Money Can't Buy Happiness Essay

1614 words - 6 pages

“The Seven Social Sins are:
Wealth without work.
Pleasure without conscience.
Knowledge without character.
Commerce without morality.
Science without humanity.
Worship without sacrifice.
Politics without principle."
-- Mahatma Gandhi

     The Kingdom of Bhutan is pursuing a bold new social experiment. They want to demonstrate that a spartan rural society join the high-tech world without surrendering its soul. [1] Bhutan is an extraordinary place; seemingly untouched through the course of time. Resting in the heart of the Himalayas, it has remained in self-imposed detachment for centuries, apart from the rest of the world. "Since its doors were cautiously opened in 1974, visitors have been mesmerized: the environment is pristine, the scenery and architecture are awesome, the people are hospitable and charming, and the culture unique in its purity." [2]
     "Despite the huge potential of its natural resources, Bhutan emerged as one of Asia's poorest countries, shunning the 'profit at all costs' mentality of the rest of the world. With one foot in the past and one in the future, it strolls confidently towards modernization, on its own terms, fiercely protecting its ancient culture, its natural resources and its deeply Buddhist way of life." [3]
     For the most part, the Kingdom of Bhutan has had remarkable success with its transition to becoming a relatively technological society. It is a nation which has also retained it culture and way of life in the process. Some scholars feel that in the United States, we have lost the more positive aspects of our culture, and thus, our "gross national happiness." This loss, apparently, is the cost of being a highly technological and consumption driven society. Americans are, by many measures, the most successful people ever known. Our enormously productive economy affords us luxuries beyond the wildest dreams of previous generations.
     However, this prosperity brings evidence of a different story. Our rising standard of living has not always resulted in a higher quality of life. Indeed, in many ways there has been an erosion in our sense of well-being, both for us as individuals and for us as a people. Our wealth has come with unforeseen costs: personal, social and environmental. We must ask ourselves, "Is this really the American dream?"
     The traditional American dream of opportunity, progress, and freedom speaks to the hearts of most people. Yet the recent "more is better" definition of the dream has many hidden costs. Our way of life depends on a continuous influx of the very commodities that are most damaging to the environment. This is particularly troubling since nearly every other nation in the world is emulating American consumption patterns. As global population increases and consumption skyrockets, we are rapidly depleting the planet's natural resources, degrading its renewable support systems of water, soil, and air, and producing more waste than the Earth and the...

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