“Thank you to God, for whom we are all equal.” So Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by Pakistani Taliban last year, began her address to the UN Youth Assembly on her 16th birthday, and called for improvements in global education.
This speech was one of the most comprehensive addresses I have ever heard establishing a constructive theology for nonviolent social change.
Malala said she was shot in the head by the Taliban, and they have killed many other students and teachers, but she would not take revenge.
“This is the compassion that I have learnt from Muhammad-the prophet of mercy, Jesus Christ and Lord Buddha. This is the legacy of change that I have inherited from Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. This is the philosophy of non-violence that I have learnt from Gandhi Jee, Bacha Khan and Mother Teresa. And this is the forgiveness that I have learnt from my mother and father. This is what my soul is telling me, be peaceful and love everyone.”
At the end of the day, it is a matter of who God is and how God wants us to treat one another.
“I remember that there was a boy in our school who was asked by a journalist, ‘Why are the Taliban against education?’ He answered very simply. By pointing to his book he said, ‘A Talib doesn’t know what is written inside this book,’” she said. “They think that God is a tiny, little conservative being who would send girls to the hell just because of going to school.
No, God is not a ‘tiny, little conservative’ who sends little girls to hell just because of going to school’ and all our theology and ethics must live up to that profound claim.