Monday, November 5, 2018

Third World Passivity

Nepal is a Himalayan nation with a rich spiritual heritage. Lumbini is the birthplace of the Buddha, and glorious temples with real gold roofs adorn the landscape. Nonetheless, people live in abject poverty and the consensus among my acquaintances is that corruption is the name of the game.

One new friend remarked that she used to believe in foreign aid but no more because the money does not get to the people. Government officials get richer and let the people suffer. Of course, this is not unique to Nepal. On virtually every continent greed trumps human kindness when power brokers have their way.

Yet, there is something unique to the Western world, despite its prodigious flaws. People seem less resigned to fate and more proactive in demanding a better quality of life.

This was strikingly apparent yesterday at a large "puja" (a ceremony of a spiritual/religious nature). I and 3,000 Nepalese Buddhists, along with a sprinkling of westerners, were streaming out of the grounds where the event had taken place. We had to pass through a badly paved lane sandwiched between buildings to reach the main road. A shopkeeper on this small causeway suddenly turned on his hose and decided to wash the patch of concrete in front of his store, an area that was choked with human beings.

Luckily I was not at the head of the herd, but just far back enough to see what was going on in front of me. Small children and their parents were getting splattered with water as the filth of the street rose in tandem with the spray. The Nepalis said nothing and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a small Nepali boy spinning in confusion at the watery assault.

Then, out of this chaos came the voice of a blonde American woman who was also being doused. She shouted, "Stop! You are getting us all dirty! Note the pronoun US. Not ME. The man with the house was mildly daunted and shifted the direction of his hose to the side of the street.

Later on, an insight dawned on me. The Nepali folks just bore the insult and said nothing. The woman with the mane of blond hair took action, demanding that the watery injustice stop. This was not a case of "the ugly American" but rather someone who stood up to a wrong in an attempt to correct it.

When people remain silent, when they are afraid to protest, they get run over. How fitting that this observation happens on the eve of the critical midterm elections in the US. May my fellow countrymen of conscience rise up to right the wrongs being inflicted on our country.


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Third World Passivity

Nepal is a Himalayan nation with a rich spiritual heritage. Lumbini is the birthplace of the Buddha, and glorious temples with real gold ro...