You are what you speak.
We have come to understand in our postmodern age very well that words can betray your ideology. For example, Hegelian view on history on as a series of thesis, antithesis and synthesis reveals a preference to the idea of progress as something unidirectional and upward, when it is that goes both ways and possibly more. The very word ‘progress’ shows this. Or the Structuralists’s liking for concrete descriptions and fixity. Roland Barthes try as he may to go beyond the the restrictions of talking about things in terms of codes only gets stuck in the terminology which lack freedom.
This understanding is nothing new, of course. We have stuggled with this problem, seen through it, and returned to blindness by forgetfulness by being swept up in the heat of the moment. Our attention had been distracted for one moment and we have lost sight of the task at hand.
The rigor with which Derrida took to task was a guiding example of how language refuses to stop to deceive us. And his passing is also an example how we revert back to the norm all because of the nature of language – that things do not last forever. It hides its very nature like an entity which cannot perceive itself from where it stands. We must simply speak outside of language.
And in the same way the Buddha showed us that we must be mindful of what we do and what we say at all times simply because we are prone to inattentativeness.
So why am I not happy about Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk’s philosophy of Gross National Happiness? If language was a guide to our internal beliefs then this term says a lot about where its ideas come from. Having studied in Oxford the King has an “understanding” of the Western culture and ideas. But the choice of the term necessarily betrays that he may not understand the power of language.
Right speech is one of the basic beliefs of the Buddha and Buddhism. And in choosing to continue to use the psuedo-economic terms, to dress it in the langauge of money, is to fall into the linguistic trap. The idea has the potential to become a wolf in sleep’s clothing.
And this months signing of a new and “updated” treaty between India and Bhutan has, in my opinion, taken the country “three steps back”. In it Bhutan now has more freedom to control its own foreign policies and, in particular, the freedom to purchase non-lethal military arms means the country is ever moving closer to the Western ideals of nationhood, and moving away from the Buddhist ideals of self-control and vigilance. That the Pandora’s box had been open by the introduction of television and the internet in the last decade has caused unprecedented changes within the nation, its people and its thinking.
Some have called this a bold experiment but really I think this is just the beginning of a mistake. When people start to talk differently, talk like they are businessmen, then you know there is a problem. Again, it is not easy to see where careless wording can lead. Democracy is not about freedom of choice, it is really about the ability to sell you something you do not need. Democracy has been tied to capitalism more than liberalism. Freedom is only an excuse for opening up potential markets. And if the King cannot see this how can the nation.
Perhaps some have seen this and are hoping to profit. But that is only because they – the West – are “poorer spiritually” or “morally bankrupt” to use economic metaphors. It should be clear by now that finance, money and economics dominates our (Western) culture and it is “on the march” (military metaphor) globally.
Enough said. I think I’ll end all this metaphoric mumbo jumbo here.