Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe: We are NOT “all Malala”

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Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe

We are NOT “all Malala”

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lately I’ve fallen into the blogger doldrums, posting with decreasing frequency. But today, after posting yesterday, I must put up a new post. I just read a Daily Beast story headlined, “Angelina Jolie: We Are All Malala,” and I am afraid I must differ. Not that Ms. Jolie’s heart and sympathies aren’t in the right place, urging concern for Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl gunned down by the Taliban for the crime of wanting an education. Not that we all should not be outraged. And not that the “Here’s how you can help” link isn’t well-intentioned, though inevitable.  

But I must confess, at least this one person is not Malala, and I wonder how many of you are either. I am an adult, not a 14-year-old, but I know I would not have had the courage Malala showed. I am sure I would have been tempted to stay inside, shut the door, maybe find a way to study in a less public way. I might not have fearlessly stepped onto that schoolbus or spoken out to urge other girls to do the same. I don’t know if I would have had the courage her parents showed, either, knowing their daughter was certainly in danger and yet knowing that without the freedom to pursue the education she wanted, the kind of life she was destined for was neither what she wanted nor, apparently, what they hoped for for her.

What gives a young girl the strength to defy her society? Where did this thirst for education come from? She began writing a blog for the BBC at the age of 11, detailing her life under the Taliban. She wrote of hiding her books under her scarf, of hiding her school uniform. She titled one of her blog posts, “I am afraid,” But she wasn’t, or at least if she was, she wasn’t afraid enough to stop going to school, to stop learning and to dream that what she learned could ultimately help make her country a better place.

I hope she is able to recover from her injuries, though being shot in the head and neck sounds dire and “stable condition” is far from home free. No matter what her age, she is remarkable, inspiring. She is the epitome of courage. Much as I wish I could be, I am sad to say, I am no Malala. 

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