They Are Just So Nice!

I would classify myself as a world traveler. I am no expert on anything involved with it, but I thoroughly enjoy traveling and would definitely list it number one on my list of passions.

My life goal: make it to every country. (Now I understand that the list of countries is constantly changing. Wikipedia currently lists 204 sovereign states. I think in high school I was told that there were 192. So, yes, it is growing and this only makes my goal a little loftier. At this time, my count is at 19. By the end of 2011, I’ll be at 26. I realize that I will have to speed up my pace to even get close to completing this.)

One country that has been on my list for a while now is Nepal. To be honest, I really knew nothing about the nation until about six years ago when I began college at Truman State and realized that the majority of our international students came from Nepal. So really, it has been on my list for about six years. But, for the past six years and especially since beginning my work with Edge of Seven, I have become very intrigued by the country, the geography, the culture and the people.

The people. This is the main point of interest for me. It is constantly noted by anyone and everyone that has visited Nepal that the Nepali people are simply the nicest, most welcoming, most hospitable people. I don’t know if they can outdo the people of the Midwest, but I’m a little biased on that one.

So keeping the niceness level of the Nepalese in mind, I was amazed when I read the article in The New York Times about the resignation of their Prime Minister. Not because he resigned per say, but because of the reasons for it.

Nepal has been dealing with some political unrest for quite some time now. From 1996 through 2006, the country was in a civil war. (Now I know that this contradicts the “niceness” that I’ve been mentioning, but I was more referring to their reactions towards visitors/foreigners.) The Maoists were rebelling against the monarchist government and declared this conflict “The People’s War”. While peace talks began in 2006, the process has been in a stalemate since that first year. This is mainly due to the debate over how to integrate a number of Maoists into the system. But it seems that no consensus can be reached.

Nepal now changed from a monarchy to a federal republic government with parliamentary votes electing leadership positions. In February of this year, Jhalanath Khanal was elected as Prime Minister with the promise to “advance a stagnant peace process or agree with the opposition on a new constitution”. On August 15, he resigned because he admitted to have failed in keeping this promise.

Let me repeat that. He resigned because he admitted to have failed in keeping this promise. That is simply amazing to me.

Stop for a moment and simply imagine if politicians in the United States operated like that. A representative, senator or even an elected president recognized and admitted that they did not keep the promises that they made on the campaign trail. That would be simply shocking. And then to have someone actually resign due to that…that is almost unfathomable in the US.

So yes, Nepal has had their share of political problems within their borders. And yes, they are still dealing with this unrest. But in spite of that, I still stand by my idea that the Nepali people are unlike others. I’m simply impressed that a politician, let alone the head of a country, would back off in the way that Prime Minister Khanal did so that a more effective leader or means can be found to push this peace process along. If only I could say that the same level of respectability was commonly shown in the US political system. That would be the day.

Information taken from the article “Nepal’s Prime Minister Resigns, Citing a Stalemate” by Kiran Chapagain in the August 15, 2011 issue of The New York Times.

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