Malala Yousafzai narrowly escaped death after being shot in the head by the Taliban. Her crime was nothing more than going to school. But as a girl living in Pakistan at the time, that act itself was political, and so the rest of life’s events unfolded as they did.
I remember hearing the news when she lay in hospital in England, and her father (himself an educator) spoke to the media. He impressed me with his strong advocacy for girl’s rights – and it struck me how fortunate she was to have a father who supported her. So many clearly did not.
But that was when she was 15, and whether she would even live to see 17 was still in question.
Two years later and her face blankets the children’s section at Chapters bookstores, something that seems odd at first, until you learn that she has been an active writer since the age of 11 when the BBC approached her to blog anonymously about her experience as a schoolgirl in Pakistan.
Why I mention this now is to remind us all of the power we have to affect world events – and that there is nothing that stands in our way.
American psychologist James Hillman said children are our wayshowers. In his book The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling, he outlined how our spiritual purpose reveals itself in childhood long before we are even aware that anything has happened.
He spoke about how rather than living our lives as “victims” of our childhood, our childhood is where we play out our future roles and work to refine it and “grow down” as we get older.
The parents’ job then is not to squelch that part of ourselves, but to revere it – and that is just what Malala’s father did when he allowed her to stay up at night long after her brothers were in bed so she could talk politics.
We are each of us powerful creative beings, and that starts from the moment of our birth. We grow in to who we already are – some of us like Malala have the courage and conviction to do so far more boldly than others.
This prize tells the world that there is no limitation. We are never too old or too young to do what is set before us. We are never too old or too young to work for justice and for peace. We are never too old or too young to see the world with loving eyes. We are never too old or too young to be who we are.
Malala has given a voice to so many girls who had none. She has done the same for all children who live in places of the world where education is afforded only to the few.
And the Nobel Peace Prize bestowed on her has given voice to indomitable spirit that is in all of us.