LESSONS FROM MALALA: PART 1
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On July 12, 2013, her 16th birthday, “the bravest girl in the world” Malala Yousafzai stood at the United Nations and delivered the speech of a lifetime to more than 500 young people aged 12-25 from around the world, with grace and compassion. It was extolled around the world as leaders, activists and celebrities acclaimed her for advocating for education for every child and every human being even for the children of those who almost took her life by putting a bullet in her head.
Malala Yousafzai, is a 16-year-old Pakistani education and women’s rights advocate who was shot by Taliban terrorists last October in an attempt to silence her and end her campaign for girls’ education in Pakistan
July 12 was declared Malala Day by the United Nations. Malala was invited to give her first public speech since she was shot in the head on her way back from school in Pakistan's Swat Valley last October. But she insisted “Malala Day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights. There are hundreds of human rights activists and social workers who are not only speaking for human rights, but who are struggling to achieve their goals of education, peace and equality. Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions have been injured. I am just one of them.”
As a kid, my parents made me understand that every story always have at least one lesson and the story will have no impact in my life if I don’t grasp the lesson in it. In this light, there are quite a number of lessons to be learned from Malala’s impressive speech at the UN, lessons that we need to practise daily, as individuals and as a community in order to help make this world a better place. Her story will have no impact in our lives if we cannot sit down and reflect upon its lessons and use it to bring the change we need in this world. Here are some of the lessons I learnt from Malala’s speech; lessons that have improved my way of thinking; lessons that have increased my desire to contribute in making this world a better place; lessons I believe have inspired others and will continue inspiring lots of people around the world.
1) Always be thankful and grateful to God and those who contribute to the wellbeing of your life. The best way to do this is to honestly express your gratitude with words and actions. No matter how small it may seem, always be appreciative of the good someone does to you.
2) Do not hesitate to raise your voice to address serious issues in your society like Malala did. It is a good thing but most especially, do it wisely, not for selfish gains or just to please some people. Raise your voice because you really care about making a change and so that those without a voice can be heard.
3) Keep your dreams alive, your rational and sensible dreams of course. Be quick to replace weakness, fear and hopelessness with strength, power and courage. These will take you far in life.
4) Strive to cleanse your body, soul, spirit and mind of all forms of revenge and hatred. These are never the solution to any problem rather they give birth to more problems. Most wars fought around the world are born from revenge and hatred. Like Gandhi said “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”. Simply be peaceful and love everyone. Love is the greatest of all.
5) Just as Malala learnt about compassion, the legacy of change and the philosophy of non-violence from great people like Muhammad-the prophet of mercy, Jesus Christ, Lord Buddha, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Muhammd Ali, Gandhi, Bacha Khan, Mother Teresa, we all should reflect upon the wisdom passed down by such people and practise them daily. For example
“Every good deed is charity whether you come to your brother's assistance or just greet him with a smile.” Muhammad
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else.” Buddha
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Jesus Christ
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Nelson Mandela
"At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Anger is the enemy of non-violence and pride is a monster that swallows it up.” Mahatma Gandhi
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” Muhammad Ali
“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one come to you without leaving happier.” Mother Teresa
Feeding on such wisdom everyday can only make you a better person and make this world a better place.
6) The pen is mightier than the sword. This proverb which was written down for the first time by Edward George Bulwer Lytton (1803-1873), an English novelist, in 1839 simply means that words are more powerful and effective than weapons in accomplishing any purpose in life. Never underestimate the power of your words; they can be very constructive and destructive at the same time. Never get tired of preaching about what is right.
Let me pause here for now while we take time to reflect and share these lessons with others. I’ll continue with more lessons in my next post. I urge you to listen to the full speech by Malala or read the transcript at the Web site of the nonprofit group A World at School, and share it with others, particularly children, to help convey just how big one heart can grow and how much impact one person can have.