In the morning I checked everything a second time: yes, I had my razors and shaving cream, an extra shirt just in case of spilling tea, and of course lots of socks, for visiting a book fair means a lot of walking. I had prepared my power point presentations the night before, staying up until the early hours. Indeed, I was ready to take off… But I couldn’t, like thousands of other passengers because of the volcanic eruptions over the Atlantic… The last time Eyjafjallajokull had erupted was in 1821, and it lasted for thirteen months. The eruption in April has caused one of the greatest flight disruptions in aviation history. Almost all of European airspace was closed, thousands of flights were cancelled, and passengers were stranded at the terminals. The human family has covered long distances in science and technology, but one “cough” from the earth was enough to remind us how fragile we still are. Another lesson to learn from this event is that volcanic eruptions are not only what they appear to be-disasters that threaten human life; indeed, along with their reminders that we are not immortal, they also have a role to play in the overall ecosystem, especially with their effects on climate change and an increase in the resistance of fault lines.

Just as in the case of this volcanic eruption, Harold Olcese, one of the finalists in The Fountain essay contest 2009, opens a window in this issue enabling us to see the brighter side of events. His essay is an empowering one and will inspire many to survive even the seemingly most tragic of all misfortunes.

However, chaos is more catastrophic not when a volcano erupts, but when individuals and societies “breathe resentment, swallow hatred, curse all that is deemed to be an enemy with a fixed and determined passion, as if programmed for fury.” The lead article portrays the chaotic drama of persistent denial vis A vis the mystical world of faith.

We learn in this issue that mountains-despite occasional explosions of lava from volcanic ones-are indeed the “water towers of the world.” Quoting from the article, 70% of the human population depends on the water originating from the mountains.

The Matter & Beyond interview with Dr. Katherine Marshall from Berkeley Center for Religion establishes the fact that millions of people still live in misery and at extremely low standards of living. According to Marshall, this imbalance can be solved “with a revival of some of the best traditions of spirituality.”

Another mountain involved in this issue of The Fountain is the famous K2, the world’s second highest peak. Bulut reviews Three Cups of Tea, a book which sold millions of copies, written by Greg Mortenson who tried to climb this peak. However, he ended up in a village where he was inspired to write this book telling of his fantastic adventure to build schools.

Please check out the essay contest 2010 announcement at the back of this issue. “What would you do if you were told you had only 72 hours to live?” is the theme of this year’s contest organized in cooperation with Ebru TV. For details go to www.last72.com.

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