Just finished an incredible book, Three cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. After failing to climb K2, and wondering into a remote Pakistani village, Three Cups of Tea is the story of how Mr. Mortenson becomes so taken by the integrity despite surrounding corruptions, hospitality despite crushing poverty, and hope, despite a history of abandonment, displayed by the residents of this tiny village, that he promises to return and build them a school.
This promise sets in motion of series of events that would lead him to eventually build nearly 55 schools all over the incredibly remote regions of Pakistan, where simultaneously the masterminds behind the extremist Taliban movement were seeking to establish there own centers for jihadist education and mass recruitment.
The historical and cultural information alone make it a fascinating read. But more than that, I wept so many times while reading the book, because I realized that somewhere in my soul, a mistrust and fear of Muslims has been growing, and not only that, a prejudice against them. With a very wide brush I had begun to paint huge generalities over them in my mind – born more out of ignorance than anything else.
As I began to fall in love with the Muslims Mr. Mortenson was working alongside, I sensed God’s conviction about my prejudices and fears. I also sensed God’s pleasure in seeing these beautiful Muslim children receiving the gifts of quality education and resources.
This book also deepened my conviction that education is really the key to combating terrorism. When given the choice to either starve in a poor and destitute community, or join a group that provides not only money, but social power and significance, what would you choose? How open to extremist vision and influence would you be if you were facing a life without any hope of improving your circumstances in any reputable manner? If you were hungry, would you steal bread?
It has left me in a funny place. I went online to see what I could do to contribute to the organization formed to continue this work of building schools in these remote areas, and one suggestion was to simply recommend the book via your blog. Check.
Stop by the website too if you are interested in knowing more about the foundation started by Greg Mortenson and his continuing work. The link for the book is www.threecupsoftea.com and the link for the Central Asia Institute is www.ikat.org
I sense, however, something more will come from this for me. The people in this book have opened a door in my heart. I wonder where this will go.