Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fighting Terrorism? Read a Book! Build a School!

Nicholas Kristof reported in his column today that the Pentagon, skeptical of the efficacy of "bombing the terrorists back to the Stone Age," placed "large orders" for Greg Mortenson's wonderful book Three Cups of Tea and invited the author to speak.

This is the most heartening news I've heard in ages. Mortenson's book describes his travails in building what ended up being 74 schools (mostly for girls) in Central Asia. Given that the Taliban recruits mostly from the poor and illiterate, what better way to fight terrorism? Morteson also argues that educated girls are more likely to restrain their sons; five of his teachers are ex-Taliban, encouraged by their mothers to leave the extremist group.

More significantly, I'm thrilled somebody in the government (the Pentagon no less!) is listening to solutions other than macho, hawkish posturing, to look at real educational solutions, not just the superficial, pro-Western propaganda (change their hearts and minds) no one believes.

And, wow, talk about the power of books to bring change. From Martin Luther's 95 theses, to Tom Paine's Common Sense to Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, to Darwin's On the Origin of Species, the written word has demonstrated the power to foment revolution and shift paradigms.

I don't know if Three Cups of Tea can bring about that kind of change, but obviously it's having an influence. Hallelujah, I say.

No comments:

Post a Comment