Malala is, as we say, blowing up. As she should be.
A few quick thoughts on her interview with Jon Stewart. Happy International Day of the Girl!
1. Malala mentions her father a few times. In my work with girls in Kibera, so many of the girls who are doing well have strong fathers who advocate for them. Girls can’t do this work on their own. Our boys will be fathers some day. We can’t forget about the boys. We are all wrapped up in this work.
2. Malala speaks poignantly about nonviolence, the work of taking violence and hatred into our very bodies, transforming it, and exuding it back into the world as truth, peace and light. Jesus did it. John Lewis did it. The work of nonviolence takes training and fierce commitment. It comes with a price. But it works.
3. Jon Stewart is overly sentimental with her. He uses the world “humbled” a bit too much for my liking. Is it her age? Her gender? Her nationality? She is incredible and awe inspiring, don’t get me wrong, but he doesn’t cover his mouth or tread so carefully with other guests. He is cute with her. I think it would be less demeaning to take her off her pedestal and treat her like an equal and the force that she is.
4. We need to be reminded that education really does come down to things like water and electricity. It is hard for us in the US to imagine sometimes, but we need to believe it, stop throwing around words like justice and peace and work with real, tangible things like latrines and rice and sanitary pads.
5. I would love to see the beautiful hometown that she speaks of. I have no schema in my brain for where she comes from, as Jon admits at the end as well. This is part of the problem. Quoting a former student at a massacre site in El Salvador, “Why do such ugly things happen in such beautiful places?”
6. Guns and God never go well together.
7. It shouldn’t be too much to ask to go to school and learn without worrying about being shot. More kids than we dare to admit are living this reality all over the world, the United States included. As Malala says, school teaches you about justice and how to talk and how to live and equality. Kids need to sit next to other kids who look different and think differently and worship differently as they are learning how to be people. History and chemistry are good, too.
8. In deciding to have children, deciding how much schooling I want, deciding how much I want to stay home and how much I want to be out in the world, I am so aware that these are decisions I have. She explains the four walls of her home as a prison. Mine is a palace. Not because it is bigger, but because I am choosing it.
9. Greg Mortenson’s Central Asia Institute has a horrible efficiency ratio. He didn’t handle the money well. True. And his books were not fact checked. True. And building school buildings does not mean that girls are going to school. True. But Malala shows us that Greg Mortenson was onto something. We can tear him down, yes, but let’s also join him in caring about education all over the world as a way to stop wars and empower girls, which will save us all.
10. The Taliban shot the wrong girl. Keep speaking truth to power Malala!