Raking up the Past

On the Statue of Liberty Emma Lazarus’ poem, The ‘New Colossus’ is inscribed on a plaque

July 9, 2017, 2:55 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL. 10, NO. 22, July 07, 2017 (Ashadh 23,2074)

Coming from a nation that is inordinately fond of raking up its past, particularly the more glorious accounts, I wasn’t too impressed with an article by Stephen Fry in the New York Times on July 1st  giving a thumbs up to Monarchy versus Presidency. The part I agreed with was the one pointing out the plus points of the monarchic system which, in the UK at least, has managed to keep its head above water even when the rest of the ship is sinking  (and there have been many such instances both in the past and in the present); and no doubt there will be many more instances in future too!   

I must admit that the image of Trump walking backwards out of someone else’s throne room was a delight. There is a decided contrast between a 92-year old lady who has dedicated herself to her country through thick and thin. She never promised to make Britain ‘great’ again because I have no doubt that she has never believed that it has not been so. On the other hand, the ‘democratically’ elected ‘wunderkind’ in the White House speaks about the US as if it’s limping along on its hind legs waiting for a motorised mobility contraption to come along and give it an uplift. Sometimes his declarations sound as if he is announcing his ideas and himself as the ‘best things since sliced bread.’ It just fails short of the mark.

Sad as it seems, the ‘greatest’ nation in the world has at its helm someone who has a limited grasp of the ROW (rest of the world). Whoever strokes him is ‘wonderful’; whoever criticises him is ‘dumb’. It’s an example of what the French aptly term ‘il faut gratter’; in other words ‘it is necessary to scratch’ or ‘ you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’.  

This phenomenon is well-known and acknowledged in countries like ours under the term ‘chakarry’ or ‘chicanery’, for which we were so roundly criticised by the first American ‘developers’. We were soundly criticised for our habit of flattery and offering ‘fragrant grease’: these were the bad habits that were holding Nepal back, preventing our development, we were urged to drop our ‘affiliation norms’ and take up the flag of ‘achievement’. We were, at one time, all besotted with N aff and N ach.

So many seminars in luxury hotels and ‘whoopee’ sometimes in exotic countries where we could be trained and moulded into ‘achievers’. And what has all this training done for us?

Our young people leave in droves, the farming sector sells more and more arable land each day for building. Once we exported grains of high quality, now we import them. Our fruit comes in packs that feel like plasticine, not from our own fields but from those elsewhere, no names, no pack drill.

Is all this because our young do not like hard work? I doubt it, the places they work in abroad are much harder ‘workshops’ than the fields and forests of Nepal. The exodus could have been triggered by the ‘People’s War’, the Maoists are so proud of! How proud are their leaders now of the infrastructure destroyed. Now they can blame the 2015 earthquake, but in the interior it seems as if the earthquake finished the swathe of destruction the People’s War started.

It’s now time for us to make a comparison between the ‘development’ formulae shoved down our throats for the last 50 years and the origins of these mantra. It seems as if the ‘great saviour’ of the ‘Free World’ is not prepared to maintain freedom under threat, which would have been the greatest test of its validity. Now the drawbridge is well and truly closed and we have only to wait and observe how well the ‘defenders’ of human rights and freedoms can  defend us all and get it opened again.

On the Statue of Liberty Emma Lazarus’ poem, The ‘New Colossus’ is inscribed on a plaque, an invitation to send, the tired, poor, and the hungry to a land of opportunity for them. It doesn’t say ‘send your best athletes, actors, scientists, doctors; any one you have who does things better than anyone else and we will make them rich. They may only be serving their countries now, but here they can serve themselves and preach ‘democracy’ to the ROW.’

To be fair, for decades, the USA kept up its side of the bargain.

As children we used to look secretly at a book at the very back of our parents’ bookshelves. It was a book of black and white photographs but hardly of the coffee table type. It was book of ‘limited distribution’ put together by the military information units responsible for recording the atrocities of WW2 concentration camps.   Its title was ‘Lest We Forget’ and it was designed to ensure we never did so that such atrocities would never happen again.  And thus, we children vowed in the silent reaches of our minds and spirits, tears in our eyes at the sight of babies ‘baked to dust’ in gas ovens that such atrocities would not happen again, not in our time!

That was 1945 and here we are in 2017 and such incidents have never stopped happening. The Rwandan genocide strikes one as an alarming example of man’s inhumanity. In the name of religions children have been sacrificed always; and we still render infants to the screaming ‘Moloch’ of bombs and bombers, poison gas and, at the end of it all when all systems are down, starvation. From the shores of the Mediterranean to the heights of the Hindu Kush, people pick up their children and run. As I write more and more borders close against them. Every face that looks a little different is a terrorist. So, we all begin to run, and run and run until there is nowhere else for us to go! So we’ll have to sit down and wait for death. Humanity, the great, compassionate horde of philosophers, poets, inventors, musicians, creators, we think, of beauty, has finally sunk so low that we have     become ‘death’, which some among us believe is a ticket to paradise. Is it? 

Go figure friends, go figure. Our next moves are going to be perhaps the most critical and dangerous we have ever made.

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