Sometimes we doubt our own power, especially when faced with overwhelming circumstances. We doubt that what we say can have any real effect on the problems of the world. I know that what I say to you in this blog won’t bring about world peace or solve any global crisis. However, I do know through the emails I receive, that every now and again I have an effect. I do know that every once in a while I make a connection and hopefully help one or two of you realize that you are not alone in the world with your experiences and your feelings; that there are those of us who understand your struggles.
Sometimes a voice comes along that is so powerful, so heartfelt, and so truthful; it actually touches thousands, and maybe millions of lives around the world. Sometimes that voice comes from the most unlikely place, such as a little girl from Pakistan. Malala Yousufzai has been blogging since she was 11 years old. She has been blogging about her experiences as a little girl growing up under the Taliban. Her brave words, published by the BBC and read by people around the globe have made her a voice for world peace. She has also been the subject of a documentary. Malala is 14 years old now and this week Taliban gunmen boarded her school bus and shot her in the head.
While it looks like Malala will survive, we don’t know whether she will ever be the same. What we do know is that she was a Taliban target because of her blog. Her words and her truth were so powerful that some of the most dangerous men on the planet felt they needed to stop her.
Here’s the thing. Whether Malala ever writes another word again, they did not stop her. Her words are still out there. In fact, because of this incident, more of us will actually be searching the internet, looking for her blog and related stories. More people than ever around the globe will be reading the truth about what happens to women, children and even men who seek peace and justice in Pakistan and once truth starts to spread there is no stopping it.
The sad thing is that while this horribly violent act has received great publicity, it is not rare. This happens every single day in countries in the Middle East, and around the world. Every single day children die in suicide bombings, car bombings and mortar fire. Children like Malala who want to go to school, who want to play with their friends, and who want to grow up to do all the things all of our children want to do, die every single day. Children and mothers who take their very lives in their hands every day, just going to the market, just going to school. Most of the time we will never know their names. We know the name of this one little girl but behind her stand thousands and thousands of children who have been victims of the same hatred and violence.
We can’t continue to ignore things that happen on the other side of the planet. We can’t continue to pretend that it does not affect us here. As long as violence of this kind is happening anywhere on our planet, none of us are truly safe or free. Are we? As long as we continue to send our sons and daughters to serve in these areas of the world, let me tell you without a doubt, that it affects us here at home.
We have to remember every single one of the children.
My son has a picture that haunts me; of a little girl from Baghdad. She is wearing a pink dress and standing outside her home and my son is kneeling in front of her. I know he is speaking gently to her and laughing the same way he did in the video he made the day he and his fellow soldiers brought school supplies and soccer balls to the local school. I know he thought of his own four little sisters back here at home. He told me he gave her and her brother colored pencils and paper. Because of the language difference, he never did learn her name.
Her parents were helping the Americans in their mission to rebuild the schools and protect the children. Her parents were helping the Americans so that their little girl could go to school, so that she could learn to read and fulfill her dreams, so that she could do all the things that my little girls had the opportunity to do. Maybe she would have grown up to be a writer.
A few days after the photo was taken the little girl and her brother were blown up in their family’s mini-van. They were targeted specifically because their parents were helping the Americans in the rebuilding of their country.
Little girls are victims of violence every day, all over the world. That statistics are staggering. On this, International Girls Day, let’s take a moment to remember all the children whose names we don’t know. Let’s remember not to take the rights and privileges we have in this country for granted. Let’s remember to vote our conscious whenever issues related to women, children and violence are on the agenda. Let’s speak out and let us remember that even one voice, like the voice of a little girl from Pakistan, can be very, very powerful.