Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time Themes

Greg Mortenson


Building bridges between cultures is definitely a theme that Mortenson uses in his life as well as in his philosophy. One of the most dominant powers behind Mortenson's work is to see people of different cultures through their humanity rather than through the customs. People can live their lives in different ways, can believe in different gods, and speak different languages, but underneath these surface elements, Mortenson believes people all over the world are connected by similar beliefs. One of those beliefs is that children need to be educated.

In his attempts to understand cultures different from his own, Mortenson donned the clothes that the Pakistani people wore. He learned several new languages that were spoken in the various villages. And he also learned the basic elements and practices of their Muslim religion, even though he considered himself a Christian. Some of the toughest lessons for Mortenson was to learn patience. As an American, Mortenson tended to want to see things come about quickly. He was willing to work long hours, pushing himself to complete tasks. But this was not the way the people in some of the Pakistani villages worked. The more Mortenson pushed them, the more they resisted his efforts. So his mentor, Haji Ali had to inform him that he needed to learn to allow the Pakistani people to do things as they always did them. Things come slowly to the people of the mountains, who could trace their ancestry back hundreds if not thousands of years. So in his efforts to build bridges across the cultures, Mortenson learned to adjust. He promotes this concept not only through the words he uses in the telling of his story but also in his deeds and in the way he treats the people that he meets.

Fighting terrorism is another theme in Mortenson's book. He is completely at odds with the way that the U.S. government has attempted to fight terrorism. Using weapons, which often kill innocent people, only incites more terrorism, he...

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