This I Believe

Katie - Golden, Colorado
Entered on October 21, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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The summer after seventh grade I traveled to the isolated country of Bhutan. Since my trip, I have come to believe that happiness can occur just as easily under a monarchy as it does under a democracy.

My mom was working at the hospital in Thimphu, and she enrolled me in Changangkha Lower Secondary School. I learned about Bhutan, its history, its culture and the opinions of its people. Bhutanese opinions and customs differ greatly from those in America, particularly concerning the government. The customs and culture of Bhutan is what makes the monarchy so successful.

Bhutan’s government has been a monarchy since 1907, and the same dynasty has ruled the entire time. A feudal system was also in place until 1952. Everyone I met was in love with the king and his policies, because he has done so much to aid the kingdom. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck has established free health care for all citizens, and he works very hard to improve the economy while still preserving the unique Bhutanese culture. He freely gave up absolute power, and he has an elected parliament to advise him. The people can even remove him from the throne.

I believe this is the type of nation where people can flourish. One day I was speaking with the girls in my class, and they discovered that I didn’t support the leader of my country. This confused them. They did not understand how I could not support my leader. They thought that a leader is always loved. The girls love their leader and they were pleased that he was their king. Everywhere I went I experienced the same sort of things. The Bhutanese appear to be very happy under his government, and it is likely that they will continue to have a monarchy.

Another reason why their government works so well is the tradition of gift-giving. The people are accustomed to giving to their lord and receiving aid in return, so paying taxes and other such things is not a hardship. Gift-giving is also used to cement alliances, between lord and vassal, or between neighbors. I encountered this tradition when I invited some of my friends to my house for the first time. When they arrived, they gave us small gifts. I asked them why and they told me that it was a custom to bring a gift when you visit for the first time. Since the government follows tradition the way people interpret, people happy with the government.

Monarchy is a good system of government for the Bhutanese. They are happy with the way things are done, and have no big complaints. After my trip, I have come to believe that the best system of government is a system that fits with the culture, and one that people are happy with.