Sunday, May 10, 2015

Kathmandu, Barpak, Pokhara: Neighbors in Need

UPDATE (April 12, 2015 2:54 p.m. UTC/GMT)

Another, new, earthquake in Nepal: this time near Mount Everest/Sagarmāthā/Chomolungma.
"Nepal earthquake: Dozens die in new tremor near Everest

"At least 37 people have been killed and more than 1,000 injured, officials say. At least 17 have also died in India.

"The latest earthquake hit near the town of Namche Bazaar and sent thousands of panicked residents on to the streets on the capital, Kathmandu.

"It had a magnitude of 7.3, compared with the 7.8 of the 25 April quake.

"The latest tremor was also felt in northern India and Bangladesh. It was centred about 76km (47 miles) east of Kathmandu, in a rural area close to the Chinese border...."
(BBC News)
The rest of this post is from Sunday, April 11, 2015.

The odds are that you hadn't heard of Barpak, between Kathmandu and Pokhara, before the April 25, 2015. The earthquake that day left fewer than 10 of 1,200 homes in Barpak standing.

Survivors in Nepal are getting help from many outfits, including Catholic Relief Services. I'll get back to that.

(From Reuters, via BBC News, used w/o permission.)
("Residents of Bhaktapur carry their belongs through the rubble of destroyed houses"
(BBC News))

Last week's 'Sunday' post ended with this:
"6 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?

"If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day,

"and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,' but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?"
(James 2:15-16)
Knowing what's right is one thing. Believing it's important is another: so is acting like it matters.
"So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

"Indeed someone might say, 'You have faith and I have works.' Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.

"You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble."
(James 2:17-19)
The letter gets a bit intense after that.

Matthew 25:34-46 makes it clear that caring for folks in need is important. It's a matter of respect: for people and for "the transcendent dignity of man." (Catechism, 1929-1933)

That reminds me of neighbors and the chap who asked "who is my neighbor?" (Luke 10:29)

The 'Good Samaritan' story in Luke 10:30-37 doesn't, I think, have quite the punch it did two millennia back.

These days, it'd be like telling a story in a redneck bar — where a coal miner, poor farmer, and truck driver wouldn't help the accident victim: but an east Asian immigrant did. I've said that before. (October 26, 2014)

Nepal: A Quick Introduction

(From Hilmi Hacaloğlu, Voice of America; via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
("Nepal Army and Turkish disaster relief aid workers working together"

Folks have been living in Nepal's Kathmandu Valley for upwards of 11,000 years.

Siddhārtha Gautama was born there, most likely two dozen or so centuries back. He's the sage whose teachings started Buddhism. Details of Gautama's life are known from an oral tradition first written down in 29 BC, and that's another topic.

Prithvi Narayan Shah conquered; or unified, depending on one's viewpoint; the Khatmandu Valley around 1769. His dynasty ended in 2008, when a probable murder-suicide survivor was evicted. The folks in Nepal today call it a republic, and that's yet another topic.

Folks in Nepal could be worse off. They had no schools, hospitals, roads, telecommunications, electric power, or industry in 1951: but today the average literacy rate is around 65.9%.

On the other hand, Nepal is #145 on the Human Development Index's 187 countries.

The good news is that there's an international effort under way to help survivors of the April 25, 2015, earthquake.

Thousands Dead, Hard Times Ahead

(AFP, Getty, EPA, via BBC News; used w/o permission.)
("Dharahara tower, Kathmandu: 27 October 1998 and 26 April 2015"
(BBC News))

The earthquake killed more than 8,000 of Nepal's 30,000,000 people: maybe over 10,000. Happily, quite a few folks in rural Nepal were at work outside when it hit.

Their troubles won't be going away any time soon. For one thing, there's a chance they won't get enough crops planted before monsoon season. ("In Nepal, senior UN official warns 'clock is ticking' for earthquake relief efforts," UN News Centre (May 4, 2015))

No pressure, but you might consider donating to CRS. They're helping folks in Nepal, and 92 other countries, including the ones I picked for this list:
CRS will help anyone who is in need:
"...As a part of the Universal Church, we work with local Catholic institutions around the world. As a Catholic agency that provides assistance to people in need in 93 countries without regard to race, religion or nationality, we also participate in humanitarian initiatives undertaken by a range of groups, including governments, other faith communities and secular institutions...."
(About Catholic Relief Services,
"Universal?" "Catholic" is English for catholicus; a Latin word we get from katholikos, καθολικός, which is Greek for "universal." (September 7, 2014)

The phrase "social justice" doesn't appear (prudently, I think) on Catholic Relief Services' Guiding Principles page: but they do talk about the "option for the poor" and "solidarity." My guess is that a sufficiently-brittle conservative could assume that they're leftists.

On the other hand, they say that we're "created in the image of God, all human life is sacred and possesses a dignity that comes directly from our creation" — so a knee-jerk liberal might assume that they're they're right-wing religious fanatics.

Catholic Relief Services is an American member of Caritas Internationalis: a Catholic organization that's working to build a "civilization of love." I don't see a problem with their goals: ending poverty, promoting justice, and restoring dignity.

But, as I've said before, I'm not conservative or liberal: I'm Catholic. (November 3, 2008)

Dharahara Tower, Faith, and Politics

The Dharahara tower looked like an Islamic minaret topped by a statue of Shiva, a Hindu deity.

It was a military watchtower, and served as a tourist attraction until last month. 180 folks were in or near it when it collapsed: all dead. I've talked about divine retribution, the tower of Siloam, and getting a grip, before. (March 15, 2011)

Nepali religious beliefs are mostly Hindu:
  • 80.7% Hindu
  • 10.3% Buddhist
  • 4.6% Muslim
  • 3.7% Folk
  • 1% Christian
  • 1% Other
    (Pew Research, via Wikipedia)
Interestingly, the "secular state" currently running Nepal put one of their folks in charge of the (Hindu) Pashupatinath Temple in 2009.

After legal wrangles and remarkably little bloodshed, they let a qualified Bhatta priest have the job.

I gather that Hindus and Buddhists in Nepal don't see themselves as following two different religions: thanks to the country's history and culture. The national bosses are — yet again another topic.

Neighbors in Nepal

(From Google, BBC News, used w/o permission.)

Parishes in our area are doing a second collection for CRS Nepal on the third weekend of this month.

There aren't many places farther from my home in Minnesota than Nepal, so why should I care what happens there?

The reason is simple. They're neighbors.

I'm expected to love God, love my neighbors, treat others as I'd like to be treated: and see everyone as my neighbor. (Matthew 5:43-44, 7:12, 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31 10:25-27, 29-37; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1789)

That's fine, but in my language "love" means quite a few things. Someone can say "I love my brother; I love my wife; I love my friends, and I love my kids."

Unless something's seriously wrong, that's four different sorts of affection: what the ancient Greeks called agápe, éros, philia, and storge.

Making things more complicated, "I love food" expresses yet another emotional attachment: and if I keep writing about love, language, and linguini, this post won't be done in time.

If I love God the way I should, charity will follow.
"CHARITY: The theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God (1822)."
(Catechism, Glossary)
Charity is one of the three theological virtues: along with faith and hope. Loving myself makes sense because God loves me. Loving neighbors makes sense, too — for the same reason. (Catechism, 1813, 1822-1828)

And that's still more topics.

More about love and neighbors:


Brigid said...

Missing word: "The folks Nepal today call it a republic,"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian H. Gill said...


Right! Thanks, and fixed.

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