Rory Stewart -- a perpetual pedestrian, a diplomat, an adventurer and an author -- is the member of British Parliament for Penrith and the Border.
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."
“The last 20 years has been the age of intervention, and Afghanistan is simply one act in a five-act tragedy.”
“This idea that failure is not an option: It makes failure invisible, inconceivable and inevitable.”— on the war in Afghanistan
“Democracy is not simply a question of structures. It is a state of mind. It is an activity.”
“Despite the dubious statistics … democracy is a thing of value for which we should be fighting.”
“I have never met a villager who does not want a vote.”
“The point about democracy is not that it delivers legitimate, effective, prosperous rule of law. It's not that it guarantees peace with itself or with its neighbors. … Democracy matters because it reflects an idea of equality.”
“If democracy is to be rebuilt … it is necessary not just for the public to learn to trust their politicians, but for the politicians to learn to trust the public.”