Malala Still Speaks

She had me with the first individual she thanked – her father. She stood before a very intimidating crowd, calling out the world for the too-long lingering problems that plague humankind. But first she said: “I thank my father for not clipping my wings and letting me fly!”

“I watched in my home town as beautiful dreams were turned into nightmares.” But first, “I thank my mother for inspiring me to be patient and to always speak the truth.”

“I had two options,” she said; “to remain silent and be killed, or to speak up and be killed. I chose the second one – I chose to speak up!” But first, “Thank you to my teachers who inspired me to be brave.”

In a country where Republicans and Democrats can’t extend an arm across the aisle of government with a willingness to hold a hearing for a Supreme Court Nominee, this young Pakistani woman shared the Noble Peace Prize with Kailash Satyarthi – an Indian Man – and proclaimed that she was honored to be in his presence – “someone who has been working on Children’s Rights twice as long as I have been alive!”

It takes a teenager to show adults how to behave, how to compromise, how to extend the hand of grace between Muslim and Hindu.

She had me with the line: “Neither their bullets nor their terror could silence me or my friends – my sisters.” And then she pointed into the crowd – the young women who had been on the bus with her that day. The ones who were shot, tortured, whose brother died. And suddenly the power of her voice increased as she drew the circle wide.

“I am not a lone voice,” she said. “I am many voices!. I am Malala; but I am also the sixty-six million girls who are deprived of an education!”

She had me when she posed her questions: “Why is it we are so powerful in bringing war, but so weak in bringing peace? Why is it that giving guns is so easy, but giving books is so hard? Why is it that making tanks is so easy but building schools is so hard?”

She told of the time, during a celebration when the young girls decorated their hands with henna – drawing designs and flowers on their palms; she and her friends wrote mathematical formulas on their hands.

The youngest ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, she let it be known her journey would not stop having reached what many would say is a significant pinnacle in life.

As she drew near the conclusion of her lecture, she drove her point home. With regard to the challenges we have faced in our world and the steps we have taken to bring about justice, security for our children, inclusion for all – she expressed gratitude for the “steps”

“But now,” she challenged, “let’s take a leap!”

I want to add my voice to Malala’s – all the people she said “thank you” to in her Nobel Lecture, I join her! I say “thank you” to the parents and teachers and classmates – to all the people who made it possible for this young woman to find her voice – I say “Thank You!” And thanks be to God … Malala is speaking still.

Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel Peace Prize Lecture

Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.