I can not imagine the suffering going on in Nepal right now. People are buried, crushed, maimed, under thousands of tons of rocks, bricks and timber - devastations to Kathmandu, Patan, Bhaktapur, Boda, to countless villages and hamlets across the narrow band that runs along the southern edge of the Himalaya. It can probably never be fixed. And Nepal's economy depends almost entirely on tourism. Nepal is an impoverished country to begin with. Now, this huge wave of dead and wounded, and the unimaginable need for immediate shelter, emergency response and medical assistance can ruin them for generations. They haven't got the resources to dig out and to rescue people trapped in the rubble, let alone give any thought to rebuilding on such a gargantuan scale. This cataclysm is going to torture Nepal for years.
I've spent a few years in Nepal. I considered Kathmandu my real hometown for a long time. Nepal was the country that taught me about humanity, a lesson I did not learn well enough, but that was no fault of Nepal's.
Lots of Americans don't seem to believe that the United States should ever spend a nickel to help the people of other countries. Personally, I think if we'd spent one one-hundredth of what we've spent on wars in the last 14 years on goodwill, the world wouldn't be quite as messed up as it is right now. But, I know that’s unpopular with a lot of people who think God wouldn’t have made us so good at building explosives if we weren’t meant to blow up half the weddings in the Karakoram just so that every once in a while we get treated to the drone video of lighting ‘em up.
So, for Americans who only want to help countries who have passed the loyalty test, know that Nepalis have always been staunch friends of America. They have always welcomed us and offered us the full run of their heartfelt hospitality. We need to help them now. We need to call our congresspeople and the White House and let them know that helping our friends in that magical Himalayan country would be a hell of a better way to spend some of our bloated defense budget than on whatever idiotic bullshit it is we spend it on all day, a hundred grand at a time lobbing practice shells for fun, tapping everyone's phone, building data centers to spy on all of us, creating a trillion dollar fighter jet (yes, we are), you name it. One of the world's heritage sites is bleeding under rubble right now. That should be enough.
The money that Nepal needs, in total, is something that any one of the richest 400 families in the US alone could pull out of an ATM, if there was one with 40,000 square feet of pallets loaded with $100 bills - and not feel it. Without being forced into the squalor of living without things like this $650 million - six hundred and fifty million dollar - private jet (this particular one is going to one of the Saudis, who, granted, still hold the record for bottomless depravity, though we’re doing all we can to catch up). It’s much more important that some psychopath be able to rape a planeload of the children they’ve bought on the slave market from Boko Haram at 37,000 feet than rescue tens of thousands of poor people in the Himalaya.
By the way? News flash from Kathmandu: not one private jet has landed at the airport there to lend a hand. That has to be coincidence. Maybe they don't know that the airport is open. I’m sure most people with private jets are volunteering them for the rescue effort. Or - could it be that not one single one will? Yes. It certainly could be.
Five billion would go a long way to relieving this terrible pressure on the Nepali people. What's five billion? It seems to me that when individuals have enough money - money they scream about not being re-distributed, though they were fine with the rigged system that distributed it in the first place, enough money to fix a whole destroyed country with a population of 31 million, a devastated infrastructure, visited by a tidal wave of misery that has killed and maimed thousands... well, certain individuals just have way too goddamned much money and ought to have it taken away from them and I don't give one good damn any more if they sign the check at the point of a bayonet before they're stood up against a wall. We have a Congress filled with braindead idiots talking about a “Second Amendment remedy” for a president who doesn’t want to turn starving children who are going to be murdered by drug gangs away from the border. Well, then whip out the Second Amendment remedy for the parasites who are killing the world. Most of them live right here in the good ol’ USA.
One thing is sure, though. The Nepali people might have the biggest hearts in the world. They are brave and strong, they live lives dedicated to principles of spirit, generosity and community. We could learn a lot from them. Ask anyone who's been there. No one leaves Nepal without being moved deeply.
Of my three closest friends there, all of whom I've known for more than 30 years, I've been able to contact two. The third I have had no luck getting through to. He is like a brother to me. He saved my life once when I was killed on a roadside there.
So, Paki-ji, prayers out to you Brother Man. Worrying about you, the family, and of course, Nightingale Book Shop, all day.