Monday, October 4, 2010
"The enemy is ignorance"
This is a very inspiring story. Mortenson has sacrificed much for a noble cause and it's nice to be reminded that a compassionate approach can be effective when the war efforts we hear in the news seem to be going nowhere. If we truly hope to help the people - and bring ALL our troops home - we need to combat the ignorance that terrorism feeds upon and show the area's people that we can rebuild as well as destroy. The impression we usually get is that we're up against the most intolerant religion imaginable, and it's good to hear that they don't all believe and think that way.
Unfortunately, it's also a rather poorly-written story. Although Mortenson is listed as the author, it's told by journalist David Relin who seems fond of flowery and overly descriptive drama that borders on fiction and strains the book's credibility at times. The ending sounds like a campaign for a Nobel Peace Prize but I think Mortenson will win no awards for Husband and Father of the Year as he comes off neglectful of his own wife and children back home. At one point the book discusses the stress and strain on his wife, but then quickly drops the subject in favor of more talk of her admiration for his work. The photo of their family Christmas card was a bit shocking (dressed in robes in Pakistan with their new baby girl and holding Kalashnikov rifles), and I couldn't help but suspect a vague undercurrent of anti-Americanism throughout.
But then again, maybe I'm just imagining things and if you can get past the overwrought prose it's not a bad message. And when it seems there's no end in sight for the wars we're fighting, maybe we need a different approach - one more like Mortenson's.