America’s youth have an extremely twisted and warped perspective of what constitutes a hero. We live in a society in which pop music stars like Miley Cyrus, Lil Wayne, and the like actively poison the minds of our children who blindly consume the trash these individuals put out under the guise of “music.” Of course, the bad examples are not limited to the music industry, they are found on the sets of blockbuster movies and even in our nation’s Capitol.
Too often these individuals make headlines for some nonsensical action for which they suffer few, if any, consequences because celebrity status nearly always seems to be coupled with a corrupt arrogance that allows these individuals to act as they please. As a nation, we have a duty to educate our children on the ignorance of these individuals who sell material promoting drugs, rebellion, and the degradation of women.
We have become accustomed to seeing these types of stories on the evening news; so when someone shakes things up a bit, we see a glimmer of hope for the world’s celebrities. Here’s a name I will bet your teenager does not know. She is not found in a music studio or on the set of next year’s big movies. In fact, she is not even American.
Her name is Malala Yousafzai and she is an international hero.
Malala is a 16-year-old Pakistani girl with one of the most inspirational stories I have ever heard. On October 9, 2012, Malala was shot mercilessly in the head by Taliban forces in Pakistan. These radical Islamists shot Malala and two of her friends in an attempt at murdering the girls for “attack[ing]” Islam. The friends were traveling home from school when the militants boarded the bus and shot them simply because these radicals do not believe women have a right to an education.
Following the shooting, Malala was flown to England where she underwent extensive surgeries to repair the bullet’s damage to her skull. Over the past year, while recovering from this tragedy, Malala has received international attention and has been hailed as a hero. This near death experience has not stopped Malala from fighting for what she fiercely believes in.
In an interview, Malala said that she hopes “that a day will come [when] the people of Pakistan will be free, they will have their rights, there will be peace and every girl and every boy will be going to school.” She understands the value of an education and the potential for any individual to make a difference in society.
As the past year has shown, it will take more than a bullet to the head to dampen Malala’s inspirational spirit. She has emerged as one of the world’s strongest voices in the fight for equality. At age 16 she has visited the Obamas in the White House and the Queen at Buckingham Palace in addition to numerous other influential leaders around the world.
Earlier in October of this year, Malala was faced with a new threat from the Taliban that she remains a target, and if they find the opportunity, they will attempt to kill her again. Jon Stewart asked what she would do if she encountered another Taliban assassin to whom she replied, “I’ll tell him how important education is, and that I even want education for your children as well. That’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want.”
We live in a society that has degraded the meaning of the term hero to the extent that when true ones come along, we rarely recognize them. It is my hope to remain strong and passionate for the things I believe, and I challenge you to do the same. “They thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed,” she said at a United Nations conference. “And then out of the silence came thousands of voices.”