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Stitching Up the Nepalese

Nepal is a developing country.  It lacks many of the luxuries of a western life.  But beneath the surface there are centuries old traditions that are still alive and well.  Perhaps the greatest difference that I have noticed between America and Nepal is that the Nepalese do not spend their lives living in fear. 

Kathmandu is a city that is plagued with corruption and pollution.  Traffic makes walking down the street a near death experience, but women walk alone.  People are not afraid of their neighbors.  If you stumble in the street someone will stop and ask you if you are okay.  Americans spend their lives looking over their shoulder.  We are afraid of our neighbors so we keep to ourselves; we are afraid of walking alone so we do not leave our houses.  We are always afraid of what may happen.  Well, let me tell you what I am afraid of.  I am afraid of what WILL happen if I spend my life living in fear.  Imagine all of the missed experiences, the people that we could have met, and of the ideas that would have been born. 

I am sorry to admit that Americans are a very violent and aggressive people….anyone who has ever driven in New York City can attest to this.  But did you ever stop and ask yourself why.  In Kathmandu the roads are jam packed and traffic is always backed up, but there is no such thing as road rage.  People would frequently accost me on the street but just to practice their English and not because they wanted to give me a hard time.  My point is simply this; in our country we are aggressive because we are afraid and afraid because we are aggressive. 

Let us probe a little deeper.  At the risk of sounding stupid, allow me to quote Yoda (from Star Wars) in an attempt to explain this; “Fear turns to anger, anger turns to hate, and therein lies the dark side.”  Well, the dark side in this case is the fear and anger that penetrates our society to its very bottom.  I believe that our fear of one another is the cause for the racism and aggression that we are so quick to identify and so slow to remedy.  For you cannot, you absolutely cannot love one if you are afraid of them. 

I have been out of college for nine months now.  Taking a year off from school was one of the best things I have ever done.  This story is an attempt to preserve Nepal as more than just a memory.  Without it, I am afraid that my memories will slowly fade only to be replaced by the worries and concerns of moments yet to come.  I began my Officers Basic Course for Field Artillery at Fort Sill on the twenty fourth of February.  It will be difficult changing my mind set from a medical aid volunteer to a hard core Field Artillery Lieutenant, but it can be done.  I know that these two seem contradictory…believe me I am well aware of this contradiction.  But in fact, they are not.  My interests are divers and far reaching.  Each one represents a unique side of my personality in much the same way that each facet represents one side of the same diamond.  I had a teacher in high school who once said to us: “You guys are young.  You can be anything you want to be, just don’t be boring!”  Brad was right.  Curiosity and enthusiasm are the two most highly recompensed qualities an individual can have.  Nepal inspired both.  But, of all the things I learned, the greatest is this; success is a journey and not a destination.

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