The concept of Gross National Happiness is well known, as a fun fact that has become a staple of introductory economics classes.
“Gross National Happiness,” the former king of Bhutan had once declared, “is more important than Gross Domestic Product.”
Whether there is any efficacy in using Bhutan’s idea of GNH to measure well-being in Thailand is a debatable proposition. Yet these days, I find myself wondering about a different sort of GNH than what the Bhutanese monarch had in mind — Gross National Hope.
The phenomenon of Thais lacking hope is not new, of course, but it is undeniable that it has been felt more broadly and with a more remarkable intensity as of late. Those without a penchant towards endless doom-scrolling will have recently found social media as an intolerable source of constant gloom.
At this point, it’s almost redundant to recount the various ailments that may have caused this particular sense of hopelessness. Indeed, bad news arrives everyday with more and more dire implications.
But the past few weeks, with constant talk of infection, death, economic disaster and political incompetency, few seem willing to dwell on anything other than guilt and misery. Perhaps there may be light at the end of the tunnel, as the government’s vaccine plans takes shape, albeit months late.
But how much more will Thailand have to suffer through before we reach that point?