Around the Fourth of July every year I am especially grateful that I live in the United States. I’ll read the Declaration of Independence, or the Bill of Rights and am deeply touched by the nobility, trust and unified front of our forefathers … and the women beside them.
This year, I’m reading “I am Malala” (Little, Brown and Company, 2013). It is the autobiography of Pakistani Malala Yousafzai, the outspoken 15-year-old girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for speaking out for the education of children and girls in particular. The Taliban is an Islamic fundamentalist political group that has questionably interpreted their religion’s scriptures, particularly pertaining to the rights of women.
Malala and her father, who ran the Khushal School in Swat, Pakistan, had become the voices in their country for everyone’s education. Their message spread via radio and You Tube videos until Oct. 9, 2012, when Malala was shot along with two of her girlfriends in the school van on their way to school.
What struck me all throughout the book was how The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has never had a stable government. It is the sixth-most populated country in the world and was created in 1947 as an independent nation for Muslims from the region. It became a federal parliamentary republic in 1956 but various militant, religious or political factions have revolted and taken power repeatedly.
Our country, although sometimes conflicted, especially now, has survived for 238 years. It took over 11 years to craft our Constitution, which was signed on Sept. 17, 1787. The Constitution carefully laid out government protocols that honored the majority as the will of the people, and created protocol for making changes. A government such as this demands that we educate our youth, so that they are capable of making the right decisions. We know that an educated person has a much better chance of experiencing “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
When the fireworks go off Thursday and Friday, remember what we are celebrating and what this country could be again if we could unify for the goodness for all without special interests. Here is an excerpt of the birth announcement of our country.
“The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security….
It continues with a long list of wrongs done by King George and more. I invite you to go to http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html to read it all. But read this last sentence: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
Our forefathers worked together and trusted each other even though disputes among them are noteworthy. But they were united for the good of our country.
The bullet missed Malala’s brain, but a bone chip had penetrated it. The van zoomed her to the hospital where she was heliported to a military hospital. Gathered outside were politicians, government dignitaries, provincial ministers, and even the governor paid 100,000 rupees for her treatment. TV cameras rolled and it was the top news.
The entire world was outraged. Rumors flew. She was praised and condemned. America and Americans offered their help but were denied due to political reasons. She became the “daughter of Pakistan All wanted her well.
They had to cut away some of her skull so her swelling brain had room. She deteriorated after surgery but was eventually flown to a hospital in Rawalpindi, where they continued to fear Taliban attacks and then on to a Birmingham, England Hospital.
On her 16th birthday well recovered, she spoke at the United Nations asking that all children have the right to an education. She was received well by many countries, but not Pakistan. Still, she holds onto this truth, “In the Quran it is written, God wants us to have knowledge.”
Her last sentence is, “I am Malala. My world has changed but I have not.”
• Hale `Opio Kaua’i convened a support group of adults in our Kaua’i community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Annaleah Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org