Saturday, April 4, 2009

Gross National Happiness and Jordan

In 2001 I moved back to Amman after having lived for over 15 years overseas. My move came with the absolute conviction that I was doing the right thing. I never regretted my decision. In fact I always felt fortunate for having the choice to do so.

Coming back with me home was a feeling of romanticism of how things are done here in Jordan. What many perceived as retarded customs or invasive traditions, I was so willing to consider as simply part of the culture. I guess this was due to the fact that I had lived in many different so called developed societies that were far from being perfect or developed in the human sense. My attitude when I moved back was one of empathy and an unconditional acceptance of the way our society is run.

It is only lately that I am starting to feel suffocated by the pathetic state I find our society in. I suddenly realize that in our quest for development we have lost sight of what really matters while consistently failing to preserve anything of meaning. Instead, we have opted to hold on to false claims of entitlement only to legitimize a debilitating general state of laziness and demoralization that the majority seems to be suffering from. It has been extremely hard for me to come face to face with the ugly truth that our situation today is at best pathetic and at worst mediocre.

The disconnect that I am seeing among the various strata of our society is a further evidence of how a whole nation can live in denial and turn a blind eye waiting for some magic wand to come and do the job for it. In general, I feel that the majority of people are unhappy and feel alienated for many reasons. The end result is that we happen to be a bunch of disconnected class groups who have nothing in common except for one thing: We all seem miserable and unhappy.

What is behind this unhappiness? I am no expert on this. However, I recently learnt about a measure that was started in Bhutan and that has gained some merit lately: Gross National Happiness (GNH). GNH is an attempt to define quality of life in more holistic and psychological terms than Gross National Product. “While conventional development models stress economic growth as the ultimate objective, the concept of GNH claims to be based on the premise that true development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other. The four pillars of GNH are:

1. The promotion of equitable and sustainable socio-economic development
2. Preservation and promotion of cultural values
3. Conservation of the natural environment
4. Establishment of good governance”

One question I will leave you with: How does Jordan score on the above four pillars?

On that note, I rest my case.


kinzi said...

Tallouza, come on over for some brownies to cheer you up. Temporarily, anyway.

I'm sorry. Hang in there.

Tallouza said...

Hey Kinzi...Long time. I hope all is well with you. Please do not get me wrong (even though it is difficult considering what I wrote). I feel perfectly fine and somewhat happy. I feel people are overwhelmed and can no longer keep up with the pressures of life and fast pace changes on all levels happening around us. I am sometimes accused of living in my own bubble, and maybe this is why I can claim sanity in such crazy times. By the way someone commented to me over the phone that this is not only Jordan, it seems it is the case in many parts of the world. Maybe so, I can only speak for what I witness on daily basis. I will take a rain check for the brownies :-)

Marvin the Martian said...

Yah, you and Ali ( Definitely some disappointments being aired. That's sad! One wants to believe, and it's so hard when all the evidence shows that one's faith is misplaced.