One of the most inspiring stories I've ever read is Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. It is the story of how one man learned to do great things and help the world by building schools in remote parts of Asia. These areas also happen to be in regions influenced by religious fanatics, including the Taliban. His story shows that there may be hope for the human race. By simply doing simple things, he accomplished impossible tasks.
To see the pictures of small, underfed men carrying 80-pound loads uphill for miles over narrow trails is to know the worth of the human spirit. Because these men were building a future for the children of the village, by giving them a place where they could read and write, and move on to a better life. To read of Greg's story, about how he persevered through setback after setback is to learn what persistence is. And to see the results of what he and the people did is to know what triumph is.
Yet there is more, so much more. For what he has done is to teach peace. In the areas where he goes, he must avoid people with a vested interest in keeping people ignorant, because they need fodder for their religious strife. A person who cannot read and write, educated by extremists only and told what to believe, and who has little chance of making a better life, is a prime recruit type for terrorism. An education gives these people a vested interest in the future, and they consequently reject terrorism for the dead end it is.
Many of the schools teach girls for the first time. Their future before was to get married in the same or a nearby village, raise children, and rarely leave their area. Now they have a chance at an actual career, and doors open that never were before. Many become doctors and teachers, and return to help others in their village.
All this helping of people out of poverty and ignorance came about because of failure. That's right, the dirty word we don't like to discuss. Greg had a mission to climb a mountain in honor of his sister, and he failed to reach the summit. He stumbled into a small, out-of-the-way place where the people took him in and nursed him back to health, and he vowed to build a school to repay them. What would have been a nice tribute instead turned into a global movement, and an awareness of how to improve the world. When he saw the results of his actions, he did more. He realized he could make a real difference, and he has done so. His organizations Central Asia Institute and Pennies for Peace, have raised millions and positively influenced the lives of thousands. You too can make a difference.
I was fortunate enough to hear Greg speak when he came to our town. For a man who has met world leaders and raised millions, you expect something other than what he is: a plain man who speaks from the heart, with the power of love and peace behind him, and believe me, it does move you. Hearing him tell his story makes you want to be a better person. And you can. Check out some of the Helping Others links on my website: www.daletphillips.com
Make a difference…