The face of courage

Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai

By Marsha Sutton

What does it say about an ideology that is so afraid of a 16-year-old girl’s words that its radicals want to assassinate her? How pathetic do they have to be to fear a little girl?

Well, in truth, this is not just any little girl. This is Malala Yousafzai, the diminutive hero whose words and deeds have shown the international community that she is a giant, with wisdom and eloquence beyond her size and age – and a magical ability to touch the hearts and souls of the world.

Now 16, Malala at age 14 survived the appalling brutality of an assassination attempt, to recover and tell the world that she will not, cannot, be silenced.

Shot point-blank in the head for advocating for a girl’s right to education, Malala touched us deeply with her determination and courage. Today she brings tears to our eyes with her compassionate pleas for peace, education and equality. Pakistan can be proud of what they have given the world through Malala, who speaks for so many.

As a western nation, sophisticated in so many ways, what does America have to offer? Sadly, our “heroes” in the teenage girl department are less than admirable characters like Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and the Kardashians. Imagine if these girls and young women used that adoration to advocate for worthy causes.

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Marsha Sutton

Our pop-culture society idolizes female sexual energy, especially precocious underage nymphets who waste their potential power to do good on frivolous, hollow, greed-driven pursuits like the display of half-naked bodies dancing on stiletto heels.

In contrast, Malala covers her body modestly but certainly isn’t shy about displaying her brains.

Instead of the stage being an MTV performance or the half-time show at the Super Bowl, the real stage for more young girls should be a podium and a microphone where they might be a voice for the weak and oppressed.

Instead of blathering nonsensically on vapid television talk shows about their latest boyfriends or their favorite hair stylists, we need more young American girls emulating grace under pressure in serious interviews by the world’s top journalists as they speak passionately about issues of substance.

In short, is there anything we can do to encourage today’s kids to replace Miley with Malala as the top teen idol?

Can there come a time when Western-educated girls no longer take their education for granted and choose modest clothing and maybe even head scarves as symbols of intelligence and power?

I’m not optimistic.

In one of my favorite on-line comments on the cavernous awareness gap between Malala and most teenagers in America, one writer lamented over the trivial obsessions of the youth generation by facetiously saying that Malala “makes the rest of us feel bad for spending our teen years trying to get into the pants of other teens rather than becoming an international symbol for the fight against injustice.”

After hearing Malala on the interview circuit last week talking about her long recovery, her continued pursuit of free and safe education for girls and women, her book, and the possibility of winning the Nobel Peace Prize (which disappointingly she was not awarded), who could not be moved by her words?

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