Isn’t it amazing how the best aphorisms prove themselves to be true year after year? Especially the one that tells us that every twenty-four hours the world turns over and somebody else is on top?
Enter “I am Malala.” It’s not just the title of Malala Yousafzai’s new book; it’s become a global mantra. Who would have believed, just a couple of years ago, that a sixteen-year-old girl from Pakistan would become one of the most talked about people in the world?
In case you didn’t see Diane Sawyer’s recent interview with Malala — and have been asleep in a cave the past six months or so (or perhaps shamelessly caught up in yet another phony government shutdown) — you know all about Malala by now. If not, you can type in “I am Malala” on Google and read to your heart’s content from among 150 million web pages.
Shot in the head at point-blank range by a psychopathic Taliban gunman for stubbornly encouraging girls to get an education, Malala not only survived, but has become a worldwide phenomenon, meeting with Queen Elizabeth, soon to be granted honorary citizenship by the Canadian government, and speaking at the United Nations.
Sounding more like Winston Churchill than a sixteen-year-old girl from Pakistan, Malala dazzled her UN audience with a remarkable array of inspirational words such as these: “The terrorists thought they would change our aims and stop our ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear, and hopelessness died. Strength, power, and courage was born.”
That Malala not only is alive and well but has become a global celebrity raises the age-old question: Why do some people escape certain death, and even become rich and/or famous in the process, while others die young from freak accidents right in their own homes? People are tired of hearing the age-old cliché that life isn’t fair. The more important question is: Why isn’t life fair?
In truth, no one has a clue, and if they tell you otherwise, they are either egomaniacal or delusional. What it all comes down to is that you not only have to play the hand you were dealt at the start of the game, you also have to play whatever cards are dealt to you as the game progresses.
Fortunately, though some cards can be fatal, most are not. So it’s a waste of time to ask, “Why was I dealt such a bad hand?” Time is a precious commodity that should be used as efficiently as possible, and one of the most efficient ways you can use it is to figure out the best way to play the cards you’ve been dealt.
In that vein, a good start is to train your mind to see every card in your hand as an opportunity. Always keep in mind that many of the greatest opportunities are hidden, so you can’t afford to be lazy when it comes to finding those hidden opportunities in your life.
Malala’s hand, and how she has played it thus far, is a classic example of this. To be born a female in a Third World country that relegates women to servant status, then to be shot in head, is about as bad as the cards get. To paraphrase a long line of immortal writers and thinkers, the gods are just, no doubt, but fate takes its cues from man — and man can be pretty inhumane.
In the case of Malala, man’s inhumanity was at its worst. But the fates overrode this inhumanity with the quick action of men and women who were both humane and skilled. Miraculously surviving the bullet that struck above her left eye, Malala was rushed to England for emergency surgery.
No one expected her to survive nearly intact, if at all. But they were wrong. It was one of those times that fate took its cue from “the gods,” and the gods were just. Here she is, only a year after having been struck in the forehead with a bullet, and her ability to inspire hundreds of millions of people through her words is astounding. She has found an enormous opportunity in the seemingly horrific hand she was dealt.
“I am Malala” is destined to become the most chanted phrase of our time, regardless of whether or not she manages to escape the thousands of Islamic psychopaths who would like to kill her. But let’s assume, and hope, that Malala remains safe for a long time to come. What then?
With that question in mind, my message to Malala is this:
Malala, your potential for making great contributions to mankind is enormous. My one concern, however, is that, even though you are exceptionally bright and worldly, you are still a child. And there are evil people in every country in the world who no doubt are already plotting ways to exploit your good intentions for political gain and power.
I say this because you have talked extensively about, and become a symbol for, equal rights, which is admirable. Equal rights, after all, is what the founding of America was all about. But, just as Americans lost their way over time, rest assured that there are misguided and even malevolent people who will try to use you as a tool to promote the idea of raw equality.
By raw equality, I mean conveniently dropping the word equal from the term equal rights. I know you are a voracious reader, Malala, and I hope you will make it a point to read the works of such liberty giants as Rose Wilder Lane, Thomas Paine, and F.A. Hayek, all of whom masterfully explained the difference between equality of results and equality of rights.
Even the legendary Will Durant — a man of the left! — explained it in a straightforward manner when he said, “… freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails the other dies.”
Malala, I urge you not allow those who promote tyranny to highjack your influence, your message, or your good intentions. You are a remarkable, gifted, and thoughtful young lady. Stay true to your belief in equal rights. Use your high profile to praise freedom, not equality. Women in your part of the world know that, in real terms, forced equality translates into equal misery.