It is said time and time again that one person can make a difference. No matter your age, gender, circumstances, you can impact the lives of others, by having and living your dreams, facing adversity, and claiming your victory.
The 2014 youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize co-winner Malala Yousafzai, a 17-year-old girl from Pakistan, resumes the above mentioned statement. She has been making a difference in global leadership education for girls, dealing with huge struggle after a murder attempt, and today she’s portraying victory while making a huge difference in the face of global terrorism.
I read her autobiography “I am Malala: the girl who stood for education and was shot by the Taliban” in one trait this summer. This was my 16 year-old son’s school summer reading. He ordered it online and I was glued on my computer to click the 350 plus pages one after another. I was intrigued by her story. I felt joyful to read on my cell phone that she was the recipient of this prestigious prize.
Malala was targeted by the Pakistani Taliban at an early age. On October 11, 2012, she was riding home on a school bus when a masked gunman apparently boarded her bus, asked for her by name and shot her in the head and neck.
She almost paid the ultimate price. She has spoken out for the rights of all girls to become educated in a society where women were not allowed to work or attend school, forbidden to laugh out loud, to wear nail polish or shoes that made too much noise.
At age 11, to protest what was happening in her homeland, Malala began to write about her experiences. She described wearing plain clothes, not uniforms, so that no one would know she was attending school.
The Taliban forced the closure of her school. She stayed home and suspended her education. She said in her autobiography she was “sad” watching her uniform, and school bag at home, she was“hurt” because her brothers could go to school while she could not.
Malala had dreamed of becoming a doctor, but recently she became interested in politics and speaking out for the rights of children. She has been a nominee for several International Prizes, including the Nobel Peace Prize which she shared with India’s Kailash Satyarthi for his struggles against the suppression of children and for young people’s rights, including the right to education.
She is an icon of courage, a source of inspiration which defies the totalitarian mind-set others would have imposed on her.
What lessons can we learn from Malala? What attributes of success can we copy from her dreams, struggles, and victory? Why education is so important today? And above all: leadership education to free our minds and souls to think for ourselves, and to look for our own solutions for our problems.
In “Launching a leadership Revolution”, a New York Times bestselling book, co-authors Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady mentioned learning hunger as the basic foundation for leadership development.
In our family, community, churches, how can we keep that learning hunger to bring constant, life-long continuing education on liberal issues, and community affairs to our members.
We may not have the Taliban in our backyard to defend our girls to go to school, but we are by an entertaining media environment which pushes aside education in favor of short term happiness. It’s a pity to observe that mostly all of our churches have a music ministry, organize events, but few have a book club, and a community leaning group.
This is the challenge of the day. How to bring leadership education to the masses? A leadership education for each and every one of us is the answer.
And for this, we may welcome Malala as Bookman started the Haitian revolution with reading for the slaves in Haiti, as Frederic Douglas stated abolitionist society in the Northern part of the United States against the Southern slavery institutions.
I would end this with a quote from Thomas Jefferson in a letter from his estate in Monticello wrote: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.”
Your education is your responsibility. For your own self, and for others, you are your own Malala.