Want peace, educate the teachers!
In a tiny ancient farming town of Peshawar, the farming practices are as ancient as the city itself. The best facilities are those left behind by the British dynasty. While one can find the tracks, traditions, and warrior mentality of Alexander the Great, Ganghesh Khan, and other conquerors who had to camp in this region of Hindukush before commencing their attack, this ancient city had the privilege to host USIS and a British Council libraries. These libraries served as oasis of modernity and the only major source of modern literature. While other kids spent their weekends flying kites and playing soccer, I could not get enough of these two libraries. Browsing Readers Digest, National Geographic, and The Economist, the works of Sir Arthur Cannondale, and Shakespeare became my favorite past time. Documentaries such as Roots and Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon fueled my imagination. These institutions created a fondness for Western culture and inspired a dream in me. A dream to get advance education in science and technology from U.K. and U.S. and become a part of this civilized world.
What I learned in these libraries was in a stark contrast to what I learned from mullahs. Equivalent to Sunday school teachers in Christian churches, mullahs preach and teach in Mosques and play important role in shaping religious beliefs of Muslim kids. In general, these mullahs come from poor families and no means to get formal education beyond high school. Most Mosques are underfunded and can’t afford to attract educated and talented professionals. Most of what mullahs learn is passed down by the older mullahs. Their perceptions of Christianity and the Western ideologies are often based on dark memories of British colonization, the Hollywood movies, and the Western drug addicts in search for cheap high.
It wasn’t until I attended a Christian church that I realized the level of ignorance and misinformation perpetuated by mullahs. I believe that this ignorance is one of two major root causes of terrorism against the West. If only these mullahs could get modern education and the mosques set higher education standard for religious teachers. Bombing raids on these people will only breed new generation of Osamas and suicide bombers. It is ironic that the U.S. and the British libraries my friends and I benefited from have been closed down after the cold war ended. Wouldn’t it be nice to direct the billions budgeted for war towards attacking illiteracy and ignorance?