Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Education Is Worth Dying For

Fourteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai started writing a blog for the BBC when she was 11 years old.  She was awarded Pakistan's first National Youth Peace Prize.  Yesterday, the Pakistani Taliban shot her in the head.  Why?  She wanted to go to school.  She believes girls should have an education.  "I don't mind if I have to sit on the floor at school," she has said.  "All I want is an education.  And I am afraid of no one."  The Taliban considered this an obscenity.  "Let this be a lesson," they said.  Malala's father ran one of the last schools to defy the Taliban's orders ending female education.

I read about this in the paper today.  I felt such a wave of emotions - rage, heartbreak, pride.  I wanted to stand on a rooftop somewhere and celebrate this girl and her father for being so brave and courageous on behalf of education.  I wanted to thank them for reminding me just exactly how important education is.  Important enough to die for.  Talk about putting everything else in perspective.  Talk about inspiring, and humbling.

I wanted to scream in fury that there are still people in the world so full of hate and fear, so twisted in their view of the female gender, that this could happen.  The next time someone calls me or any other woman a "feminazi," I may want to punch them in the face.  There is a reason we can't sit back and think the battles for women's rights are all done and the war is over.

I wanted to shove the article in front of everyone and anyone who slams the United States and the West and says we're fascists.  There's a lot that's wrong with our country, but, damn it, we have public education for all genders, all races, all income levels, all ability levels, and whatever the politicians may say about our education system, we strive for equity for all those disparate groups.  The U.S. public education system is predicated on the notion that everyone has the right to an education.  Everyone.

Two years ago, I had a girl from Pakistan in my third grade class.  I remember the gratitude her mother expressed at parent-teacher conferences.  But I don't think I truly understood until now.  I had no idea what a powerful act I was involved in by giving that girl an education.

I hope 14 year old Malala Yousafzai survives this horrible attack.  I hope she can still say she is afraid of no one.  I hope I never forget that to her, education is worth dying for.

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