribution during the construction of the houses, taking care of our parents, elders and relatives, visiting the neighbours and community festivals including social gatherings are few examples of integral part of daily Bhutanese life.
In the past, there are no mobiles or any easy mode of communications but a loud voice shouting from one of the neighbours is enough to alarm everyone during emergency and within no time there would be enough helping hands. It does not require any laws or bylaws but all happens with mere sense of belongings and concerns. A person knows what your neighbours are eating, wearing and daily household chorus. Sharing even a single piece of chilli you have, offering of tea and meals if you are there on time, chit chat and part of gossiping are part and parcel of life.
For me, I am grown up in rural hamlet called Bongo under Chukha Dzongkhag and remember my days back listening to folk stories from our elders, helping neighbours in grinding rice using the traditional methods which requires a labour force and hanging around in the night for so called “Night Hunting” (word loosely used in English for making Love in Rural Life). The life in my village is so wonderful that today, I question why the present youths are not being able to enjoy the same life. Youths no more leave in village and connection between older and younger generation are widening every year. Infact, it is a sad situation and we are taking up some initiatives to revitalize the community harmony that existed during our childhood days and works are in progress and praying that one day we would be able to live in same harmony that existed in past.
Sorry to mention that now everything is changing so fast and can’t believe even if ever it has to go at that pace nor convinced that everything happens for the best. I understand that the change is inevitable and for that matter even culture has to be dynamic and it needs changes with change in time but unfortunately experiences taught us other way round.
Now, the community harmony and peace we enjoyed are diminishing in all parts of country. If you don’t believe, go to west and developed Dzongkhags and gewogs of Paro, Wangdi, Haa and more. People has become quite individualism and economic oriented. The neighbour hoods were lost and instead replaced by economic competition and in process lost many of the values and peace we enjoyed. I don’t have impirical and scientific research to prove my claim, but for sure question yourself today why cooperatives and group never get succeed in our country? The government’s efforts to promote groups and cooperatives were not that smooth, I will not say that the programmes has completely failed but it is not also a success and primary reasons is lack of confidence and trust in eachother over the pursuit of individualism. Despite all the cooperatives act, laws and bylaws in place, there are very few success stories.
Sharing among the neighbours are no more, helping hands comes only on conditions, money talks to much, religious and celebrations become profit oriented and it should not be a surprise when I say I face difficulties meeting friends and near one in Thimphu and Phuentsholing. Everyone is busy and no one has time.
It is time now to reflect back and see, when in the past without all those cooperatives acts and bylaws when our forefathers could work in harmony, why not during our time? Why people don’t share anymore? Why time has become so important? And why money talks too much.
The answers are not simple and direct, so we cannot remain complacent for too long. It is time now to review and see where we are standing?