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The jewel of the East

January 28, 2001

Nepal news


Over the past few weeks I have written to you about some of the problems facing Nepal. With ongoing insurgency, a divided government and general discontent, the nation certainly has its fair share of difficulties. But this week I want to write about one of our great strengths. I notice it every time I am at home with my family on the edge of the Valley and I remember it every time I return to Europe. Although our nation is poor, although many of you will have no proper employment and very little hope of a wealthy future, in many ways we are still more fortunate than the richest nations in the global community.

That might sound a little hollow to those of you struggling to feed and clothe your family but it is true nonetheless. For at least you will still have a family around you. In Europe family life is dying. The West may have better facilities for employment, education and health care, but the very foundation of its society has been destroyed. Fifty years of growing prosperity has taken a heavy price. In a culture that now values material wealth as the summit of achievement, it is not surprising that greed, selfishness and lust have eroded family values. Two out of every three marriages formed today will end in the divorce courts. Of the rest a good percentage are marriages in name only. Millions of married partners the West are bound together in loveless homes only by the cold bond of financial need. Younger couples may start out with the best intentions but their chances of success are slight.

General living is so expensive that both will need to work simply to pay the bills. They are pressured into working long hours for the chance of promotion and more money in order to afford children. So they have to fight against their own colleagues to earn the chance of it. And all the time they are pressured by the media into wanting more possessions. They soon get themselves into debt and must then work even harder to pay the interest and deal with the huge paperwork from dozens of bills that pour through the letterbox every day. And whatever time they have for their families is filled with 100 TV channels of seductive rubbish, a room full of music CDs and the Internet.

Of course their children reflect that culture. Today's Western youngster is drawn into the consumer world from birth. Without the proper attention of their parents they are left with the media as the principal influence in their upbringing. So they are seduced into wanting the latest fashion wear, the latest computer accessories and whatever else the market economy wants to sell. They see materialism and broken marriages all around them as a normal part of life. Today's Western youngster isn't even thinking about getting married. Any strong commitment like that to another person would be unthinkable for most of them. They are content with the new system that has replaced traditional marriage in Western society; 'Serial Monogamy'.

It works roughly like this. You chance around a few bars or night clubs, meet a partner that you find sexually attractive and agree to live with each other until one of you meets someone else. During that period monogamy is normally practised but that is more through fear of AIDS or sexual disease than any moral commitment. Money is usually kept separately with regular accounting between partners. If one partner cannot pay their bills the partnership usually ends quickly. Any children are divided and transferred from one 'serial marriage' to the next rather like the furniture or music collection. Today's Western youngster is likely to have several 'brothers and sisters' who are not at all related by blood or law but simply came along with the various relationships of their chosen parent. More than half the children currently living in Britain have only one natural parent living with them. Worse still, most of those children are living with single parents.

Not surprisingly, child crime is rising faster than any other category. Today's Western youngsters quite commonly attack and rob old or weaker citizens and even murder is not beyond them. From gang killings of other children to knifing even their own parents, the children's courts across the developed world are a sad reflection its society. It has followed the path of material evolution and reached it's logical conclusion; a moral desert.

The family unit is the building block of society. How we live together in our families, how we treat our children and how they treat us is the very soil from which our community stems. Society reflects its family structure. If it is weak and built on sand, the flower will fade and true love will be forgotten. That has been the experience of the West. That is the great lesson from which the developing world may benefit in the future - if it can see the danger. The strength of family still common around you today is a precious jewel that the West has long ago sold for more washing machines, cars and fashion wear. Nepal may need to import many Western products but there can be no advantage in accepting the social philosophy of a system that is morally decayed. For Western influence is no longer built upon Christianity but on the Globalisation of naked materialism. Our society may well have to evolve over the coming decades with rapidly changing technology but it should be developed from Eastern roots and not Western values. That root is in your own home. It is in the love, support and loyalty of your own family and those close friends you think of as family. And if you ever feel poor and deprived then stand back and look at those who love you for in them you have the greatest riches of the world.

With my best wishes to you all,