Malala Yousafzai is a name that will not be forgotten. The name belongs to a brave young girl who was targetted by the Pakistani Taliban to be shot because she wanted to be educated, and wanted her friends to have an education too. She almost paid the ultimate price, but she survived the bullet to her head, and what is more important, she lives to tell the story, and unbowed, continues to fight for education for all, right across the world.
The terrorists miscalculated. Their plan to silence a young girl who only wanted to hold a pen and notebook, and learn, has backfired and has gone global. This made me look carefully at our vision of education in the UK. For the most part, although thankfully not all, young people here don’t think school is cool, and they will readily complain about almost anything to do with their teachers and lessons. But then they didn’t pay such a high price for their education, did they?
In the years that are coming, who do you think will benefit from their education? Those who moan about it, or those, like Malala, who survive a murderous attack, bounce back, and appreciate the gift that education is? I have already placed my vote.
Like others, I was inspired by this 16 year old birthday girl, who held the UN audience captive by her words, but mostly by her spirit. She didn’t give up. But for me, the most telling part was that she didn’t want revenge on her would be assassins. She wanted peace, forgiveness, and education for others just like her. She got her forgiving attitude from her faith and her parents. We ignore the power of these at our peril. Parents, make sure your example and words deliver the proper messages to your child(ren).
This was not a Christian message, but very much based on her Islamic faith. I would not and could not defend Islam, but I do recognise courage when I see it, and I applaud that in Malala. Oh, and when you watch her speech, you cannot miss the thanks and praise she gives to her ‘god’, in spite of the fact that her shooter was also of that same faith. She took the chance to make, not only a political, but a religious statement at the same time. Two lessons jumped at me. Firstly, the general attitude of our own youth to education in the UK, and secondly, how quickly she forgave in the name of her ‘god’. I would pray for these attributes to be translated into our secular society, and Christian faith communities in our own nation. Is that too much to expect?