The pursuit of happiness

“All men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights, among these, are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”
– Thomas Jefferson, in the declaration of independence.
Thomas Jefferson is my favourite US president. He is also one of the rare men on earth who speak a lot of sense, if I may say so. Commenting on him sounds like blasphemy.
But I can’t help admiring the man, and wondering how come, in all the decades to follow, no one ever was like him. In America, that is. In Bhutan, we have His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo, who also spoke along the same lines, who introduced to the world the Philosophy of GNH.
Thomas Jefferson’s declaration of Independence may have been meant for America, and its status as a sovereign state independent from Britain, but to me, it reads like the affirmation of a truth, the truth that is the right of every man.
Every man has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Jefferson adds in the declaration, that, “to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
Why is it that the key to Utopia is so simple, yet no one sees it? His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo gave us many gifts during his reign, but he gave us two that were priceless above all. The philosophy of GNH, and democracy.
I believe that His Majesty chose this moment of time to introduce democracy upon us, because he felt that we are now ready. With most of the Bhutanese educated, with most of us aware and conscious of the outside world, we are now, after a hundred years of monarchy, ready to face the world on our own.
The history of Bhutan is like that of a human’s. We were children, teenagers and adolescents for a hundred years, brought up lovingly under the parenthood of our Kings, and now, we are grown up, taking the first adult steps of our lives. Like any good parent, our king has given us the basic philosophy by which to live, That of GNH.
I have heard a lot of discussions, a lot of speculations and questions on GNH. I have heard people joke that GNH is the measure of every Bhutanese persons grin. GNH, to the world and the Bhutanese, seems to be like the mysterious arctic lights, no one knows what they really are, but everyone is fascinated.
To me, GNH is not when every individual in the country is happy. The impossibility of that situation is probably what people complain about, those who say, “GNH is not achievable.”
To me, GNH is the possibility of every man to be happy. A country where every man can be happy, if he wishes to. GNH is the situation when every man can dream as high as he wants and there is nothing to stop him, when no government, organisation, body or individual violates his rights. Where he can rest assured that no one will violate his rights, thanks to a strong government, which exists to ensure this.
Thomas Jefferson’s ideal government was that which would ensure that no one, including itself, would violate the rights of any man. A new government of perhaps the most successful country began with such strong foundations.
We too, have been blessed with such great founding fathers. But they have handed over the nation to us. It is up to us, now, to ensure that we take it ahead in the right road. Into a nation, where, no matter what happens in the rest of the world, every man can enjoy the freedom to live their life in liberty, in pursuit of happiness.


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