Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Unbowed by Wangari Maathai

UnbowedUnbowed by Wangari Maathai
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Around the World: 28 of 52 (Kenya)

Wangari Maathai has an interesting story of growing from a Kikuyu child to a Nobel Peace Prize winner. I grew up surrounded by stories of the Swahili and Turkana peoples of Kenya because of friends we had living there, but I didn't know much about the Kikuyu or the forests. I learned a lot about the socio-political history of Kenya, how to work toward change (be "patient and committed," she would say), and how much one person can accomplish. I also feel like I saw education from a different perspective.

The rest, I'd rather Wangari Maathai said in her own words, so here are the places I marked:

"These experiences of childhood are what mold us and make us who we are. How you translate the life you see, feel, smell, and touch as you grow up - the water you drink, the air you breathe, and the food you eat - are what you become. When what you remember disappears, you miss it and search for it, and so it was with me. When I was a child, my surroundings were alive, dynamic, and inspiring. Even though I was entering a world where there were books to read and facts to learn - the cultivation of the mind - I was still able to enjoy a world where there were no books to read, where children were told living stories about the world around them, and where you cultivated the soil and the imagination in equal measure."

"A general orientation toward trusting people and a positive attitude toward life and fellow human beings is healthy - not only for one's peace of mind but also to bring about change."

"Education, if it means anything, should not take people away from the land, but instill in them even more respect for it, because educated people are in a position to understand what is being lost."

"When we go through profound experiences, they change us. We risk our relationship with friends and family. They may not like the direction we have taken or may feel threatened or judged by our decisions. They may wonder what happened to the person they thought they once knew. There may not be enough space in a relationship for aspirations and beliefs or mutual interests and aims to unfold. For a couple, this is particularly so because most people marry young and are bound to grow and change in their perceptions and appreciation of life."

"Humanity needs to rethink peace and security and work toward cultures of peace by governing itself more democratically, respecting the rule of law and human rights, deliberately and consciously promoting justice and equity, and managing resources more responsibly and accountably - not only for the present but also for the future generations.

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