the right to an education

“I have the right of education,” Malala said in a 2011 interview

I was tempted to call this ‘someone has to be the first’ <and will explain later>.

Probably because I can’t watch news 24/7 I missed the original interview but since its being replayed I can finally give it its due.

Here is the true shame.

I didn’t become aware of it until something <really> bad happened. This is about the 14 year old Pakistani girl, Malala Yousufzai, who was shot when a Taliban gunman walked up to a school bus, yes, a bus full of children going home from school, and shot her in the head and neck. Another girl and a teacher were also injured in this attack.

Why was she shot?

Because Malala Yousufzai threatened the Taliban existence.

How could a 14 year old girl threaten the Taliban?

By advocating overcoming ignorance through education to empower more enlightened individual choices (now everyone knows why I am writing about this).

Yes. This implies the existence of the Taliban depends on ignorance.


Before I get to the point of what I want to say you should see the interview if you have not.

Malala Yousufzai is a young girl. A daughter I believe we all would be quite proud to call our own <wherever you live>. She is wise beyond her years as she tells us about hope and dreams. In a way, and in words, any of us can grasp.

Malala has made a stand in Pakistan <and that area of the world> for education, progress and the advancement of all children of all ages. Her interview is worth watching even if you don’t care about what I want to say.

CNN interview:


Women’s human rights advocates will come out of the woodwork saying she is a martyr for women’s/girl’s rights (by the way … just to be clear … I am a supporter of women’s rights).  But I wish they would take a step back and prioritize. This young lady is first and foremost a martyr in the fight against ignorance.

She is not anti taliban (per se) she is pro informed choice.

That said … it is sad we need a martyr at all with regard to this issue. Yet, sometimes we do, not only to fully embrace the seriousness of an issue … but it is proof that someone has to go first.

I am not implying in any way that the majority of people who know what is right are sheep but rather it is a fact that not everyone has the DNA to go first. I like leaders. I advocate leadership. But I tell young kids in school that just because they don’t lead, or go first, doesn’t mean they are weak or a failure or even a coward.

I tell them they can only be judged by their ultimate actions. The when and the where of the actions are less important than the fact you may actually have taken action.

But, in the end, on the really big issues, the tough ones, someone has to go first.

Many influential people will now step out into the spotlight and try to nudge the cause forward. I am glad they are doing so (albeit I would love all of them be aligned behind education as a human right). But Malala will be truly measured by the actions of her peers … the true measure of action is the actions of the youth.

A generation hungry for knowledge.

A generation focused on enlightened decision making.

We adults should never lose sight of the fact that under any indifference we may perceive within today’s youth, there is a fire.

If we attempt to extinguish that fire I can guarantee you they will act. In fact I believe we will see this as this story and message spreads.

This young lady is certainly become a focal point on the right to get an education in that part of the globe. But, we in the west should not be putting the boundaries of this issue just geographically there. This young lady is a reminder to all of us that EVERY child everywhere deserves an education. And while in her case the point of education would be so someone could make an informed choice with regard to the Taliban. It is also a point that we want all of our children to make informed choices on all important issues – religious choices, political choices, economic choices and life choices and … well … joining any organization called the Taliban or not.

A well educated population may become more centrist (a balance of choices) but you would have to assume it moderates divisiveness in some aspects. Extremism, of any kind and situation, is typically a reflection of some choice full ignorance. I abhor all extremism because of this self-imposed ignorance aspect.

And I cannot think of anything more effective in combating that then education at a young age.

A side note <albeit an important one>.

I would like to point out <just in case anyone may be misguided on this issue> Islam is not the one in disgrace in this situation. It is the Taliban. And they are not the same.

Islam is a traditional religion of peace and an extreme minority, the Taliban, has committed this act by twisting and, ultimately tainting, the essence of Islam.

I would hope that the true Islamic people will step forward and deal with this issue.


Malala. The fact that she is articulate, has a wonderful courage of her convictions, and outlines a concise vision of equal rights, education and opportunity clearly drives the point home for all of us to think about.

And … because someone has to go first … and she did.

It reminded me of something that the great Russian writer Lermentov wrote in one of his novels:

We can no longer make great sacrifices for the good of mankind or even for our own happiness, because we know it is unattainable; and as our ancestors plunged on from illusion to illusion, so we drift indifferently from doubt to doubt. Only unlike them we have no hope, nor even that indefinable but real sense of pleasure that is felt in any struggle, be it with man or with destiny.”

Lermontov wrote this because he rejected this idea … and in the novel he had his hero, Pechorin, reject this passivity and, in fact, Malala rejected this idea.

As do I.

And I do not believe I am in the minority in this belief.

My point?

We should not seek to drift indifferently from doubt to doubt.

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Written by Bruce