Last Sunday I had the privilege of hearing Greg Mortenson and his daughter Amira talk about the work he does, building schools in remote areas of Afghanistan. You may have heard of his book, Three Cups of Tea, which details how he got into doing this and what he went through to get the first school built. There are now two newly published versions of this book; one is a young reader’s edition, also titled Three Cups of Tea, and one is a picture book titled Listen To The Wind. His organization is called the Central Asia Institute.
Listening to him, I thought of the opening lines of a Smithsonian article I’d recently read: “We are all pebbles dropped in the sea of history, where the splash strikes one way and the big tides run another, and though what we feel is the splash, the splash takes place only within those tides. In almost every case, the incoming current drowns the splash; once in a while the drop of the pebble changes the way the ocean runs. “* Mr. Mortenson is one of those pebbles that changes the way the ocean runs.
That area of the world is so violent, and has been violent for so long, that adding more violence is just peeing in a rainstorm. We can’t solve anything by sending soldiers, tanks, fighter jets, Predator drones, bombs and machine guns over there. To make things different, people have to do something different, and that is what CAI and Pennies For Peace are doing.
*Gopnik, Adam. “How Lincoln and Darwin Shaped the Modern World”, Smithsonian Magazine, February, 2009.