“One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world,” said Malala Yousafzai
Who would you rather be? A slave or a lion?
I had the privilege to watch the documentary on an inspiring young teenager’s journey as she survived a gunshot to the head from the Taliban in Pakistan for speaking out for a right to education. She lived a risky life there, and was a refugee in her own country at one point. There is often a confusion between religion and terrorism. It’s not the same. The Taliban and any extremist group were not selling religion or faith; they were selling an ideology. We shouldn’t forget this doesn’t only happen in developing countries. We see this in our very own modern developed countries, just disguised in a different form. We also see this in history.
When the Taliban first started, people thought they were good. When Napoleon first started, people thought he was good too. But then it changed. Power and greed took over. When Wall Street was booming, people thought profit was great! But when we saw the greed and power leading to the 2008 financial crisis, it’s not so fun anymore is it?
As someone from the Middle East, I want to remind the world, misuse of power isn’t only evident in the forms of violence and weapons. It can be seen in the CEO’s of large organizations. It can be seen through women and LGBT communities who continue to fight the unequal salary battles.
Why do we call it “coming out of the closet”? Why did the closet exist in the first place? Why do we have to silence who we are because of what society dictates what the ‘norm’ is? Why do people have to risk their lives and reputation to go to school, get an education, and gain a position requiring more responsibility?
Malala did not stop being an education activist. She is bravery. She stood up. One very interesting point she made is she is indifferent than the 66 million and more girls who are deprived of education. She isn’t unique, and this is why her story is one she shares with many. Raise your voice because children have the right to childhood, and people have the right to education.
Education gives you the power to challenge & question things. Despite the destruction of over 300 schools in Taliban, Malala continued to raise her voice. Fear will silent you. So be brave.
My personal connection to Malala’s story
I was always the girl in class who raised my hands. That is the number one thing my father pinned into my head every day before he sent me off to school. “Always ask. Don’t stop asking until you truly understand. Don’t be ashamed.” I carry his words to this very day. In university, I challenged the tradition ‘race to the bottom’ and infinite economy growth our textbooks outlined in my business textbooks. Does it make sense? If the sole purpose of business was to generate continuous wealth for a small amount of people, what would our world look like in 20 years?
We are already seeing the effects of polluted air, water, and extreme drought. I am not an environmentalist. Yes, the environment is at risk, but so are political and social systematic issues. I am being activist for the people in the Middle East who wake up every day hoping they won’t have to hear a bombing, or the children in China who hope to be able to see the moon or just one star in the clouds of smog. I am being an activist to change the way our schools teach business. I am the change, and will continue my passion, values, and loud voice till it makes an impact! There is no time more critical than now for the privileged nations to do something, take action, and accept that we have to change, for the benefit of not a few, but for the greater. It’s time to think about ‘us’ and not just ‘me’.
So who would you rather be? A slave or a lion? Being a loud lion comes with its risks, but the misery you drown yourself in as a slave will kill you slowly with great suffer.
Here are a few simple questions: Do we have the right to social, environmental, political, and economic sustainability? Do we have the right to education? Do we have the right to clean air? Do we have the right to grow food in our own backyards? Do we have the right to go off-grid and self-sustain our renewable energy supply? I believe everything starts with education, and this is only the beginning.
It’s so hard to get things done in this world. You try so hard, and too often it doesn’t work. But you have to keep going because every NO is a step closer to getting you to a YES. You have to keep trying, and raise your voice, ask those challenging questions. Unbiased education questions things, and make you think critically, and holistically. Think about our current climatic, social, and economic issues. How will we solve it? Change is tough, but so is life. It is up to every one of us to pursue this change.
Education has the power to change things for the better, and this life, is a choice. So what’s your choice? A slave or a lion?