Friday, February 5, 2010

Heroes and Inspiration

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.
~Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
A week ago  Ryan and I went to a talk by Greg Mortenson, author of the books Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools. Greg's organization, Central Asia Institute and Pennies for Peace are dedicated to promoting and supporting community-based education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan

Thursday's presentation was held up but weather and Greg seemed a bit flustered but the talk was interesting in any case.

The key point of his message was that education, particularly of girls, is fundamental to eradicating poverty and promoting because it stabilizes population growth, increases a family's income substantially and girls with an education tend to educate their elders and their children in ways educated boys do not. It's also his theory that educated women are less likely to allow/encourage their sons to fight and have the resources to give them other opportunities.

He said that North Americans are basically uneducated about the ways of the world and how those other ways may actually be better than our own. He talked about the transmission of stories and traditions from elders to kids and how in Canada when he asks the question in school about how many kids spend a lot of time with their grandparents or other elders only about 10 percent put up their hands - in the US it is about 5% and in Afghanistan it is about 90%. He encourages kids to study another language and immerse themselves in another culture if they can. He told stories about growing up in Africa in a very diverse culture and coming back to the US where he learned about racism here.

He also talked about how important it was for community buy-in to projects - and for solutions and leadership to come from the community that is being served. He requires something like 5,000 hours of community work in order to fund a school and believes that is one of the reasons that his schools are often left alone by the Taliban - because the community is so invested in it that they protect it with all they have.

The talked confirmed much of what I had already read and knew but the real value was in chatting with Ryan about how one thing can change your life and one person can make such a difference. We got talking about another talk we had been to a few years ago, with Craig Kielberger where the message was basically the same. It's so important to me to provide my kids with inspiration and heroes that portray what really matters.

The greatest personalities that ever existed have been those who united human beings and put them on the road toward cooperation and effectiveness and peace. Those whom the world has held highest have helped to unite and not sever interconnectedness. They have not been the destroyers of differences but the harmonizer of differences.
~ John Lovejoy Elliott

The hero's trail : a guide for a heroic life by TA  Barron,
Paths to peace : people who changed the world by Jane Breskin Zalben, 

Peaceful heroes by Jonah Winter,
The purpose of boys : helping our sons find meaning, significance, and direction in their lives by Michael Gurian,
Heroes and she-roes : poems of amazing and everyday heroes by J Patrick Lewis,
Kidhaven's young hereos series
How to Raise a Hero

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