Sunday, February 08, 2009

Offering education can fight "terrorism"

Several years ago, I read a book called Children in Danger, by James Garbarino. I was amazed at his comparison of children in war zones of third world countries to the experiences children in the inner city of the United States of America face. The similarities were striking.

As I was reading Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortensen's comments about children in Pakistan made me, once again, think of the striking similarities between our inner cities and third world countries.

It also made me think of our absurd ignorance.

Here is an excerpt:
A Republican congressman from California interrupted Mortenson in midsentence, challenging him. "Building schools for kids is just fine and dandy," Mortenson remembers the congressman saying. "But our primary need as a nation now is
security. Without security, what does all this matter?"

Mortenson took a breath. He felt an ember of the anger he'd carried all the way from Kabul flare. "I don't do what I'm doing to fight terror," Mortenson said, measuring his words, trying not to get himself kicked out of the Capitol. "I do it because I care about kids. Fighting terror is maybe seventh or eighth on my list of priorities. But working over there, I've learned a few things. I've learned that terror doesn't happen because some group of people somewhere like Pakistan or Afghanistan simply decide to hate us. It happens because children aren't being offered a bright enough future that they have a reason to choose life over death.
In my work in the inner city, I, too, have learned a few things. Much like Mortenson, I have learned that the kids in the inner city aren't any different from other children. They don't grow up wanting to be prostitutes pimped out by their mothers or drug dealers who will spend a lifetime with a felony on their record. They are no more born to be violent than any other child. They do not simply decide to become criminals, hoping to terrorize people.

For the very same reason Mortenson spoke of, those characteristics and acts are results of children with lots of potential not being offered a bright enough future that they have a reason to choose life over prison or death.

Why can't we recognize this??
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