Words for a Wednesday: I Am Malala

I just re-read I Am Malala, the autobiography of a teenage education activist who was shot by the Taliban, and was struck again by how inspiring and poignant it is. I've spoken before about why everyone deserves an education, but the quote I noticed this time was more about her nature and immense personal strength. Just. . . just read this. She's talking about the days before her shooting, when threats were multiplying and she would often wonder what she would do if someone came to kill her.
"Maybe I'd take off my shoes and hit him, but then I'd think if I did that there would be no difference between me and a terrorist. It would be better to plead, 'Okay, shoot me, but first listen to me. What you are doing is wrong. I'm not against you personally, I just want every child to go to school.'"
Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala

So many things about this make me realise how amazing she is, and every time I read it, I find hidden within the words a new strength. Firstly, she has no thought in her mind about self-defence, while so many others with much more life experience have used it to justify killing others. Her morals are so strong that they easily conquer the fear which could make her want to attack.

Second, in a not unrelated way, she doesn't truly worry about death. She dismisses the possibility of it in three short words - 'Okay, shoot me' - and spends the rest of the paragraph talking about forgiveness, how she isn't against the shooter as a person, just how he is acting. She is willing, and fully intending, to spend her last breath fighting for other peoples' futures.
I wonder how many of us would be able to do that. I wonder how many of us could wish for others' lives instead of our own.

And, on top of all this, Malala got her GCSE results last week. Although half of her school life, maybe even more, has been overshadowed, and sometimes even broken up by wars, those who misinterpreted her religion, and threats to her personal safety, she got six A*s and four As.
To those of us who think our lives and our exams are impossible, Malala should give us the confidence to stand a little taller. I leave you with the speech she made at the UN on her sixteenth birthday:



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