“This tendency for motion (or for rest) to maintain itself steadily unless made to do otherwise by some interfering force can be viewed as a kind of ‘laziness,’ a kind of unwillingness to make a change.” Issac Asimov
Inertia is defined in physics texts as the tendency of objects to stay in their current state of motion or rest. Although read three centuries after its rediscovery by Isaac Newton, I never realized that the inertia exists outside of the domain of objects whose mass can be measured in grams and kilos. Even the education and experience of two decades in engineering could not teach me how pervasive the reach of this theory was. Thanks to Gyanendra, the then-king of Nepal, I was exposed to a whole new domain of knowledge. The turn of events illustrated by his actions let me discover that human pursuits also have inertia, just like objects with mass, but only more potent and complex. I noticed that my conscience, then moving in its own steady course, had stumbled upon a huge external force that had made me venture outside engineering.
It was 2005 when people who cared about Nepal felt the jolt of a rude awakening. Nepal was heading towards a bloodbath that could have quickly eclipsed all the losses experienced during the decade long armed conflict. Without some drastic measures, averting the coming war seemed impossible. The now dethroned king Gyanendra had seized all powers for himself in a hope of emerging as an absolute ruler on the back of military power propped up by powerful states. But his actions proved extremely unpopular, so much so that even the intellectuals who until then were promoting the state’s version of the Nepalese conflict and siding with the unjust state appeared to feel indignation from the specter of the “bad omen” that was looming larger every passing day. It was as if we were facing a massive earthquake or hurricane – everyone forgot the old grudge and became more concerned for the survival of the society. We were changed forever by this external force exerted upon us.
The power of this external force was so great that the Nepalese Diaspora, who covered the entire political spectrum, were suddenly confronted with this massive wedge that cut them into two camps: pro-monarchists and anti-monarchists. No one could remain indifferent and an intellectual awakening was forced upon us. The most fundamental values each of us have, but are overshadowed in the usual course of life, became prominent due to inner struggle of conscience these events espoused. This turned everything around making what were considered unimportant to be important to us. Born out of this was Canada Forum for Nepal (www.cffn.ca), which committed itself to public discourse and pursuit of information relevant to the contemporary issues of Nepal, with the democracy and republic being in the fore.
I then discovered how applicable the principle of inertia, described in the physics texts, was to human consciousness. Once the thoughts of changes sweep, even indifferent minds become caring and gain momentum in unexpected directions and gather speed.
Our intellectual drive that was conceived with an objective of demolishing the glass-house of monarchy in Nepal was near complete in 2006 (at least from the Diasporas’ perspective) but our concern for the wellbeing of Nepal continues to remain intense. It appears as if Aristotle was writing a metaphor of our mind some 2300 years ago when he said: “For why should it stop here rather than here? So that a thing will either be at rest or must be moved ad infinitum, unless something more powerful gets in its way.” Today, the Diasporas seem more awake than ever before and the eagerness to see the change NOW thrives amongst us, a fortunate consequence for Nepal.
Once in motion in a different trajectory, we are encountering territories never known to us before. Our frontiers keep on changing as Nepal passes through various stages of transitions. However, the utility of the human connections built during this course and the momentum gathered by our journey could not be any less useful. The same momentum that was able to destroy the undesirable could be used to construct what is desirable. Only problem is that a society is an assembly of people for whom freedom is of as much value as of peace and orderliness. Whereas freedom at an intellectual level can give rise to innovations, the orderliness and discipline can maximize the use of the innovations and bring forth a material progress by channeling the people towards a common purpose. In any case, momentum has to be maintained and augmented to sustain the innovation and progress for a considerable period of time.
Many people seem to be singularly focused on freedom with a belief that the progress would naturally follow. However, the freedom’s role is limited to empower an individual by removing constraints from the independent space of each person. Alone, it can inculcate random individual endeavors giving rise to a society that becomes like a slab of iron that cannot work as a magnet despite being composed of billions of magnetic particles. The particles do not make a magnet in totality due to the fact that their magnetic energy is spent on neutralizing each other. That is why it is beneficial for them to encounter powerful external magnetic forces so they realign in a defined direction to give rise to a magnet. And, perhaps the actions taken by Gyanendra were responsible for polarizing the Nepalese society such that it could not remain disunited, directionless, and aimless forever like the particles in the non-magnetized iron slab. They could no longer be dictated by any foolish rulers as in feudal times.
As I am writing these words, the vestige of unproductive feudal rule – the monarchy – has been dealt a mortal blow by the people’s common desire to gain their dignity in Nepal. This clearly indicates that a positive polarization of our society is possible. While we are full of pride as a result of this unity, it is time to utilize this positive energy for shaping the future course of the country. May our common sense prevail and may we capitalize on this enormous opportunity presented by the consciousness of people to give rise to a society where we can nurture the power of the human intellect in each and every individual of our society while maintaining a social order? May we once again build a civilization built on the foundation of inquiry and discourse? May we ride on this momentum to obsolete the need to self-barricade ourselves and emerge as the beacon for the global citizenry of the 21st century?