Thursday, April 21, 2011

Scandal and Three Cups of Tea

This week's news of the potential criminal activities of Greg Mortenson, author of the book Three Cups of Tea and one of the founders of the Central Asia Institute has been weighing heavily on my heart.  If you haven't read the book, do.  It's a wonderful story full of something we could all use a little more of-- compassion.

When I first set out to write this morning I was completely outraged by Jon Krakauer and 60 Minutes for breaking the story that Greg Mortenson's book "wasn't honest."  All I could think was, "those a--holes!  This is a man who has dedicated his life to bringing a education (something we as Americans take for granted) to thousands of young people in a war ravaged area of the world."

I was living in Helena, MT with David in 2008 when I read the book, and I was so inspired by it that I wanted to drive to Bozemen, to meet with Mortenson to get on board with his efforts, but thought better of it because the end of the book he discussed how he had to change his phone number and get a PO Box because so many people were calling him for both good and bad reasons.  I didn't want to be one of those annoying fans, so I contributed money to his cause instead.  A cause I still believe is a honorable one.

I pulled up the "offensive articles" to post on my blog as evidence of their frivolity and silliness, but as I skimmed through them, I realized there was more to the story than I originally understood.  Jon Krakauer had a very valid point... actually lots of them.  More than that, he'd actually donated $75K toward the CAI, because he'd believed in it so much.

From the looks of it, Mortenson's good deeds are far out weighed by his bad ones.  He refused to be accountable to anyone, and blatantly ignored his board and the fiscal laws of this country.  He lied, he cheated, and he let down a lot of people in the process.  Basically he is yet again a perfect example of an "Ugly American" taking advantage of people just because he could.

Speaking to my husband about it today after work, I mentioned to David that I was so willing to look past the fact that the book wasn't all true because of the greater good he was doing in Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc.  David actually got angry at my willingness to look past the dishonesty of Mortenson's story.  David's perspective is that if Mortenson isn't honest, why should anyone be?  David has agreed to be a guest blogger for tomorrow on his views, so I'll let him speak for himself.

I will admit he has a point.  But in the end, I guess I want to believe that the lie the Mortenson told was not meant to harm anyone... I want to believe he really meant to do good, even if it took at fantastical story to get people off their butts to do it.

This New York Times Article best voices my hope and opinion of the situation:  I hope more than anything we as a people don't get disillusioned by the greed that power and money breed, and we can continue to support good causes like this one set out to be.

xox - A

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