Now we want to tell you about one of the world’s newest libraries in Bhutan. Bhutan is a tiny kingdom sandwiched between two giants — India and China. It’s also perched high in the Himalayas — isolated for much of its history.
So when a non-profit group announced it wanted to help the village start a library, the reaction was lukewarm. The library is only the second free lending library in the entire country. The other one is ten hours away in the capital Thimphu.
Choden says some parents were worried by the idea that their kids would borrow books to take home. They were afraid the children might destroy them, and they’d have to pay. The sad part is that the parents here maybe because they’re illiterate don’t see the importance of a book. They don’t encourage their children to read. That’s the sad thing, right?
It reminds me a story from last year in which over 10,000 South African school children marched to demand libraries and librarians. There are charity organizations such as Room to Read working to build libraries around the world in places that never had one before. So while the rest of the world strives to get libraries, we of the ‘first world’ are tossing them to the side.
I’ve said it before: our governmental spending indicates where our societal interests lay. By that account, in the United States we spend over ten times on the military than we do on education. I don’t know whether it is being lazy or careless, but the message I get is that it is easier to build bombs and bullets than it is to build minds and mentalities.
I’m not exactly a pacifist here, but I do know that I have not seen a fictional vision of the future in which we waited for an alien race to land, shot the occupants, and then used their spacecraft to explore the universe. It’s not how we get to the types of futures as envisioned in shows like ‘Star Trek’.
I hate to rant on this because it’s a very old rant with nothing new. But if it can maybe change one person’s mind, then it will be worth it. In my lifetime, hopefully the numbers on the defense and education budgets will swap as we convert from a military-industrial to an educational-industrial complex.
Something to dream about, but when so many things start as a dream, it’s a good starting point.