Contributing to peace on earth through CARE

In his powerful and eloquent Nobel Prize lecture, President Obama, exploring the chasm between our hopes for peace and the reality of war, exhorted his audience to continue striving for a just and peaceful world.

“. . . We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place. The non-violence practiced by men like Gandhi and King may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached — their fundamental faith in human progress — that must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey. . .

“Let us reach for the world that ought to be. . .”, the president said.

Obama’s speech was inspiring but short on details for those of us who don’t control the levers of state. How do we “reach for the world that ought to be” in an era of airplane bombers with explosives in their underwear or shoes? What can the average citizen do to help bring about peace on earth and goodwill to all men (and women)?

Dr. Helene Gayle, who heads CARE, believes her Atlanta-based agency has one answer: build schools in the world’s troubled regions, including Afghanistan. Educating children, including girls, helps to lift people from poverty, which, in turn, contributes to stability and peace.

Education is no peacemaking panacea, of course. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian suspected of attempting to blow up an American passenger jet on Christmas Day, is well-educated, having grown up in a prosperous family. Similarly, Osama bin Laden grew up affluent and was given an education. Still, many experts on the developing world believe that only an educated citizenry can build the civil institutions that contribute to stability and respect for the rule of law.

In a country like Afghanistan, where tradition has long denied opportunity to women, educating girls is especially important. “In the end, having a more balanced society in Afghanistan is important to peace and security,” Dr. Gayle told me.

“One of our niche areas is setting up schools where girls can make up for times they’ve lost” during periods when the Taliban denied them education” she said. “We have classes that allow girls to catch up with their age cohort. We also make sure that things like toilet facilities for girls are provided.”

The most encouraging news about the schools that CARE supports in Afghanistan — nearly 300, so far —  is that none of them have been attacked by the benighted forces that oppose girls’ education or by insurgents who have gone after schools built by the Afghan government. A report released last month by aid organizations and the Afghan government — “Knowledge on Fire: Attacks on Education in Afghanistan” — documented an “alarming trend” of violence against schools. As a result, hundreds of schools were closed and parents in some regions hesitated to send their children to schools that remained open.

Because of CARE’s community-based approach, Dr. Gayle said, “We’ve been able to keep our schools up and running. (Communities) feel that this is their school, not a government school.”

While Dr. Gayle worries that a return of the Taliban could once again eradicate girls’ schooling, she hopes that communities will push against that antediluvian view. “Hopefully, there’s been a long enough period of time when girls have been educated that families have seen the value,” she said.

In his Nobel acceptance speech, Obama paid tribute to the power of education.

“Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child, scrapes together what few coins she has to send that child to school — because she believes that a cruel world still has a place for that child’s dreams,” he said.

I don’t expect malevolent men to beat their swords into plowshares any time soon, but I haven’t given up my hopes for a less violent world. Supporting the modest ambitions of a mother who wants to educate her child —  by supporting agencies like CARE ( — is one of the ways that average citizens like me can keep alive the dream of peace on earth and goodwill to all.

11 comments Add your comment

Chris Broe

December 30th, 2009
7:55 am

Wait a minute. Does the CARE dollars pay for any underwear? Great Cynthia. Lets buy all those terrorist-in-waiting underwear so they can blow up what few planes we have left. What’s with you lately? It’s like you joined Al Queda on Christmas break or something. Like, you’ve gone totally Osamalicious!

Word out. Beeyayatch!

(We now return you to the usual 24/7 365 commentary which reminds us, 24/7 365, that Cynthia is the racist, not the White Aryan hoods who make their points here, 24/7 365, from the Bookman blog.)

Craptastic Cynthia

December 30th, 2009
8:04 am

Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize is as phoney as Cynthia’s Pulitzer.

Craptastic Cynthia

December 30th, 2009
8:05 am

Neither were based on merit.


December 30th, 2009
8:09 am

” Still, many experts on the developing world believe that only an educated citizenry can build the civil institutions that contribute to stability and respect for the rule of law.”

Respect for the rule of law?????

Let us hope that the developing countries have better luck in this regard than our own litigious society.

Road Scholar

December 30th, 2009
8:38 am

“How do we “reach for the world that ought to be” in an era of airplane bombers with explosives in their underwear or shoes? ”

Think globally; act locally!

jt: I agree about our society being litigious.

Last night I went to dinner and heard his: A gentlemen ordered a dozen oysters and a martini at the bar. He then took both to his table. He then came back to the bar and told (not asked) the bartender for anothr martini since he had spilled his while carrying it to his table!Personal responsibility at its best! I didn’t know they were suppose to give free do-overs!


December 30th, 2009
9:26 am

good article ct..these schools do more good than we’ll ever know.

Turd Ferguson

December 30th, 2009
9:37 am

These schools do so much good! Teaching muslim propoganda and educating these children on the subject of hating the USA. My charitable dollars will not go to educating a group of ingrates who, at some later date will return with bombs of thanks.


December 30th, 2009
9:51 am

What a novel concept. The school is run by the community rather than the government, and the adults in the community have a vested interest in seeing that school prosper. Maybe we should try that here sometime.

Logical Dude

December 30th, 2009
11:55 am

Turd, um, how ignorant can you actually be?
Educating them makes them LESS likely to turn to terrorism. Do you even know a little bit about CARE? How they work? What they do?
In your ignorance, I now understand that you see no need in educating anyone. And that is tragic.


December 30th, 2009
4:52 pm

Powerful and eloquent is a little strong. It was certainly good.

Hats off to CARE. I would only suggest they might want to use some of their resources here. We’ve got to improve the education of our underclass to break the cycle of poverty and stop the immigration of better qualified workers. Not to mention the outsourcing of good jobs.

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