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“We learn from history that we do not learn from history”
In the fragmented memories of my childhood, I remember listening to the radio with my mother amidst the nationwide protests to put an end to a 240-year-old monarchy. Today when I turn on any news outlet I’m baffled at hearing desperate voices say, “राजा आउ देश बचाउ!!”. But the feeling in both instances is the same: the 4-year-old kid frightened, hearing the elders talk about all the violence in the streets, all for something so arbitrary for my puny little brain to comprehend, and today as a 19-year-old, uncertain about his country’s future, frightened that it might be headed in a state of perpetual instability, and Orwellian authoritarianism being a very real possibility.
Humans have always tried to put a buffer between themselves and the abyss that presents when navigating through the predicaments of our humanity, whether it be in the form of gods, prophets, monarchs, or ideologies promising utopia. What’s happening in Nepal is no different, Nepalese people are scared, scared for themselves and the future of their children in this nation. Nepalese people are frustrated, frustrated at the people that were supposed to be their guides through the abyss and lead our nation into “the light”. The river of hope and trust that Nepalis had in democracy has turned into a river of pus and the blood of Bir Gorkhalis that carried pride for their country has more disease than blood, and all the credit for this goes to a poor implementation of a solid democracy and a lack of foundational political philosophy in the country, coupled with our delusions of a Messianic figure that will save the country.
This supposed savior that will guide us through has come in many forms since the abolishment of monarchy, from the utopian promise of the communist ideologues to the recent rise of independent politicians, but they were never able to fulfill our insatiable lust for an absolute power figure that will make our country the heavenly place it was always meant to be. The threat of authoritarianism is the most prominent it's been in the country with the current Maoist government censoring media outlets and the ever-growing possibility of a return to the monarchy that we once so despised because of its authoritarian tendencies.
We dream about big and grandiose changes to grasp at some kind of hope like a drug addict chasing their next big high while the small decisions in policy that are responsible for building a country always seem to evade the eyes of the masses. “The king will keep the ministers accountable” is a popular argument put forth by the royalists but they fail to take into account the accountability of the king. Who’s going to keep the king accountable? The gods? Maybe that’s why the same set of groups is trying to push for a Hindu nation redeclaration.
When will we realize that we are the ones responsible for keeping the politicians accountable? Why aren’t there tens of thousands on the streets protesting when the prime minister takes an unconstitutional oath? Why aren’t there tens of thousands in the streets protesting multiple reinstatements of the same political leader through party coalitions, demanding strong electoral accountability? No person should be allowed to lead a country more than twice whether they complete their tenure or not. Keeping the faces fresh is crucial for a strong democracy. Why aren't there mass protests demanding for strong electoral accountability? Instead, we rummage through the cold and rotting trash cans of history hoping for a warm meal of salvation. “I’d rather be ruled by a single lion than a 100 wolves” echoes through the royalist masses but I fear we might just end up with 101.
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