...Feeling slightly upset and contemplating ALL that I believe.
Going into class this morning, I never expected to be so affected by this discussion. After looking at some discussion questions the class got caught up on the topic of the line between acceptance and respect. Some in the class believed that Mortenson had crossed the line into accepting Islam rather than respecting it. Some also felt that Mortenson's actions were inappropriate and that he was only learning Muslim prayer to gain an 'in' to their culture.
I don't know what else to say...but I couldn't disagree more. The line between acceptance and respect is much like the equator. You know that the line is there, yet there is no blunt line just and area where the sun shines more often and it's warmer.
I DO NOT think that Mortenson crossed any line in what he did in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I feel that he was there to absorb the culture of the Balti people and put himself in their shows so he can truly understand why a school meant so much to them. As the process of constructing the school begins, it becomes evident that the Balti people are the ones who are truly making the schools come and stay alive. They are enriching themselves.
This started to remind me of Tending to Eden by Scott Sabin. Sabin was all about getting to the very root of the problem. How the cycle of poverty will forever continue until the very issue of it is solved. In Haiti it is the struggle with the agriculture, once Haitians learn how to replant their forests and understand how to work with the land they need to rely on, their problems slowly begin to disperse away. Much like what Mortenson is doing with the Balti people. He learns and lives with them all he can to put him in their shoes and understand why they feel the importance to have a school. Mortenson showed the Balti people that they could have a school; they took it from there and did everything to help him and learn to enrich them. A quote from the book that stands very true with my beliefs and the act of going to the source of the problem reads, "Community and a close relationship with the land can enrich human life beyond all comparison with material wealth or technological sophistication."
This quote is from Helena Norberg-Hodge and her book Ancient Futures.
The Balti people are all about dealing with the land they live on and adapting to its conditions. By having a school that they are building; not some Christian ministers, on their own. It allows them to feel that they aren't just being given a school but they are building up their community and giving their children a chance to overcome the extremist Islam groups.
Like I stated earlier in this post, my views have been not only widely affected by the book, but by the discussion as well. At this point I have many questions for myself about my own faith and beliefs. What Mortenson did really speaks to me. The fact that he was willing to give up everything to be able to build one school shows that whether he is or isn't working for Christ what he did is still a great accomplishment.