Thursday, April 15, 2010

Three Cups of Tea // Day Nineteen Leaving Car at Home

I just finished the book Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Relin. It was a great book and I wrote the following review:

I usually don’t like to keep on rating books five stars, but this one is well deserved! Mortenson and Relin weave a powerful story about a true American hero!

This book seems to be a fitting complement to a recent book I finished called the Ugly American. Three Cups of Tea and the Ugly American juxtapose the issue of spreading positive US diplomacy.

I am an American Service man, and hearing how Greg combats terrorism really makes me feel good and makes me see that there is another way that we are totally missing.

There are two sides to any story and even two sides to any solution and this story paints a humble story of Greg making good on his promise to build a school (grew into many schools) after a community came to his aid after a failed attempt to scale K2.

I really enjoyed the explanation of the title of the book when Relin wrote these fine words of when Greg was talking to a tribal leaders and about how he needed patience when working with the people of Norhern Pakistan, he said, “If you want to thrive in Baltistan you must respect our ways. The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family, and for our family, we are prepared to do anything, even die.” I saw this same sentiment when I was deployed as an advisor with an Iraqi Infantry Battalion. What a lesson to learn, but more than tea, it is a lesson in patience, and an understanding on how they look at time. I cannot explain the radical difference time has in their country effectively enough because it is something one has to experience over time to get the full understanding, however, Relin does a pretty good job of trying to explain it.

There was another powerful passage that I have to mention. Again Morteson was receiving counsel on how to fight extremism when he was told the following, “Osama is not a product of Pakistan or Afghanistan. He is a creation of America. Thanks to America Osama is in every home. As a military man, I know you can never fight and win against someone who can shoot at you once and then run off and hide while you have to remain eternally on guard. You have to attack the source of your enemy’s strength. In America’s case that’s not Osama or Saddam or anyone else. The enemy is ignorance. The only way to defeat it is to build relationships with these people, to draw them into the modern world with education and business. Otherwise the fight will go on forever.”

There are so many tidbits of wisdom throughout the book which make it a real gem and a joy to read. Also, the rest of the story about where CAI is headed today makes the book even more impressive. I would expect Greg to be nominated and possibly be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Having said all that, I was a little thrown off by the writing style. I’m no English expert and normally I’m not distracted by pulpy writing style, but Relin made the topic feel forced by making some of the descriptions feel overly flowery. Furthermore, the third person description of Greg seemed out of place. I would have liked it more if Relin would have simply wrote as Greg. We all would have known that Relin was writing, but with the third person style it felt very strange and distracting, but it didn’t take away from the great content, which is what we are reading it for in the first place, so I don’t want to come across as too critical.

I ran to and from work today and then to and from the gym for a total of 10.4 miles today.  I'm suffering from some back pain and will go see the doctor tomorrow in order to see if I can get a few pills or get some advice on how to make it feel better.  I also made it to the pool for the second day in a row.  I'm trying to do anything to make this back feel better including really doing some core work and stretching.  Maybe it will work out. 

Also, saw this picture which got me laughing.  Go to this link if you want a good laugh about stupid people with signs (mostly Tea Party idiots, but not limited to them).  It is too bad this person is from the state I grew up in, but there is a reason I left Oklahoma.  Oh have you heard about their soon to be Governor who wants to stand up to the Federal Government, even if by a militia.  What a dolt, basically calling for civil war.  Why don't people who hate the situation of the nation focus their efforts on upcoming elections and get over themselves?  I almost can't wait for the balance of power to shift so the blaming can go the other way.  It seems to be a huge mess that no matter who is in charge will have a very hard time.  We simply have too many entitlements right now and less wage earners to make up for the shortfall in revenue.  I would think the lionshare of these people who complain about the spending are on some type of government assistance and if you talked about cutting it back they would have a cow.....they deserve it.  I'm a veteran and I know for a fact that the VA is full of fraud or 30% plus disable benefits going to hordes of people who do not need the assistance or their disability has been exaggerated, and that is just VA, don't get me started on all the other entitlement programs.  Anyway, I'm willing to pay a little extra and do my part to help get this country on the right track, but it seems like so many people are so up in arms and want to pay less (how the hell is paying less taxes going to help with the very thing they are complaining about...huge deficits?).  I rarely hear someone saying, "Let us come together and pay more in taxes and cut spending".  It seems only to be a fight.  Oh well, I'm just a small potatoe in the big picture. 

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