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It seems the new pastime is throwing stones at Greg Mortenson. Everybody loves to hate a tripped-up hero. I personally never thought he was any kind of a superhero and I don't care if he climbed K2 or Mount Jumbo. His premise that to educate girls is the way to advance civilization and stop senseless wars in this essentially Third-World area is right on, and I don't begrudge him any of the money I sent him.

We have trouble understanding a culture that doesn't educate females, where a girl who talks to or looks at the wrong boy can be killed by her family because she has dishonored them, where girls can be bought for wives as young as 10 or 12. We don't understand the tribalism and the warlords. This sounds like the Middle Ages to us. I'm not sure we even understand why anyone lives in a place where almost the only things that grow are buckwheat and poppies.

None of us doubt that Mortenson traveled to these areas and lived with the people, and his books told us that these odd strangers had similar feeling to us. They want a better life for their children, they want jobs for their young men so they stay out of trouble. They want an education for their children, and medical care. Mortenson's idea that women tend to stay in the community and become teachers and nurses, and thus improve the lives of the whole community, is right on.

If Greg Mortenson has done even half of what he said he's done, it is nothing short of a miracle. It's also a better way to make changes in a society than what is going on with the war front.

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Let us continue to educate those girls! Let us stop this war!

Marjorie Harper, Missoula

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