Today, along with Kailash Satyarthi of India, Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2012 when she was 15, Malala was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban. Miraculously, she was not killed.
In her memoir, I am Malala, Malala writes, “My friends told me the gunman’s hand was shaking as he fired.” So, why did that man’s hand shake when he stopped Malala’s school bus, boarded it, and opened fire? Was he nervous? Had he been sent to do something he didn’t really want to do? Was he born a killer or was someone trying to turn him into one? Did the tremor in his hand speak a deeper truth than the bullet that ripped through the edge of Malala’s skull? Did it signal, perhaps, a glimmer of hope?
In another place, Malala wonders what she would do if she encountered her shooter. She imagines hitting him with her shoe, an extreme sign of disrespect in her culture. After giving it some thought, she decides against it. To do so would make her no better than him, she reasons. If peace is to become more of a reality in the world, we must stop the cycle of violence. Even the most powerless person in the world has power to do that: stop the violence that flows from her or his own life.
Malala ends her memoir with this: “Peace in every home, every street, every village, every country–this is my dream. Education for every boy and every girl in the world.”
Today, the world celebrates Malala’s work and life as a Nobel laureate. I don’t know Malala, but I feel certain that she would say the best way to honor her is to learn peace and live it in the world.
Here’s a song I wrote this summer in honor of this amazing young woman. Thank you, Malala!