A 14-year-old can inspire the world

Most of us can’t comprehend the mindset that it takes to be so fearful of girls being educated in Pakistan that you’d try to kill a 14-year-old for speaking out on allowing girls to go to school. On Tuesday, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck by Taliban gunmen while she was riding her school bus. Malala is a fighter and doctors report that she is improving following surgery.

This barbaric and cowardly act is the result of extremism that’s too common in parts of the world. Fortunately, many leaders in the region are speaking out against the shooting. The Taliban claimed that Malala was “promoting Western culture.” How can anyone, no matter how extreme, argue that it’s not a good thing to send girls to school? But maybe the Taliban is really afraid of an educated populace rejecting its version of the world.

Malala is a courageous champion for the rights of all of us. We should consider the Taliban’s action against her as actions against all of us. We should praise the leaders who have spoken out publicly against the shooting and add our collective voices. This can’t be just another terrorist act that’s soon forgotten, as other terrorist acts are committed and cloud our memory.

A 14-year-old girl should be safe on a school bus. She should be allowed to get an education. It seems so simple in our world because we take so many things for granted. Let’s not forget Malala and let’s demand that she be protected from future attacks by the Taliban. The group has said it will finish the job. That can’t be allowed to happen to this 14-year-old girl who inspires us.

As former First Lady Laura Bush writes in a commentary that’s running on Friday’s op/ed page in The Bee:

“Malala inspires us because she had the courage to defy the totalitarian mind-set others would have imposed on her. Her life represents a brighter future for Pakistan and the region. We must speak up before these acts occur, work to ensure that they do not happen again, and keep our courage to continue to resist the ongoing cruelty and barbarism of the Taliban. Malala Yousafzai refused to look the other way. We owe it to her courage and sacrifice to do the same.”