On Friday, October 11th, my partner Jo and I were viewing one of our favorite TV programs: “Shark Tank“. We like to analyze the business offers and predict if the entrepreneur(s) will get a shark to bite (as well as which shark). As this very Western, highly Capitalistic program came to an end, there was an advert for the following program: Diane Sawyer would interview Malala, the Pakastani girl who has come to the forefront concerning education rights for girls, at home and worldwide. Jo and I decided to watch for a few minutes, and then were drawn into a whole different tank of sharks for an hour as we followed Malala’s very different life and trials — even being shot at 15 by the Taliban — for just wanting to continue her education.
The same week, the results of Malala’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize would be known. In addition, her autobiography had just been published. Sadly, she did not win the prize (although she has been awarded many other prizes and honors). In her graceful manner, she stated that the prize did not matter to her. All that matters is her campaign for girls’ education rights. Meanwhile, the rest of the free world has received the prize of Malala’s story and the gift of her book — I Am Malala: the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot By the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb (2013).
Her speech earlier in the year at United Nations has now become almost as well known as other greats such as “I Have A Dream” and “The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword”. Simply and elegantly Malala stated her cause:
“Let us pick up our books and our pens…They are our most powerful weapons. One child , one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”
She received a standing ovation. But elsewhere in the world, she is receiving more backlash, especially in mideast countries. So, we all need to join Malala’s cause for human rights before any backlash takes power.
Malala is not speaking against Islamic values, though. She is actually reaffirming them to a culture that has lost sight:
Today we all know education is our basic right, Not just in the West; Islam says every girl and every boy should go to school. In the Quran it is written. God wants us to have knowledge…around the world there are fifty-seven million children who are not in primary school. thirty-two million of them girls. Sadly, my own country, Pakistan, is one of the worst places: 5.1 million children don’t even go to primary school even though in our constitution it says every child has that right. We have almost fifty million illiterate adults, two thirds who are women, like my own mother.
Similarly to what I stated earlier in a posting about another young mideastern girl ‘s — Nujood’s — account:
- Read/buy this book. Read/buy Nujood’s book.
- Share this book. Share Nujood’s book.
- Discuss this book. Discuss Nujood’s book.
- Visit the Malala fund at www.malalafund.org and try to donate
- View her now famous BBC blog project she did under the Gul Makai monicker at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7834402.stm
- Visit Malala’s current blog, under her own name at www.malala-yousafzai.com
- View the New York Times documentary “Class Dismissed in Swat Valley” at www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvoI1Mnsm8g
- View Malala’s interview with Diane Sawyer at www.youtube.com/watch?v=OURF6MfxMyQ
DO NOT let these topics fall through the cracks within world politics and human rights.
I am fortunate that I live in a society where I can read, view, and listen to anything I want (yes, even Shark Tank, for without Shark Tank, I might have missed out on Malala’s story for quite a while.) This is not to say that our way of life is any better in comparison to Malala’s; we certainly have our own embarrassments and violations of our fellow human beings in the USA, in Illinois, in Chicago, on the northwest side, on my own street, in my own apartment building. But I do have better rights, and that is a start. As Malala states at the end of her autobiography, this is her dream:
To sit on a chair and read my books with all my friends is my right. To see each and every human being with a smile of happiness is my wish…I am Malala. My world has changed but I have not.
In the end, as always, eventually the pen wins out — the pen is mightier than the sword, but only when we are able to read what the pen hath wrought, and only when what the pen hath written is uncensored and available for all to read and, finally, when what the pen hath written is acted upon. Step 1: READ THIS BOOK!
For the moment, I have done some help here, I hope, by reading this book and by sharing this with you and others. I know this is not enough. First, I’ll recharge my batteries by reading some more; I might even watch Shark Tank again this week. Then, it’s off to ‘fight the good fight’ again as I pick up my pen or tap on a keyboard.
By the way, a few days later I went to my local Barnes & Nobel and was pleasantly surprised by the power of the media: Malala’s book had already sold out! Twice! And the copies of the latest shipment were on hold! Instead of frustration, I was proud that so many would follow Malala’s words and wishes after the Sawyer interview and after the hype of a Nobel Prize nomination.
So what did I do? I downloaded the book onto my e-book reader and was able to immediately gratify myself and begin Step 1: Reading the Book…What a world I live in! How blessed are my days…
Also become aware of another account of girls’ struggles in the mideast: please see I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced, discussed in this blog earlier.