Malala Yousafzai is a role model for humanity. Most people have suffered far less than she has suffered and yet they are forever complaining and doing little, if anything to make the world a better place. The circumstances surrounding the childhood of most people are far more favorable than were the circumstances of Yousafzai’s childhood. Yet, most people have far less self-determination and courage than she has.
In 2012, when she was only 15 years old, she was shot three times by a member of the Taliban. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, she went on to exhibit a most extraordinary level of courage and to continue her fight for the equality of Muslim women and the education of Muslim children.
Most people are discouraged by so very much less. Indeed, there are those who are far more interested in finding excuses for complaining and pointing a finger of accusation at others than they are in doing what would make a difference for the better in the life of others.
In reflecting upon my own life, I can say without hesitation that I am both humbled and profoundly inspired by the life of Malala Yousafzai. If ever I had a reason to put things in perspective, her life has profoundly given me such a reason. What is more, her life provides an ever so real and profound and comparative perspective from which I can make personal assessments about my life. Indeed, the point just made holds for so very, very many people.
If Mala Yousafzai had wallowed in self-pity who could have blamed her? If an agonizing state of despair have filled her very being, who could have blame her? Clearly, the answer is ever so obvious: No one. But instead, she displayed a most extraordinary degree of moral fortitude. Excusing conditions are almost always available. Alas, Ms. Yousafzai is an ever so profound reminder of the deep, deep moral truth that living well is inextricably tied to refusing to wallow in excusing conditions.
Mala Yousafzai was one of two people who were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. It seems to me that no person has ever been more deserving of that prize. For her life is an ever so vivid testimony of the moral excellence of which human beings are capable and of the moral fortitude that can anchor a human life. And at 17 years of age, she is the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. (See photo image at the beginning of this blog entry.)
Her life is the exemplar par excellence of the sublime reality that no one has to be hostage to evil. For if, after having been shot three times, she had wallowed in self-pity and despair no one could have rightly blamed or condemned her. Had she given up hope, no one could have rightly criticized her. Quite simply, she did not the let the wrong—nay, the evil—done to her be an excusing for wallowing in self-pity; and that is a psychological and moral gift like none other which she gave to herself. And that is the ever so profound moral lesson that I take from her. It is my hope and prayer that as long as I continue to live I shall exemplify that form of moral excellence and never allow the wrong that I might suffer be an excuse to wallow in self-pity.
Countless many groups in the United States should reflect upon Mala Yousafzai’s life. And the point of doing so is not to deny or trivialize the depth of the road that needs to be travelled in order to bring about a more just society. Rather, the aim of reflecting upon Yousafzai’s life is to have an everlasting reminder that one can cross the bridge of moral progress with a deep and an abiding sense of goodwill. Hence, one can make the moral journey in a manner that ever so masterfully and mightily keeps evil bay. Such is the moral progress that turns evil upside down and renders it ever so impotent. Mala Yousafzai’s life is a reflection of that reality and an ever so present reminder that such a morally majestic reality is within the reach of mere mortals.
© 2014 Laurence Thomas