Monday, February 25, 2013

A New Worth

In this course we have constantly been asking the question “is it worth it?” Touching my Father’s Soul brought about a whole new aspect of the worthiness of climbing a mountain. Norgay talks about how tourism has positively affected the Sherpa communities, but then goes on to talk about the “social upheaval and divisiveness that accompany them” (Norgay, 47) For them, the question is whether the economic prosperity is worth the cultural tension and disruption of relationships it brings. This quote, firstly, made me sad. The fact that many Sherpa’s realities is picking between money or education for their children and pleasing loved ones, is a choice no one should have to make. Help from foreigners is a hard thing to pass up, and Norgay does realize that they do not come with malicious intent. But here is where we, as Westerners, have to think about the domino affect of what we are doing. If we randomly pick certain families to help, then the Sherpa community can never create a self-sustaining lifestyle, so that the money can be produced from within. For Norgay, climbing the mountain serves an economic purpose, but also a religious and familial one. Because his father climbed Everest, he searches for his father’s “soul” in the mountain. However for many Sherpas, climbing separates them from their community, especially on life-threatening climbs. Norgay talks about how both him and his father search for “challenges, excitement, and income” (49) and this mindset is so completely inverse from the Western perspective. People have the “luxury” of paying for a guided adventure.  Don’t get me wrong: climbing a mountain for adventure sake is very admirable to me, I who wish I were more adventurous. But there is something so pure and heartwarming about climbing away from society to get closer to your father. Reading this book I find myself so desperately wanting Norgay to find fulfillment, whether religious, social, or cultural that he seeks.

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree with your last point- I'm absolutely rooting for Norgay to feel any fulfillment!! As for the rest of the post, well I agree with that too, and just thought I'd add the concept of education. Sherpa children who desire (or whose parents desire for them) an education must leave behind the world they know. Norgay deals a lot with how out of place he felt at first when he was being educated in the US, and yet how out of place he now feels in his home culture. Belonging to two different cultures has caused him to feel alienated from both. It seems this is the fate that awaits most children who seek a Western education outside of their community. This is the most likely outcome if foreigners choose to donate money to one family or another. Instead, those in positions to help the Sherpa people should be helping them to improve their own communities, in the hopes that future generations won't have to leave their cultures behind in order to be educated.