Rory Stewart opens this talk from TEDxHousesofParliament with a joke: “Little Billy goes to school and his teacher asks, ‘What does your father do?’ Billy replies, ‘My father plays piano in an opium den.’” But when the teacher confronts the father about his occupation, she gets a different answer. As Stewart finishes the joke, “The father […]Continue reading
Why you should listen
Now the member of British Parliament for Penrith and the Border, in rural northwest England, Rory Stewart has led a fascinatingly broad life of public service. He joined the Foreign Office after school, then left to begin a years-long series of walks across the Muslim world. In 2002, his extraordinary walk across post-9/11 Afghanistan resulted in his first book, The Places in Between. After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, he served as a Deputy Governorate Co-Ordinator in Southern Iraq for the coalition forces, and later founded a charity in Kabul.
To secure his Conservative seat in Parliament, he went on a walking tour of Penrith, covering the entire county as he talked to voters. In 2008, Esquire called him one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century.
He says: "The world isn't one way or another. Things can be changed very, very rapidly by someone with sufficient confidence, sufficient knowledge and sufficient authority."
What others say
"Stewart has long known that diplomacy of the deed is the only kind that matters." — Parag Khana