Let me tell you about one of my favorite
personalities, whose life teaches pre-eminently how to
I met one of the world's great positive thinkers in
the wilderness of Judea, where, in the long ago, John
the Baptist preached. His name is Musa Alami and
he has made the desert to blossom as the rose--a
desert that in all the history of the world had never
blossomed before. He succeeded because he
believed that he could, and he kept at it until he
did, which, of course, is the way you succeed at
Musa, an Arab man, was educated at Cambridge, went
back to Palestine where he became a well-to-do
man--well-to-do, that is, by Middle Eastern
standards. Then, in political turmoil, he lost
everything, including his home.
He went beyond Jordan to the edge of Jericho.
Stretching away on either side was the great, bleak,
arid desert of the Jordan valley. In the
distance to the left, shimmering in the hot haze,
loomed the mountains of Judea, and to the right the
mountains of Moab.
With the exception of a few oases, nothing had ever
been cultivated in this hot and weary land, and
everyone said that nothing could be, for how could you
bring the water to it?
To dam the Jordan River
for irrigation was too expensive and, besides, there
was no money to finance such a project.
"What about underground water?" asked Musa
Alami. Long and loud they laughed. Whoever
heard of such a thing? There was no water under
that hot, dry desert. Ages ago it had been
covered by Dead Sea water; now the sand was full of
salt, which added further to the aridity.
He had heard of the amazing rehabilitation of the
California desert through subsurface water. He
decided that he could find water here also. All
the old-time Bedouin sheiks said it couldn't be done;
government officials agreed, and so, solemnly, did the
famous scientists from abroad. There was
absolutely no water there. That was that.
But Musa was unimpressed. He thought there
was. A few poverty-stricken refugees from the
nearby Jericho Refugee Camp helped him as he started
to dig. With well-drilling equipment? Not
on your life. With pick and shovel.
Everybody laughed as this dauntless man and his ragged
friends dug away day after day, week after week, month
after month. Down they went, slowly, deep into
the sand into which no man since creation had plumbed
For six months they dug; then one day the sand became
wet and finally water, life-giving water, gushed
forth. The Arabs who had gathered round did not
laugh or cheer; they wept. Water had been found
in the ancient desert!
A very old man, sheik of a nearby village, heard the
amazing news. He came to see for himself.
"Musa," he asked, "have you really
found water? Let me see it and feel it and taste
The old man put his hand in the stream, splashed it
over his face, put it on his tongue. "It is
sweet and cool," he said. "It is good
water." Then, placing his aged hands on the
shoulder of Musa Alami, he said, "Thank
God. Now, Musa, you can die." It was
the simple tribute of a desert man to a positive
thinker who did what everyone said could not be
Now, several years later, Musa Alami has fifteen wells
supplying a ranch nearly three miles long and two
miles wide. He raises vegetables, bananas, figs,
citrus fruit, and boys. In his school he is
growing citizens of the future, farmers and
technicians, experts in the trades. Imitating
Musa, others have also dug until forty thousand acres
are under cultivation and the green is spreading over
I asked this amazing man what kept him going, kept him
believing when everyone said it couldn't be
done. "There was no alternative. It
had to be done," he said, then added, "God
As the twilight turned the mountains of Moab and the
Judean hills to red and gold, I sat watching a huge
stream of water gush from the heart of the
desert. And as it splashed into a deep, wide
pool, it seemed to say, "It can be done, it can
be done!" So, don't let your difficulties
get you down and do not believe those croakers who say
you cannot do it. Remember Musa Alami, positive
thinker of the wilderness of Judea.