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A hope note

I’m enjoying, like many of you, ‘Three Cups of Tea,’ Greg Mortenson’s true story of what happened after he failed in a 1993 attempt to climb K2, the second highest mountain in the world, located in northern Pakistan.
Mortenson got lost during his descent of the mountain. He eventually came upon several local Balti people who took him into their homes. To repay the people for saving his life and nursing him back to health, Mortenson promised to return and build a school for their children.
To date, Mortenson has raised funds to build almost 60 schools, primarily for girls in remote villages of Pakistan who would receive little or no education but for his efforts.
The title of the book comes from an old Balti proverb: ‘First time you sip tea with a Balti you are a stranger. Second time you are a friend. Third time you are family.’ Their compassionate treatment of the American who stumbled half dead into their midst epitomizes the ancient practice of hospitality to strangers.
When the original book was published in 2006, its subtitle was, ‘One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism One School at a Time.’ Fewer than 20,000 bought the book. The publishers changed the subtitle, at Mortenson’s request, when they released it in paperback to, ‘One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace One School at a Time.’ Now it is a best seller. At a talk in Connecticut, reported in the Fairfield Citizen News, Mortenson interpreted: ‘If you just fight terrorism, it’s based in fear. If you promote peace, it’s based in hope.’
It makes you wonder what might happen if we fought extremism in that part of the world with investments in schools more than soldiers, in books more than bombs, in hope more than fear.