Malala Yousafzai is a child, a baby, really, in the whole scheme of things. She is sixteen years old. On October 9, 2012, Miss Yousafzai was shot in the head, point blank, by a grown man, a coward. He was a member of that benevolent group known as the Taliban. (I promised myself I would not editorialize, but it is very, very hard.)
You must know the story by now. Miss Yousafzai advocated education for girls, and, indeed, had been writing a blog for the BBC World Service since the age of eleven. She defied the ban on education for girls, in Pakistan, and got shot for it. On a school bus. On her way to school. She was fifteen. She was unarmed. And completely defenceless.
I cannot imagine how Miss Yousafzai must have felt that day, watching the armed men approach, stopping the school bus, boarding the school bus. Did she know they were looking for her? Maybe she did. Maybe not. The cowards, ummm, I mean the armed men, demanded that the children point out Malala Yousafzai. They did. On one level, who can blame them? (That’s a discussion for another day. We won’t go there today.)
What does it feel like to get a bullet to the head? What goes through your mind? Fear? Anger? Rage? Revenge? I hope to Goddess I never find out. But, she did. Malala Yousafzai, a fifteen-year old school girl, did indeed, find out.
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines courage as: “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” I think that about covers it. Malala Yousafzai has more courage and personal fortitude in her little finger than I do in my whole body. My admiration for this child, who really is only a child chronologically, is endless. Her life experiences, quite severe and compacted into a mere sixteen years, has surely carried her into adulthood.
Did being a target of the Taliban stop Miss Yousafzai from her life’s work? Nope. She continues to speak out against repressive laws in her home country of Pakistan and elsewhere in the world. She recently spoke to the United Nations Youth Assembly in New York City. Here’s what grabbed me: “…nothing changed in my life, except this: Weakness, fear, and hopelessness died.” Imagine.
Miss Yousafzai, with her family, is now living in England. Her father has a position with the Pakistani government and has been posted to Birmingham for a three-year contract. My wishes for her are continued strength, support and success. And happiness. I do hope she is happy.
If you want to hear Miss Yousafzai’s speech to the United Nations Youth Assembly of 2013, (and you should) go here: