Latest Reading: Three Cups of Tea – One Man’s Mission To Promote Peace…One School at a Time

I finally got around to reading Greg Mortenson’s book about his work in Pakistan. The book was on the New York Times Bestseller’s list for a long time. I won’t give a summary of the book but a few of my impressions. It was a good time to read the book to coincide with my trip to the Middle East. Mortenson is an “global nomad” having grown up in Tanzania and it shows in his ability to easily adapt to a foreign culture. He is being touted by the US media as the foremost authority of life in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the US military commanders are consulting with him. Is it that hard to take time to learn the language and customs of a country. He dives right into the culture of the Kashmir / Himalaya region by learning Pashtun, wearing the traditional costumes and figuring out the power hierarchy in the villages where he is trying to build schools. I think his global background gave him the mind set to do this very quickly, having grown up in a culture different to his own parents.

My Father-in-Law Buys Dates in a Market in Manama, Bahrain (December 2010)

I just don’t understand why the US foreign service and military doesn’t have an army of Greg Mortensons. It should be mandatory to use long-time in-country expats to understand how the US government form its policies and relationships with other nations. The US should be putting more effort and resources into developing people like him. I feel strongly about maintaining a strong military, but the US should put more into money into programs like Mortenson’s, like building schools in areas that need them. I feel sorry for those kids in the US Armed Forces that have never left the US, being thrown into situations where they need to interact with local civilians. We are going about it all wrong.

My visit to Bahrain the past two weeks has changed my perspective to the Middle East. I know that Bahrain is only a small part of the region, and is known for its tolerance, but this is a region that we can do much more to help, other than military intervention. They Muslims are ordinary people with normal hopes, dreams, fears, emotions, etc. Greg Mortenson has found this out, why don’t more Americans do so also?


2 thoughts on “Latest Reading: Three Cups of Tea – One Man’s Mission To Promote Peace…One School at a Time

  • Interesting Bill. I enjoy learning about other countries through your journeys. Don’t forget that even though the muslims are ordinary people with hopes and dreams, they belong to a religious cult. I don’t know how much choice some of them have in regards to their religion, but nonetheless they belong a violent, power-seeking cult that uses false religion to brainwash the people and control them with fear. It appears that Islam’s goal is to subtly take-over the world, not for conversion sake but rather for power. The way they treat women is appalling-I know you agree. Their man-made Koran is not the peaceful guide that many of them claim, but instead instructs them to kill anyone who does not conform. Of course not all of them follow it so literally, but they don’t stop or speak against those who do. I’ll never understand how they can deceive people into following Islam. Women give up all rights and freedoms, while men get all the power- through violence and fear. So even though they may be ordinary people with hopes and fears, their connection to Islam casts suspicion on them. They cannot be viewed like any other religious group because their foundation is so corrupt, and clearly not of God. For there is only one true God, the God of the Bible, and He is a God of love and forgiveness, not fear and violence and suppression. We just need to convince all of the muslims of this. Not because we believe this, but because it’s the truth.

    • Hope,

      I am glad that you are enjoying the blog. I am not so much against Islam, but I don’t like how the fundamentalist part of the faith has dictated cultural and political mores in Bahrain. It is more secular than Saudi Arabia, but with many of the Middle East countries, there is no separation of church and state. Religious beliefs of the more fervent believers are forced upon the more moderate and secular Arabs. The fanatics have also given Islam a bad image in the west. Most of the Islamic people I’ve met were nice, but I don’t agree with much of their cultural and religous practices. I agree that it is silly to have women covered up all day, etc.

      It was sad to hear about Uncle Dan. He was a nice fellow. I’ll make it a point to see your mother when I come back to the US next summer. I like that she reminds me of my mother, who I miss dearly. How is your son doing? Send me an email, I’d love to hear from you.

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