‘3 cups of tea….and a teaspoon of saccharine’

An imbroglio over fund raising and support for a service organization called ‘Pennies for Peace’ won’t go away easily.

This follows a recent news report on the CBS program “60 Minutes” that questioned the accuracy of a narrative that has inspired hundreds of thousands of people and helped to raise millions of dollars for the building of 54 schools in Afghanistan.

The author of this non-fiction story is Greg Mortenson, a quiet and softly spoken IB alumni. He has addressed communities of school children, church groups, conventions, and conferences including IB leaders and teachers all over the globe with his story of educational service.

Because Mortenson’s social service projects are based in Afghanistan there are political overtones to the “success” of the narrative. Senior Pentagon officials were asked for comments after the CBS report was aired but they are declining to do so.

The report lends itself to some interesting discussions, particularly those of the ‘TOK flavor’.

Who bears the responsibility to check facts in the bookselling industry?

Does a narrative become less valid or even unethical if it contains an additive that’s artificial or fabricated?

Inspiration or truth  – what is more important?

How much absolute truth and transparency is necessary in community service projects?

Care to add to this discussion list?

1 Comment
  • Eileen Dombrowski
    May 5, 2011

    I won’t add to your discussion list here, Steve, but must say that I think it’s an enticing one viewed through TOK eyes. Questions of ethics often bring TOK and CAS together, but the topic you treat here also raises some central ones about truth.

    I’m also quite taken with the question you pose, “Truth or inspiration — which is more important?” The sciences and the arts might take rather different angles on this one!

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