What 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai is teaching the world
A Christian Science perspective: Does the tragic shooting of Malala Yousafzai send a message to the world that evil prevails?
“Don’t worry, Baba. I am going to be fine and victory will be ours.”Skip to next paragraph
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According to a Monitor report Thursday, these were the words spoken by 14-year-old peace activist Malala Yousafzai to her father shortly after she was shot in the head by Taliban extremists in Pakistan.
In truth, they were words spoken for the entire world.
The news that a gunman stepped onto a bus full of schoolgirls, picked out the one who had become an international symbol of hope and peace, and shot her twice, leaving her in critical condition, can shake one’s faith in the power of goodness to its core. It is, quite simply, one of the most despicable acts of which humanity would seem capable.
But it did not shake Malala, nor should it shake us.
To the material world, the events in the Swat Valley of Pakistan would seem to be evidence of evil attacking good and perhaps triumphing for a season. It seems certain, however, that Malala at least caught a glimpse of the truth that probes beyond human sense to the heart of the matter. And it is this: Her defiance against the claim of evil to have control over her – to keep from the girls of Pakistan a better life, to intimidate them into silence, or to take from the purity of her faith any sense of “victory” – is inestimably more powerful than any extremist’s bullet.
And the Taliban know it.
Throughout all time, the martyr’s role has been to rouse a dormant sense of love and justice among the fearful or indifferent. In Pakistan, the Taliban have in many respects been tolerated. They have taken the cloak of piety with their long beards and prayers. They have taken the cloak of brotherhood with their Pashtun ways. They have taken the cloak of nationalism with their jihad against the interests of India and the West.
But Malala saw through these lies. And because of her, they have now been exposed for all Pakistan to see, perhaps for the first time.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, delved deeply into the modes of evil in order to understand how it could seem to have such power if, as the first letter of John in the Bible says, “God is love” (I John 4:8). What she found is that evil cannot withstand goodness. If it is once seen for what it is, it is universally condemned by the good in our hearts – so it lies, deceives, and commits hypocrisies in its desire to remain hidden. “The wisdom of a serpent is to hide itself,” Mrs. Eddy says (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 210).