Malala Yousafzai: Education for Peace

I took a Middle Eastern Studies course my first year at Laurier.  I had planned to minor in it, originally, having found the culture fascinating.  But I found the entire region so disorienting to study, I didn’t continue with it beyond that intro course.  I still have the textbooks.

Even now, when I try to navigate the dynamics, the history, the culture, I am at a loss.  It’s almost too patchwork for my orderly, logical mind to process.  The course of events and influences on this region of our world has been cataclysmic, if you want to get dramatic about it.

I willingly admit, I have an overload of information coming at me through media and can’t process it all.  As I try to sort the individual biases from each source of information, then dissect the information they are imparting…sadly, once I’ve removed the conjecture, bias and stereotypes from any piece, there is little information being provided by too much of what we are calling “news”.  So, I don’t have a complete picture and that bugs me.

What is really going on over there and why?  What do we do about it… war?…but what about peace …. diplomacy hasn’t worked…Without real understanding, I’m scared about what it all means.  What’s going to happen?  WWIII scary, no?  (is that just anxiety talking?)  Aren’t you scared, even a little?  I grew up and was active for peace during the Cold War and was never this concerned  the guy at the switch was so unpredictable!

I have always believed peace is achievable – I do what I can to make it happen in my lifetime.  I was more “active” about it as an emerging and young woman.  I’m much more passive about the ways I try to bring peace now.  I’ve been so inundated with scary imagery of the Middle East in the last 11 years though, I simply don’t know what to believe or believe in anymore (about this situation, I mean, not, like, existentially or anything!)  

And ultimately, I would ask myself:  Do I support the troops going over or not?

Cause really, that’s what this ultimately boils down to isn’t it?


I read “A Soldier First” by General (Ret.) Rick Hillier, (Chief of Defence Staff from Feb 2005 to June 2008) just to try to see it from a soldier’s perspective; is this worth it?  If only after reading that.  Yes, definitely, yes.  And that surprises the hell out of me!  I’ve never believed in violence to end violence. And frankly, neither does he.  The Taliban (and their ilk; there are others, less powerful) is out of control and “the bad guys” have guns, balls of steel, and desperation to back them up.  They will not negotiate for peace.  Period.


I remember when a girl (15) was shot in October, 2012 by the Taliban because she was a threat. Of course I was shocked! Who wasn’t?  Education.  That is what she quietly, but sadly, no longer innocently, demands.  Education for every child.  She is an activist for education as the solution for peace.  Bravo!

I haven’t followed her closely.  But knowing in the back of my mind Malala Yousafzai was “up” for a Nobel Peace Prize, I was propelled to watch the video I came across from her appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  I have linked to the uncut, extended version.

I would like to say I was speechless, but I wasn’t.  I was engaged so dramatically that I actually clapped for many of the incredibly profound things she said with tears of pride and exclamations of approval.  Sixteen.  16!

I will be getting her book, you can be sure of that.  Before I read it, I want to say that even hearing her speak so mildly of the tragedies, injustices and indignities she and her people have suffered reinforces my earlier thought and now louder:  “YES!”

Malala Yousafzai is an eloquent young lady. I said an “aw shucks” this morning when I heard she did not receive the Nobel Peace Prize for which she had been nominated.  That she campaigns for education for peace only endears her more to me.  She is a threat because she fights for education, because education empowers people.  What a world.  What a champion though.  If there is idiocy enough to strike her down for her cause, then thank goodness her eloquence, passion and strength of conviction are there to strike back.  But with peace:

[Jon Stewart] Source:
When did you realize that the taliban had made you a target

[Malala Yousafzai] Source:
When in 2012, we were – I was with my father and someone came and she told us have you seen on Google if you search your name that the Taliban has threatened you, and I could not believe it, I said it’s not true, and even after threat we saw it; I was not worried about myself that much I was worried about my father, because we thought that the Taliban are not that much cruel that they would kill a child, cause I was 14 at that time.

But then later on I used to – I started thinking about that and and I used to think that the Talib would come and he would just kill me, but then I said: if he comes what would you do Malala?

Then I would reply myself: that Malala take a shoe and hit him, but then I said – then I said:

If you hit a Talib with your shoe then there would be no difference between you and the Talib, you must not treat others that much with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace, and through dialogue and through education.

[Malala Yousafzai] Source:
Then I said: I’ll tell him how important education is and that I even want education for your children as well and I will tell him that’s what I want to tell you. Now do what you want.

While confirming some of my dates and obtaining some of my links, I came across an article from the CBC [dot com].  I wanted to share the following quote:

“The thing that I noticed in my life during that situation was that before the terrorism, I used to carry a heavy bag to school and I used to learn every day, but I did not know how important education is until we were stopped,” she told Tremonti.

“I realized that the terrorists are against education and especially girls’ education because they are afraid of it.”

University has never been a non-option for my kids and they’ve always known it. I’m truly grateful my kids didn’t have to lose it to understand how important it is (and not just because I remind them almost every day).  I’m truly grateful that there is a younger generation so full of hope, fire and passion as I have been, since a young age, to take up the mantle for peace.  And I’m inspired by Malala’s charisma and message.



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