As part of the International Forum for Well-being 2018 in Grenoble, the debate on ideas regarding the concept of well-being from activists across Southeast Asia took place. Each and everyone on the panel shared their own country’s current situation, the political landscape, as well as the people’s vision for the future.
Timor Leste is a newly independent country. As such, challenges are well present in the country. The struggling nation has recently started its integration process into the global economy and has built its own democracy.
The representative from Timor Leste, Mr. Jenito Santana, discussed the local concept of Tara Bandu, a method to approach conflicts amongst people. The principle is based on the agreement between the triangle relationships of nature, human, and animals. His organization is working to prevent and resolve tensions in the region, and to protect the rights of coffee farmers. This mission is a long process, quoted: “I don’t know where it’s going to be in the future.” Impact is visible natheless, since farmers are increasingly more aware of the use of money and the protection of their properties.
The case of Thailand is well different from the rest. The country is already integrated economically, and its new missions within the non-profit sector in the field of well-being are to facilitate cultural exchanges among people across 5 nations within ASEAN, improve the communication and the connections among people, protect the ecology and marine environment, and develop sustainable agriculture.
According to Madame Narumon Paiboonsittikun, economic wealth is still important. The School for Well-being, her organization, has placed poverty eradication at a high priority. However, wealth is not the only aim to achieve. After all, cultural values and social cohesion are what ultimately brings happiness to people. For example, the people of ethnic minorities in Northern Thailand are highly connected to one another as well as to the surrounding natural environment. These people are considered highly happy and might serve as a model to strive toward.
The politically unstable Myanmar is still suffering economically from its own civil war for decades. Recent happenings within the nation cripple democratization, depress its people, and freeze governmental functions. Albeit the immense amount of struggle the people face everyday, hope is still called for. Inspired by the idea of the GNH index (the Gross National Happiness index), Metta Development Foundation is trying to implement the indicator into the “National Performance Measures”. The speaker on panel, Sai Sam Kham, believes that to overcome pains, we need to make peace with ourselves, keep hope, and build up self-confidence.
The colder the season is, the tighter hands are held, and thus the warmer we are. Finding happiness in simple things is a piece of advice from our representative, because in whatever form it is, any of our “vision(s) for happiness could never be actualized alone.”