It is evident that Nepal is grappling with serious social psychological problem today. Dissatisfaction, frustration, and unhappiness have surfaced on the Nepali soil over the years. Common people express their bitter anger and resentment against the political leadership. It seems as if political leaders are the only source of evil that is destroying Nepal limb by limb. One expression “Nepal has no future” has become a cliché hanging in almost every Nepali mouth. They think Nepal is not a livable place, especially for youths. Is it true that Nepal has no future?
Thousands of arguments can be furnished for and against this statement. We have been facing such arguments everywhere in public places – in villages, towns, communities, and workplaces. The argument that Nepal cannot sustain itself in the way it is going now has gained popularity among the youth, which is driving millions of young people out of the country. If such discourses continue to become commonplace in the future like today, they will be a threat to the country itself. Our responsibility is to delve into this matter and bring reality to light.
It may be worthwhile to refer to an ancient Greek myth to relate to the Nepali situation in this regard. According to this myth explained in Hesiod, when Prometheus stole fire from heaven, Zeus, the king of all gods, decided to take vengeance against Prometheus. So, he presented Pandora with a box (a jar in fact) to Prometheus’s brother Epimetheus. Out of her curiosity, Pandora opened the box against what she was suggested allowing all evils to plague the earth. One small ray was still left inside the box. That was hope waiting to improve the human condition when required. It is believed that the earth is still infected by such evils which are against the coveted dream of all humans living in an earthly paradise and becoming happy forever. But simultaneously we are still waiting for the hope to come to this world to remove all evils and make it a heaven full of joy and pleasure devoid of sorrow and pain.
Nothing can be said for certain whether Zeus was happy to take revenge against the fire bringer to humanity. Nor do we know humans are only unhappy with the evil Pandora’s box brought about. Yet Pandora's box can be understood as a metaphor for something that unfortunately brings about great troubles or misfortune but fortunately also holds hope. Pandora’s opening of the box can also be likened to Eve’s tasting of the Tree of Knowledge created by God which was a forbidden fruit to be taken by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. But out of curiosity, Adam and Eve took the forbidden fruit just as Pandora opened the box. For this misdeed, God punished Adam for taking pains in toil for survival and Eve for the reproduction of offspring to continue everlasting pains and troubles on earth.
Yet humans are not afraid of trouble. There are millions of adventurers like Pandora and Eve, who chose curiosity and desire for knowledge at the cost of pleasure of being alive forever. Symbolically, Pandora’s box represents the curiosity and desire for knowledge that can lead to both negative consequences and positive outcomes. The evils inside the box can be seen as the challenges and difficulties of life, while the hope represents the optimism and resilience to overcome those challenges. Previously, evils happened in nature. Today there are social evils. They are countless. Some notable ones are greed, avarice, temptation, and corruption. These evils have also caused crimes such as theft, robbery, and murder. These social evils may not have been caused by Pandora’s box or by the Tree of Knowledge. Instead, they might be the products of our minds, thoughts, and behaviour.
There are different explanations about the root of trouble by different philosophers. Plato argued that the material world is illusory so if we think of it as truth, we will be entangled by worldly troubles. Gautama, the Buddha, suggested that the root of troubles is attachment to worldly affairs. Jan-Jacques Rousseau claimed that troubles have come to humans from society. So, when we go back to nature, all evils go away. Karl Marx blames capitalism for all troubles because the capitalists have a strong desire to hold more than one needs. Gandhi also was in line with almost the same argument. All these arguments have one thing in common – the root of all troubles is selfishness and the desire to possess more than needed.
Importance of mind
Joseph Murphy (2023) offers a psychological explanation for our troubles. He suggests that the root of troubles is being unknown about the power of our subconscious mind. According to this thinker, humans have objective and subjective minds. The objective mind takes cognition of the external world and the subjective mind operates with the inner mind. We think consciously but behave subconsciously. The blend of both makes human thought and behavior positive. Unlike the previous philosophers, Dr. Murphy recognises both aspects of the human mind. He suggests that the root of all troubles even in the contemporary world is the mind itself. So, we need to train it accordingly if we want to be free from troubles.
In Nepal’s case, we are not much serious about the importance of mind and the ethic it creates. Some of us have not even faith in the future of the country, so we have been acting on the ad hoc basis forgetting the arrival of golden times in the future. Yet many of us are waiting for hope to come out of Pandora’s box and it prevails in the contemporary world.
(The author is the chairman of Molung Foundation. email@example.com)