On that note, may I recommend a must-read, "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson. Although the title might not reveal much to you until you read it, I consider it the most feel-good, amazing and inspiring book I have ever read...and it is a true story. (And there is also a young readers' version, as well as a read-aloud version for smaller children.)
Many of you have probably already read it since it has been on the NY Times bestseller list for 3 years (and now the sequel, "Stones into Schools", is out). It is the true story of Greg Mortenson, mountain climber turned humanitarian extraordinaire. When he failed an attempt to climb K-2 which was intended to memorialize his sister who had died at 23, and he unexpectedly ended up lost in a remote Pakistan village, the course of his future was changed. After the villagers took in the dirty lost American and fed him from their meager resources, he vowed to do something for them. What they wanted most was a school, and the rest is history since many of the remote villages in Pakistan and Afghanistan wanted a school too. He has risked his life repeatedly to fulfill these dreams, and the story reads like an action-packed novel as he built one school, then dozens of schools, and now well over 100 (with the emphasis on schooling females who have traditionally not been educated in these cultures). And this is a man without resources of his own.
Read this book, and be inspired. Read this book and understand the complexities of the Pakistan and Afghan cultures. Rejoice in the fact that the US military consults with Greg Mortenson and that Three Cups of Tea is required reading for many military personnel who go into this region.
After reading this book, I was so humbled that I vowed to find my own ways to help by donating a bit to the school-building (which is really the only way to fight radicalism in a country with nearly 90% illiteracy rate), and by finding my own service here at home. Despite our interconnectedness through email, Facebook, etc, we need to remember that we are beings who learn from each other and help one another by being face to face, remembering the humanity of each other. As Plato said, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
On that note, I'm off to the studio which is now clean and organized. Dear husband Nils cleaned the tool bench and pottery area after I got my uncontrolled section somewhat corralled. A very good way to start the new year.
My best to all of you. New art photos coming soon. Have a new year filled with peace, love, good health, and lots of art.
(Photo: Collage by Diane Lou, "Societe Anonyme". Prints available.)