Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Hope is relative to where you grow up on Earth. Just to demonstrate the extremes of hope. For example, in America, one family might be so rich and prestigious that a child growing up, if that child doesn't eventually become President of the United States all hope would be lost. Whereas in a third world nation the hope might be that the child survives to even go to grade school.

I ran into this while traveling in India and Nepal in 1985 and 1986. Since it is now 25 years later obviously everything has changed. But I will use my experience then as how different things can be on Earth than the U.S. from 1950 until now.

When my family and I did a trek on foot into the Helambu area of Nepal about 5 hours by bus then from Kathmandu, we got off the bus then near a river after bouncing around inside a dusty little bus with no real windows. In fact, there were not even seats because of the variety of people and goods it carried from time to time. We got off at the end of a little dirt road where the trail up into the Himalayas began next to a river coming out of the Himalayas a little distance away from the Tibet and Nepal border. The first people we met tried to give us their beautiful 15 year old daughter to take back to the U.S. but they were local tribespeople and were not educated in the ways of the world. Even if we wanted to take their beautiful 15 year old daughter with us, we couldn't have because people in this area would not have a birth certificate which would be necessary for any kind of passport. So, because they couldn't speak English we pretended we didn't know what they wanted. So, they thought we were rejecting their daughter and the whole tribe got offended. Later, we met many of them and they swore at us all along a trail for not taking the daughter. We never found out what the back story was. Maybe she was pregnant or didn't want to marry some old man. I don't know. But just because we couldn't take her with us, somehow it offended the whole tribe.

Hope is a very different thing all around the world and wouldn't even make sense to most of us living in the U.S. in regard to what people are actually hoping for. I knew a lady who told me that her ex-husband came from the middle east and believed the U.S. streets were paved with Gold. And nothing other than coming here could convince him otherwise.

When I was in India and Nepal, maybe 1000 people asked me to take them to the U.S. when I returned. There were only about 2 of these people that I considered seriously, because most had only "the streets of the U.S. are paved with gold" kind of thoughts about the U.S. which were completely unrealistic. And there was a very intelligent Tibetan young man who followed my family, named Deshek by bus to our next pilgrimage trying to get me to take him to the U.S. but I knew he was just too idealistic and not worldly enough to really understand what coming to the U.S. would really mean. Likely, it would have just been a complete cultures shock for him. Even the Tibetan Lama's English translator who was about 25 from Darjeeling came to the U.S. who was raised fairly wealthy didn't like the U.S. You will never guess what his main complaint was. He didn't like not being able to bribe people to do anything he wanted at any time. In India money could buy literally anything at that time. He also didn't like the fact that hiways moved faster than 25 mph because in India at that time because of all the people walking bicycles, motorcycles, horse carts, water buffalo walking on the roads, ruts in the roads, there were NO roads where anyone sane went faster than 25 mph anywhere unless they died or mowed down people or animals doing it. That was just the way it was in India in 1985 and 1986.

So, hope is relative to what you are used to and how you are educated. The loss of hope in the U.S. is pretty scary for me to witness now in the deepest longest recession since the Great Depression. And I don't know if the 8 million people who lost their jobs will ever find full employment ever again. But if you want to change you point of view go to a 2nd or 3rd world nation and talk to the people about what they think is going on and about their hopes. I think it would really blow your mind. In many of those countries their hope is just that they are alive tomorrow and that someone doesn't rape or shoot them tonight.

So, if you live in the U.S. take hope. It could be much worse. WE still live in one of the safest places on earth. At least there still is safe food to eat here even if you have to go to a soup kitchen to find it.

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