A 14-year-old girl wakes up at the crack of dawn. She yawns and stretches and gets out of bed. She readies for school, dresses, eats a little something and heads out the door to catch the school bus. She arrives, greets her friends, and then heads to class.
This teenager doesn't spend her time at school just hoping for the end of the day. School to her is not a drudgery or an exile from funner, frivolous pursuits. It is not to be endured but embraced. For her, education is not a sentence imposed by grownups, and it is certainly not to be taken for granted. Each little tidbit of knowledge she gains is a delicious morsel of victory.
Since she was 11, this girl has fought just to be able to go to school. To study, to learn, to have a chance -- these are things for which this teen has battled. She has fought against men, an ideology and madness. She has fought men who use guns and bombs, and she uses the only weapons she has: her pen and her mind.
This 14-year-old girl has been on the international stage in her pursuit of an education. And she has drawn international enemies. She has, in fact, had a target placed on her by the scourge of the 21st century for her efforts.
The girl is no heroine from a fictional world or another age. She exists, and as I write this, she lies in a hospital bed in Pakistan in critical condition, the victim of an assassin's bullet.
Her name is Malala Yousafzai. For three years she has spoken out against the Taliban and the maniacs that believe her education is an "obscenity." This brave girl has taken on the Islamofacist psychopaths -- who make headlines burning schools, beheading prisoners and blowing up American soldiers -- with nothing more than the power of the written word. Her enemies apparently feared her power because they hunted her down on her school bus and shot her.
Despite being shot in the head, she survives as of this writing. Her enemies have vowed to hunt her down again, to finish the job, the vehemence of their pursuit betraying both the extent of their fanatacism and their fear of the voice of reason, the voice of change.
Many in the Islamic world have condemned the attack, but many have remained silent. Government officials cry foul while the clerics -- the real people in charge of many of those countries -- keep quiet, their silence more proof of their solidarity with evil.
Pakistan's Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani released a statement that was quoted in the Washington Post: "The cowards who attacked Malala and her fellow students have shown time and again how little regard they have for human life and how low they can fall in their cruel ambition to impose their twisted ideology. ... They have no respect even for the golden words of the prophet ... that 'the one who is not kind to children, is not amongst us.'"
Oh, but he is, Kayani. I know that "amongst us" is meant to be taken as "not one of us," but unfortunately, "the one who is not kind to children" is everywhere in your religion. He is not just in the bomb or the bullet, but in the school house, the mosques, the government buildings. He is amongst you all right -- he's in the very air that you breathe. And only you can evict him. I can only hope that you have the same conviction as Malala.
Show us, big, strong, proud men of Islam. Rid yourselves -- and the world -- of the scourge. Take up Malala's mantle. Don't let her sacrifice be for nothing.
Surely you have as much courage as a 14-year-old girl.* * *My cousin, Whit Logan from Mississippi, passed away this week from a stroke. We didn't get to see each other often, but I always enjoyed it when we did. He doted on my Granny and was a straight shooter in a world that lacks them. This column is dedicated to him.
Email Nate McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.