I recently finished reading the book I am Malala, which is a memoir of the young woman who just recently won the Nobel Peace Prize campaigning for women’s education. Since I do not spend much time watching the news I was relatively unaware of her story. A few months ago I saw her appear on John Stewart, and was so impressed that I had to read about her life. Make no mistake: books like this do have the ability to change how you see the world.
I was instantly drawn into her story as it transported me to the hills of Northern Pakistan, where her family is from. The book begins by helping the reader to understand life in that culture as well as the place women are allowed to play in it. I have heard these ideas before, but this book helped me to understand, from a real life example, what life in this part of the world was like. The story goes on to tell of the role of women’s education, the rise of the Taliban and eventually how Malala survived the hit put on her by the Taliban themselves. While I suggest you read the story if you are interested, here are the two main points I took from this story.
1. Small Changes can lead to big ones with enough time
The way the Taliban starts making their presence known in the book is incredibly interesting. First, they come into the area and promise the people whatever it was that the government was not providing. This helps to get an initial group on their side. Next they start raising money based on the idea of helping to overthrow the corrupt government, making the changes the people want to see, etc. When they have raised the money, they start to instruct their new followers on different rules they must follow, such as women cannot walk in public without covering their heads. While annoying to many of the women, it is not the end of the world so they accept it. Next, the rules get more intense, such as women cannot shop in the market place. After that it is women cannot go to school. At the end of the time described in the novel for them to take power, they are actually killing people who help to teach women by bombing schools.
I was impacted by this idea because I feel like it is true in every way of life. The more small compromises we make, the easier it is to chip away at our convictions and beliefs until there is not much left of what we originally were. We have to be able to see the full story. We have to be visionary enough to perceive how these little changes will lead to bigger ones so that we do not give up the rights we are born to protect.
2. I can make a big difference just with what I have
The other idea that convicted me was how little Malala and her family had and yet how big of a difference she was able to make. I think it is extremely easy to think that we do not have the platform necessary to make a difference, but I would challenge that we have access to a 100 times better and more platform than someone born in a third world country has. We have money, time, basic human rights, and all of the pieces necessary to change the world. We also have Netflix, iPhones, internet and fast food which can lead us to happily sedate ourselves to what is really out there that needs to be changed. Do not let this happen.
Through reading Malala’s account, I was convicted about and challenged to not just be happy with simply going through my daily life and living with my personal comforts. I have been given many more opportunities than that. If a 16 year old girl in Pakistan can change the world, then why am I wasting time on anything that isn’t?