As this piece points out, it's been 10 months since the news of Greg Mortenson's alleged fraud broke. I've written about this, here and here. It's a hard thing.
At the end of the day, it matters, and why and how matter. I don't think Greg Mortenson intentionally set out to get rich off of schools in Pakistan. If so, that's an entirely different matter, and downright criminal.
But. What he did was irresponsible, dangerous, and thus, completely inexcusable. He built an organization around his story- not the stories of people who's lives he was trying to change. I'm sure Mortenson thought no one knew the community he was working with (or his mission or his contacts, or whatever) as well as he did. All of us think that way, and Mortenson had more reason than most. But still....this is pride, pride at its worst. I can't think of a more dramatic example of how our sin can affect others. And it lives in us all.
Madeleine L'Engle wrote about this in A Circle of Quiet...she writes about a quotation from G.A. Young a student brought to one of her workshops: "The compulsion for me to get my cotton-pickin' fingers on my fellow man is the natural result of my belief that I have the word. If I do have the word and feel surrounded by unmolded clay, I have no choice but to mold. When I do this, I begin playing God, and as a result usually raise the devil." L'engle responded with a quotation from George MacDonald: "Am I going to do a good deed? Then of all times,-Father, into thy hands: lest the enemy should have me now."
L'engle, with her characteristic clarity, identifies the difference between the two statements: "George MacDonald implies that as long as we put ourselves into God's hands, then maybe something good can happen, not because of us, but because he helps." Being a lifelong Anglican, she continues"I've just remembered another quotation: this one's from the Psalms. Whenever I'm going to teach a class or give a speech, I always think of it, and hold onto it: Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy Name give the praise; for thy loving mercy, and for thy truth's sake."
This is where hope lies. We each, like Mortenson, have the ability to destroy the good we set out to do...we can devastate our own compassion. But there is grace, there is Christ, and therefore, we don't have to. Greg Mortenson is neither monster nor hero, but a man made in the image of God, a man who needs forgiveness.