As the global security continues to worsen because of terrorists’ threat to the world, there has been a plethora of methods to counter the looming perpetration of grievous terrorism. Countries often participate in providing collective security, military bombardment of countries that support terrorism, port blockades, and economic sanctions amongst others.
Seldom does the world see dialogue between countries and terror groups intended to have a peaceful resolution. However, some people feel that the cost of war, blockades, economic sanctions amongst other means of combating terror often cause suffering to innocent civilians.
They advocate for peaceful resolution of problems like proposing having peace deals and using other friendlier means to stop terrorism. Mexican adage says that one can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Hostility has previously found much use with no significant positive outcomes.
However, as the paper unveils, though there exist several ways of fighting terrorism, Mortenson’s argument in the book Three Cups of Tea reveals the use of education as the best way of doing it.
Greg Mortenson tells the world his story through his book Three Cups of Tea. This book was an inspiration from the lessons he learnt from his stay at a small village in Afghanistan.
He intended to climb the second tallest mountain in the world to honor his sister Christa but did not make it; he got ill and had to retreat to a nearby village. Korphe was a small village in Pakistan inhabited by Balti ethnic group (Mortensen, and Relin 23).
The community nursed him until he was well. One day he asked the villagers of a school. They felt terribly embarrassed and were reluctant to take him to one. However, when they finally did, what Mortenson saw tremendously moved him: a group of children seated in dirt writing with sticks in sand.
There were only seven slate boards worth sharing among 84 students. He felt a strong desire to help. He felt the need to raise the spirit to inspire fresh hope in these children. He realized at that moment that he had to return to Pakistan someday and build a school to honor Christa since he had failed to reach the mountaintop (Mortensen, and Relin 29).
Building a school to fight terror is a unique strategy because it is obvious that terrorism has an amorphous nature, it can arise from other reasons them manifest itself in a remarkably different form (Ali 542). Organizing hostile war on terror is immensely complicated.
The world works on principles with many roots like religious beliefs, culture, education self-identity and creativity (Berrebi 1). Aggressive war relies mainly on power schemes, without which war on terror was impossible. Religion has been used in the by Popes to control Europe.
However, with the fall of communism, new powers have emerged. Education offers the best means of giving extremists what they need most: a premise for integration and removal of their colonialism mentality (Mortensen, and Relin 123).
With Pakistan being one of the countries in the world deemed to be staunch supporters of terrorism, Mortenson was bound to face some serious challenges in bringing humanitarian support to a village in the country (Mortensen, and Relin 73).
Mortenson notes that education was power and a whopping motivator for achieving significant heights in life since it would empower the communities and help connect to the world (Ali 543).
He perceived that the reason why terrorism was breeding so much in villages of Afghanistan was due to lack of better education (Berrebi 3). He wanted to replace guns with pens, rhetoric with reading and believed that the ultimate change would be better-informed community able to stand on its own, make crucial decisions based on informed reasons.
Mortenson believed that terror groups exploited indigenous communities because of illiteracy, poverty situations and connection to the outside world to lure them into terror group activities (Ali 542). To him, seeing a girl in the village go to school was akin to the experience of the first man landing on the moon.
The villages were full of Islamic extremists who strongly believe in the holy war hence it would take years of steadfast work and determination to convince conservative Islamic mullah to encourage girl literacy in the community. The biggest accomplishment for Mortenson was to see girls get education.
Many changes would come from that. Educated girls would tend to have lesser children like three or four compared to eight to ten by their parents (Mortensen, and Relin 92). They would be reduced infant mortality because they would have a better understanding of health care and hygiene and interestingly the dowry for an educated girl would be higher.
With what terrorists have turned into, education is the best weapon. Defeat will take generations. The main challenge is capturing individual terrorists, dismantling their networks, arresting and destroying financiers, and stopping weapons supply (Berrebi 6). One can achieve this objective and unavoidable task without stripping people of their identity or making it seem like robbery – education (Frey, and Luechinger 123).
Mortenson targeted girls mostly, which was a significant idea because traditionally, education went to boys, with girls left home to help their mothers in taking care of the home. There are three fundamental things that Mortenson feels are pertinent to educating girls:
- There would be a significant reduction in population explosion
- The infant mortality rate would reduce tremendously
- The quality of health would improve (Frey, and Luechinger 129).
From a popular saying in Africa, he learnt that educating a girl child was akin to education the entire community. Girls tend to remain in the community to apply their knowledge there, hence, benefitting more people compared to boys who went out to seek employment.
However, the most influential reason was the role women played in times of war and terror attacks (Ali 546). The seemingly underreported fact in western media is that a man would always ask his mother for permission to join jihad.
The importance of girl education would play a crucial role here. An educated mother will be less likely to support terror activities and would stop her son from joining terror groups. Education is usually powerful, as it offers alternative to impoverished, illiterate communities, which are recruiting targets for terror groups (Frey, and Luechinger 128).
Educated Mullahs control a tremendously big area in Pakistan’s rural villages. Their diktats are strong. Educating the communities will be disempowering Mullah. It will not use false information to its advantage to rally for support and more recruits (Frey, and Luechinger 132).
The three cups of tea was a hugely fundamental lesson for Mortenson. According to his story, it usually takes time to achieve something yet Americans wanted immediate outcomes and were not patient. The metaphor of three cups of tea, is given by Hajj Ali, a tribal leader, Mortenson met in Pakistan (Mortensen, and Relin 24).
The first cup of tea shared with a stranger was customarily a gesture of respect. By the time one gets to share a third cup of tea with the community, he/she has already become a friend and part of the family. This has been the strategy used by Mortenson to construct schools in Pakistan.
He previously had to endure serious obstacles and challenges in one point claiming to have suffered captivity and torture from the forces in Pakistan. However, he remained passionate and persistent in his endeavor (Mortensen, and Relin 113).
He started a foundation called Central Asian Institute, which has now grown to be big, constructing hundreds of secular schools across Pakistan, as opposed to traditional madrasas where children only went to study religion – Islam (Mortensen, and Relin 93).
Education is empowering future generation by giving them fresh hope and life skills that will help them rebuild their already destroyed villages. By using his book, Three Cups of Tea, Mortenson hopes that the ultimate outcomes would be international peace and defeat of terrorist groups.
Educating children, boys and girls and not giving them bombs and edicts, will achieve this goal (Mortensen, and Relin 135). He also hopes the book inspires younger generations not to seek to fight terror by aggressive means, which could have dire repercussions.
Fighting terror based on fear causes more retaliation. However, upon basing the fight on hope, it promotes peace. Ignorance is the worst enemy. When it breeds from hatred, consequences can be calamitous. One can overcome this ignorance by kindness, as well as building hope by educating children.
Strategies of soft power like Mortenson’s schools are better than bombing Pakistan. Addressing nobility of humanitarian intervention stands out as one of the best practices to transform a community of extremists positively.
Ali, Nosheen. Books Vs Bombs? Humanitarian Development and the Narrative of Terror in Northern Pakistan. Third World Quarterly 31. 4 (2010): 541-559.
Berrebi, Claude. Evidence about the Link between Education, Poverty and Terrorism among Palestinians. Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy 13.1 (2007): 1-36.
Frey, Bruno, and Simon Luechinger. How To Fight Terrorism: Alternatives To Deterrence, 2002. Web.
Mortenson, Greg, and David Relin. Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace: A One School At a Time. New York: Penguin Group, 2006. Print.