Yesterday, I was highly privileged to have got the opportunity to celebrate the first ever National Scout Day with His Majesty the King at Harmony: the Centenary Youth Village. The event was organized by the Department of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Education where I work. All the officials of the Department, scouts from schools in Thimphu and other guests who were part of the celebration were equally excited to have His Majesty the King to grace the occasion coinciding with his 35th birth anniversary.
His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen arrived at around 10 o’clock. As soon as Their Majesties arrived, the first thing I noticed was that His Majesty was coughing a bit. I knew he was not so well. “May he get well soon!” I prayed in my heart. It was indeed the most precious opportunity we have ever got to see His Majesty the King in person. It was my third time meeting His Majesty the King since he ascended the golden throne. The first time was when I went to offer him Tashi Khadar (scarf of good wishes) as soon as he became our king in 2008. The last time I met him was in my own office when he had visited the premises a couple of years ago. He talked to me individually and we exchanged a few words at the corridor where we had lined up to receive him. This time I didn’t get a chance to talk to him but I feel extremely grateful that I could hear his voice after a long time.
It was amazing to see His Majesty interacting very casually with children. It showed how much he loves our youth and how much he cares about them. Even his address to the gathering was informal and casual but it carried a very relevant and powerful underlying messages. He first created a light atmosphere by describing how he personally became involved in scouting right from his early age. He shared a few of his experiences of having to address national scouts since as early as he was 16-years-old after his father, His Majesty the 4th King entrusted him with the responsibility. Then as he dived deeper into his address, he kept us all spellbound by his words of wisdom.
I was really charmed by what His Majesty the King told us. His Majesty shared that Bhutan as a small country with just over 700,000 population sandwiched by two giant nations on either side should always fight to survive in the midst of rapid globalization and revolutions. He said that we must all try to look beyond our borders and remain united in thoughts and actions so that we could survive despite our precarious geopolitical location. He sent out a strong message that we cannot afford to remain complacent. Rather, we should always strive for the best. He said that being good is not enough. “If you are good, you should try to be better” His Majesty advised the children. He advised us on four main points:
Preservation and promotion of cultural heritage and traditions
His Majesty said “I see you as the custodians of our culture, heritage and national identity”. He reminded us that our rich cultural values and unique traditions we have inherited from our ancestors form the ultimate lines that define us as Bhutanese. He stressed that it’s the sacred responsibility of every Bhutanese to ensure that our cultural values, traditions and national identity are handed over to our children as they are. Since the future of our nation lies in the hands of our youth, it’s important that we inculcate such values in our children right from the beginning.
National harmony and peace
His majesty said “I also see you as the custodians of peace and harmony”. He stated that we all are equally responsible in ensuring political and social stability, harmony and peace in the country. Hence, we must all remain united forever because it’s unity that makes the nation stronger no matter how small its population may be. For children’s better understanding of the concept, His Majesty also narrated a story of a Mongolian king who demonstrated to his soldiers how the individual arrows could be broken easily, no matter how many are there, but the arrows tied together in a bunch could not be broken. This was a great lesson to the soldiers that if they ever remain united, they can defeat their enemies easily. His Majesty related the moral of this story to our context and advised us all to remain in unity in whatever we do so that we can grow stronger.
0 tolerance to mediocrity
His Majesty stressed that mediocrity should be out of the mentality of Bhutanese people. He advised that one must not be satisfied with what he or she has achieved. The hardwork and struggle must not stop with the first achievement. He stated that we must all strive to excel in whatever we do and continue to contribute more to the country in making a better future for all. He reiterated that being good is not enough. “I want Bhutan to become a better nation” he told us.
Commitment and determination
His Majesty repeatedly stressed the importance of strong determination in life. He said without any determination or will, one cannot get any further in life. He advised us that as a citizen of a small nation, we must all work hard to help our country survive and commit ourselves equally to the service of Tsawasum (the king, country and people). His Majesty told us that he congratulates high academic achievers of different schools every year by sending them wishing cards with his signature on them and for the national rank holders, he invites them to his palace and talk to them over a cup of tea. He said that he does this not to congratulate them on their achievement but to make them work even harder. He said that he does not want people to stop working hard after achieving success once.
To conclude, I should confess that His Majesty’s words were very inspirational and relevant. I was moved by his words of wisdom and I really felt his concerns. He said that he will continue to tell us the same thing over and over again until we have given the most to the country. He said as a king, this is his responsibility to remind his people how to serve their country better. There was a magic in every word he uttered and I am sure most of the children also understood what he said. After his address, he cut his birthday cake offered to him by the scouts. He then suggested if we could have a group photograph with him. First he took photograph with the scouts and then with us, the staff and guests. It was the most wonderful moment for all of us. I felt so blest to have met our beloved king. May he always live in peace and may the guardian deities of Bhutan continue to safeguard our nation!
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