A TESTIMONY OF AMAZING COURAGE
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, Oct 20, 2012
Kanwal Prakash “KP” Singh
Fourteen-year old Malala Yousafzai, demonstrating amazing courage and wisdom beyond her years, daring determination of a pioneer and the passion of a trailblazer, rebelled against the injustice of denying the right to education for the girls in the Taliban infested Swat Valley of Pakistan. Malala’s celebrated advocacy for more schools and education for girls was seen as a threat by the Taliban. Her mission to see young girls receive education and women in her community to break the cycle of violence and ignorance received a lot of attention in Pakistan and around the world. She saw firsthand women’s doomed life of servitude to men who saw no value in women becoming productive members of their society stuck in the antiquated ideas of another century. Malala’s cause and mission: to see young girls receive education and as women to break this cycle of violence placed her at odds with those who saw only threat in her crusade. A misguided Taliban attempted to kill her as she and her classmate were returning home from school three weeks ago. The gunman called her name, and once identified, Malala was shot in the head at a point blank range in the school bus where she was seated.
A SENSE OF OUTRAGE AND UNIVERSAL CONDEMNATION
The terror and ignorance had not just claimed one more victim but countless others who felt terrified, intimidated, and unsafe in the aftermath. There was anger at the horror, deep sadness over the tragedy of such ignorance and malice, and unspeakable anguish over the attempt to silence a voice that represented so much promise for the youth, and especially young girls.
The assault on Malala’s life, widely publicized and updated by the world media, was seen by her admirers as an attack on the honor, dignity, and future of one-half of the world’s population. Amidst the grief and shockwaves, millions across the globe and all over Pakistan took to the streets in protest of such a barbaric act and the continuing threats to the equality, opportunity, and cause of women in many areas where there are devastating hardships for women. People of all faiths, cultures, and nationalities have been praying for the life and recovery of Malala Yousafzai who has since been airlifted to a hospital in Birmingham, England, where she is under the care of some of the world’s greatest surgeons.
With one voice, the world has condemned the cowardly assault on Malala, an innocent young girl who is a celebrated advocate of freedom for girls to the right to education to shape a future of purpose, opportunity, and promise. The attack on Malala brought into sharp focus a stark and sad reality that there are many regions in the world at this time of incredible advancements and global change where the status of women is still dictated by violent, fanatical, and ignorant zealots who do not wish to see girls and women succeed outside the deplorable courtyards of male dominance, cruelty, mistreatment, and unconscionable inhumanity.
BRAVE TESTIMONIES OF COURAGE AND DEFIANCE
Not since Anne Frank, the young Jewish Holocaust victim, have we seen someone so young capture the heart and imagination of millions and witness what one young person can do to uplift humanity and inspire others to action against such an outrage. Imagine millions of young people, male and female, who today are being denied access to the blessings of liberty, happiness, and fullness of life, what they can offer our world. Malala, much like Anne Frank, is the light in the darkness of the moment; she is an embodiment of courage in a place that remains a refuge for many who indulge in hateful violence against women. Malala is a symbol of hope and reassurance, of righteous courage and foresight, that God has placed in one of the darkest places on this earth. God has inspired this young messenger to reject the preordained entrenched culture and fate for girls and women, break free of unconscionable outrage; transform their lives through education and learn about the incredible awaiting opportunities to a better future.
EQUAL, WORTHY, AND ANCHOR OF LIFE
The Sikh scriptures remind us: do not think ill of a woman, nor treat her with disrespect or consider her unworthy, for only a woman gives birth to lords and princes who enlighten and emancipate us; a woman provides unbound comfort and love, and is the creator of life by God’s Command. The last name of each female member in the Sikh faith is Kaur: a lioness and a princess. A woman is not just equal to man, but is a special and venerable partner in God’s plan to nurture and enrich life. In advanced societies, women today are serving and excelling, and making great contributions in every field of endeavor and in myriad ways.
Malala has made history, not because of her birth or station in life, but by what she has courageously stood for in spite of frequent threats and the possibility of violence from those who continue to promote the culture that permits physical abuse and tormenting of women. Malala’s life is in danger from her grave wounds. Her advocacy for more schools and for girls to pursue education that opens new doors and unimagined opportunities has already inspired thousands of people around the world who identify with her just and enlightened cause. Many see illiteracy, especially among women, as a threat to a bright and robust future for nations and generations.
Where ignorance is deemed a bliss, how could that society ever hope to progress?
UNLIMITED PROMISE FOR ADVANCEMENT AND EMANCIPATION
Malala Yousafzai symbolizes hope and promise for humanity. She represents a much-needed renaissance of thought about the place of women in societies, free and friendly crosswinds of cultures and illumined ideas flowing across frontiers and civilizations, a hopeful future where everyone has a place under the sun and freedom to shape their own dreams and contribute to our collective prosperity and opportunities. Malala has awakened our conscience, offered us a living testimonial how one young person can move a mountain, inspire millions. Now, it is our turn to follow her lead. We must support efforts that open doors for young girls; preserve and assure equal rights for women; encourage and celebrate their achievements; and help create an environment that encourages the unleashing of limitless creativity by a segment of population that has been denied a fair shake in warring tribal societies, and in some cases even in pockets of advanced countries that have been left behind by modern revolutions. In doing so, we honor those who struggle against incredible odds in hostile environments. We can be certain that the power and testimony of Malala’s free and fearless spirit in time will give rise to a new day in places where there have been an intense darkness and suffering, a medieval mindset, and unspeakable violations of the sacred human rights of female gender far too long.