Monday, April 27, 2015

Why Nepal?

Only a few days prior to the devastating earthquake, a friend was telling me that she would rather live in Nepal even if the country is sitting on a known fault line and prone to earthquakes including a big one that can hit any time.

When the devastating earthquake hit Nepal and its aftershocks reached India, I was sad for the wonderful people, many of whom I have come to know over the years. The tragedy serves as a reminder of the unpredictability and fragility of our lives and how we think we are in control and we make plans as if we are going to live forever but rarely do we plan on the other more fateful alternative.

Particularly as the Middle East has been going through an unprecedented phase of wars, terror, destruction, death and forced exoduses. In many ways, the region has been going through an endless man-made earthquake that is far more destructive and more violent than nature can ever produce. While nature’s earthquake will leave many grieving scars, people will build their property and livelihoods and move on. Ours, however, is rooted in a bloody history, wrapped in divisive traditions; it carries repercussions and aftershocks for many generations to come.

Which is better then, and who is better off? Can anyone answer this question objectively? When we’re judged on our humanity instead of our social status, bank accounts, power, militancy, tyranny or our capability to wreak havoc, how do we stack up?

The Nepal earthquake which has so far killed more than four thousand people so far and flattened buildings, interrupting life as people know it, is a devastation by all standards. We won’t tally who helped or who gave or who did nothing at all; but at a time of crisis such as this, as in the past with tsunamis, earthquakes, avalanches and other natural disasters that hit the poorest of the poor, what we feel towards the victims and what we do, say a lot about who we are as people.

The Middle East region employs many Nepalese and Indians as part of its migrant worker population. This is a perfect opportunity to practice compassion, charity and love. These are the same teachings at the basis of the monotheistic religions of the region. With this in mind, how do we measure up and are we in synch with what really counts and matters in life? In the face of a tragedy of this magnitude, do we hug our children longer? Do we kiss our loved ones harder? Do we evaluate our life based on our blessings or based on our tragedies? When we ask ourselves, “Why Nepal?” Are we asking because we feel superior and we feel the Nepalese are less fortunate or because we consider ourselves removed from the tragedy and therefore lucky?

As we assess our lives and determine our priorities, let Nepal’s earthquake remind us that, though it might not seem so on the surface, but we are equal in doom, as we are equal in woes and troubles, and happiness too. We are equal in life, breath and death, the rest are only details!


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