On Sunday, thousands gathered in a Pakistan rally to show support for Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old girl who attended school in defiance of Taliban threats.
CNN interviewed Malala last year on speaking out about girls’ rights. It’s wonderful to watch this poised young firecracker smile at the CNN reporter as he asks her why she thinks she can make a difference.
“I think that my people need me, and if I don’t raise my voice now, when will I raise my voice?” she said. “I have the right to education. I have the right to play. I have the right to sing. I have the right to talk. I have the right to go to market. I have the right to speak up.”
For Malala, speaking up is a religious imperative. The CNN reporter asked her what she would say to other girls who are too afraid to speak up.
“Don’t stay in your room, because God will ask you on the Day of Judgment, ‘where were you?’” she said.
And what would she say if she were President and she met the Taliban leaders?
“I would show them what the Quran says, the Quran didn’t say that girls aren’t allowed to go to school,” she said.
“In the course of human events,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in our Declaration of Independence, it becomes necessary for someone to stand up and demand to be treated as they believe they should.
Malala’s actions are not the emotional response of a young girl. They are the thought-out beliefs that have been embraced by people of faith through the ages.
That courage and confidence strikes fear into the heart of the Taliban and others who would have us forever oppressed. May we always keep the fact of our inherent worth in our minds, and may we always have the courage to fight for the rights our worth provides.