Reading produces extraordinary moments that trigger interesting ideas. I am reading Three Cups of Tea and Hitch22 at the same time. Last week, my reading brought me to a precise convergence: September 11, 2001. I read Dr. Greg’s and Christopher’s personal accounts of that historic day. On 9/11 both men were separated from their families: Dr Greg was in Pakistan, his family in Montana; Christopher was in California, his family in Washington, D.C. Uncertainty and fear touched their lives at the same time as it did for all of us. Dr. Greg could not assure his wife that he was safe; Christopher’s wife broke the news that, in the chaos, she could not reach their daughter at school.
History is best written by those who have lived during a specific time period or dramatic event. And yet, even the most objective eye-witness cannot know the entire narrative or understand the underlying reasons, much less the consequences that inevitably follow. But we can determine how we will react. When fear and anger came their way, Dr. Greg used his hands to build schools and Christopher used words to build understanding.
“If we try to resolve terrorism with military might and nothing else, then we will be no safer than we were before 9/11. If we truly want a legacy of peace for our children, we need to understand that this is a war that will ultimately be won with books, not with bombs.”
— Greg Mortenson (Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… One School at a Time)
“Who are your favorite heroines in real life? The women of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran who risk their lives and their beauty to defy the foulness of theocracy. Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Azar Nafisi as their ideal feminine model.”
— Christopher Hitchens (Hitch-22: A Memoir)