Posts Tagged ‘war’

Extended sympathies

May 28, 2012

A Memorial Day dream, or pure fantasy? Depends on how many of us share and spread the cooperation meme. Andrew Revkin imagines a time when humans will war no more. Darwin did too:

“As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.” Descent of Man

A Memorial Day for War’s Fallen, Perhaps Someday for War Itself? –

Greg Mortenson

January 16, 2010

Seeing Greg Mortenson with Bill Moyers last night reminded me of my brief but inspiring conversation with Greg when he came to speak at our school in August ’08. I made a Flip-cam recording of his convocation address to the new freshmen that day which I then shared with my Dad a few days later, just a few days before his death. Dad was inspired too.

The author of Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools has a simple, powerful message: human beings reaching  across national, cultural, religious and other divisions to help other human beings is a far more effective and humane strategy for promoting peace (and opposing terrorism) than armed intervention. The cost of maintaining one soldier in Afghanistan for a year could educate thousands upon thousands of Afghans away from the indoctrinating snares of militant Islam (but not from that tradition’s nobler aspirations) and towards better lives of peaceful coexistence. That’s what Mortenson is doing. He is a courageous, visionary man. Like many others, I’d hoped the new president would read Mortenson and be guided by his vision. It’s not too late. But it’s late.

I’ll always recall Dad’s warm and positive reaction to my little video as emblematic of his own deepest instincts towards humanitarianism and empathy and compassion. He’d have enjoyed last night’s show, and we’d have taken another step towards closing the political gap between us.