Now I need something about coffee! It has been kind of interesting to be reading this book during my month-long fast from coffee which has lead me to a morning tea instead.
Much more than that little coincidence, though, I have enjoyed this book thoroughly. I really do admire the courage and tenacity and do-something-ness of Mortenson, even as I mourn the loss of him for his children. They will probably always know their daddy is a great man, but they won't really know him as much as they would like, I'm sure. What a woman his wife must be.
The best thing I took from this work was exactly what it wanted me to take from it - that education of the innocents is the best way to beat the fundamental extremists. And, of course, that Islam is not evil, and all Muslims are not terrorists. I knew this fact intellectually, but it was nice to have some semi-personal encounters with that culture and those communities to better understand it.
I love this moment of realization that Mortenson had during his ritual cleaning and prayer moment at the gas station:
For years, Mortenson had known, intellectually, that the word "Muslim" means, literally, "to submit." And like many Americans, who worshipped at the temple of rugged individualism, he had found the idea dehumanizing. But for the first time, kneeling among one hundred strangers, watching them wash away not only impurities, but also, obviously, the aches and cares of their daily lives, he glimpsed the pleasure to be found in submission to a ritualized fellowship of prayer. (68)
I was also disturbed by the knowledge that we have not done enough to restore normalcy to the people of Afghanistan and that the Taliban continues to grown in strength and numbers despite our best efforts to eliminate their strongholds.
I went to the website for the CAI, but was unbelievably moved by the video on www.thegirleffect.org. I don't want to forget what I've learned.