Hope amidst despair – Anyone?

March 16, 2008 at 10:25 am Leave a comment

I was having dinner with a couple of my country-mates (fellow Nepalese) last weekend. As usual our conversation shifted to the political and social situation of Nepal. We agreed that times are uncertain with mid-April elections hanging by a thread. I was, however, quite taken back to sense the pessimism they bore. They firmly believed that not much would change after the elections. In a calm and confident manner they predicted that people who have suffered before will keep on suffering.
What hit me hard is that people in much worse situations around the world are more hopeful than my friends. There are peace-loving people in Israel & Palestine (Yes, they exist!) who have lost homes and families to a 50 year old conflict but still keep on living and hoping that someday there will be some form of reconciliation. People in Uganda and Somalia who had their limbs chopped-off by rebel factions still keep on working because they have kids to feed. And here I saw two college educated foreign nationals, whose lives were untouched by the Maoist insurgency, condemning their own country to perpetual hopelessness. I almost want to make believe that they said those things just to end conversation on that topic.

Maybe the capacity to hope depends on the quality of one’s life while growing up. For many of my pessimist friends, getting an education and fulfilling an ambition was a given social norm. For me, it was an uphill struggle with a very low probability of success. My family has been poor since I can remember. I grew up on small quantities of cheap food, few clothes and heaps of hope. We never had anything. We lived with Aunts and Uncles who were grudgingly generous to charge us zero to minimal rent. Revolutions have come and gone, and my family remains poor to this day. It never bothered me. (Though my parents remain bothered to this day – more on that on a future post.)

What I lacked in material wealth, I sorta made up for with ‘hope’. A naive hope that one day things will get better. And in all honesty, things have gradually been getting better for me all my life. There was a time I thought of toys and junk food as luxuries. Today I have a college education from a US based liberal arts school and a full time job that pays me enough if not well (though that might be in jeopardy next month – read previous entry on H1B for more info). But then, I have ‘hope’ that I will get the improbable H1B so that I can pay for my brother’s school and send money home to my parents who have unimaginable amounts of debt.

My friends grew up hailing cabs on the streets of Kathmandu while I sneaked into an overcrowded public bus to get around K-valley. I guess ‘hope’ takes on a different meaning for people coming from different backgrounds. Today, I hope for a bridging of the inequality gap while my friends hope for…..I don’t know what they hope for, but they have to hope for something. Nobody lives a completely fulfilled life afterall.

The point is – one’s ability to hope depends on how dismal their life is. For the hundreds of thousands in Nepal who have suffered years of mindless violence, the coming elections are a beacon of hope. They might not have any faith in the politicians, but they have hope that the government that gets elected will finally do the right thing(s). As for many who have lived and experienced the good life in the USA, well, I have a feeling they have stopped hoping for any positives coming out of anything to do with Nepal.

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Entry filed under: On Global Conflict. Tags: .

On The aim of pragmatic developmental approach to development is …… by Joseph Kaifala At home, in K-city

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