Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Malala Yousafzai

As I have said before, bloggers are a fraternity.

From time to time, we must support one another through flaming and often inane slings, arrows, and logomachy sent to us via comments on a post.  Mostly it's cranky people upset that someone could dare have an opinion opposed to theirs.  Other times its vindictive jerks that just want to be...well, jerks.  Yet I have never once experienced someone getting killed over what they blogged.

That is what was attempted upon Malala Yousafzai.  Malala is a 15 year-old woman from Pakistan.  She blogged on the BBC's Urdu site, oftentimes posting about her aspirations to become a doctor.  The major obstacle to that goal, however, was the Taliban and their strict opposition to women entering higher education.  Undaunted, Malala continued to write that she would not allow the Taliban to intimidate her from having a fulfilling life of her choice.

The Taliban responded by boarding her school bus one day and shooting Malala along with two other girls.  The other two children did not survive, Malala did.  In a statement, the Taliban said that this action was taken to teach a "lesson" to anyone who else who valued education and equal rights for women.

The "lesson," however, did not sink in.  Malala is now an international symbol of human rights.  TIME magazine recently named her as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World." As she is safely in London now, her goal is to continue to write about the approximate 61 million children in the world who are not able to attend school.     

As typically happens when I encounter a person of Malala's caliber, I am embarrassed by the strength I seem to lack.  At her age, I was the skinny kid in high school who got bullied.  I stayed away from many opportunities and took the long way home to avoid any "troubles." Malala had grown men with guns threatening her and she didn't back down.  Many of us in America, myself included, whined and complained our way through school, unhappy with the seemingly boring and tedious work we had to do.  This young woman was willing to risk her own life just to have the opportunity to do it.

Education is a fundamental human right regardless of gender.  Not only that but education is the single best solution out there to problems such as poverty, crime, disease, and such.  By allowing young people like Malala to go to school, everyone benefits. After all, everyone should have the right to an education...and most importantly, to a fulfilling life of their choosing.

On the micro scale, Malala Yousafzai should be an inspiration to all bloggers.  Speak your mind.  Put it out there, whatever "it" is.  Sure, you might get Internet flack for it, but if Malala can have the courage to do what she does, we can too.

As an aside, if you go to the link above for the TIME "100 People" list, you'll also find an entry on Aung San Suu Kyi.  Talk about courage...

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