education > war

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on November 22, 2009

The enemy is ignorance.

3 Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson is the story of one man’s mission to build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It starts off as Mortenson’s gift of gratitude to a remote village that helped him regain his strength after an attempt at climbing K2. As the events of September 11th unfold before his eyes, the story turns into a lesson that America can learn from: invest in education rather than war. By the way, check out More Schools, Not Troops, an Op-Ed piece weighing in on the discussion to send more troops to Afghanistan.

If the Taliban utilizes

The Wahhabi strategy…bringing the brightest madrassa students back to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for a decade of indoctrination, then encouraging them to take four wives when they came home and breed like rabbits

and the students they recruit come from low-income, under-privileged villages, it’s not surprising that the

Wahhabi madrassas…they’re churning out generation after generation of brainwashed students and thinking twenty, forty, even sixty years ahead to a time when their armies of extremism will have the numbers to swarm over Pakistan and the rest of the Islamic world.

Thinking about this makes me question America’s priorities on the home front – the low-income, under-served, under-privileged communities. If we can offer American children a “balanced education and the tools to pull themselves out of poverty”, society would reap the benefits: more open minds, higher educated population, fewer gangs, less violence. People would learn to communicate with words instead of weapons.

I especially agree with Mortenson on this point:

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.

A balanced education is the best strategy available to win the war on ignorance and even the War on Terror. Encourage young minds to think outside the box instead of brainwashing them with them with unlimited time in front of the television or radical Islamic fundamentalism.

I realize this is simple in principle but difficult in execution. Education is a long-term investment in which the gains don’t appear until years later. On the other hand, even if a war wages on for years, there’s at least some evidence to show in the interim, i.e., images of combat and weapons, destroyed communities, orphans and casualties.

Education has given me a lot of opportunities. Granted, the first 12 years were free and I’m paying back student loans from my undergraduate education, but I wouldn’t trade in those years of learning for anything else. Money comes and goes and the current economy proves that job security is fragile. Education is one of those rare gifts no one can ever take away.

This book replenished me with hope. It offered an alternative picture of the Middle East that mainstream media doesn’t provide. I learned about another part of world, its people, and their culture and religion.

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