A Young Dove of Peace Flies In the Face of the Taliban
SANTA MONICA — A young dove of peace with dreams in her eyes almost got shot down.
A schoolgirl named Malala has lessons for us all. She's just joined the rare company of female winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala Yousafzai, a champion for girls' education, was shot and almost slain for speaking out in her country, Pakistan.
We know her as "Malala." The Pakistani girl is also the youngest Peace laureate since the Nobel Prize was first awarded in 1901.
Just days after the world's eyes were on Malala receiving the Prize, the Pakistani Taliban struck again. Evil is here to stay a while. The Taliban staged a nightmarish scene of a school massacre that claimed the lives of about 150 students and staffers at an army school in Peshawar. The Taliban described killing children as retaliation against the nation's military in Malala's corner of the globe.
My mother Judith Hick Stiehm, wrote "Champions for Peace," a wonderful book about women winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, so I have an expert right here at hand. As she writes, "(Some) are not always successful. Still, these winners are examples. They illustrate what an individual can do, how important a single act can be."
Malala falls in the category of symbolic champion, with much unfinished work ahead, she explained, but Malala is someone who gives the world hope in overcoming oppression.
With excellent timing, Norway's Nobel Committee honored the young dove with dreams for the 2014 Peace Prize just as the world starts the season of wonder. The American soul is troubled from reports of violent policing at home and secret torture abroad. Her bright spirit is just what we need.
Malala's survival from a bullet in the face and inspirational message has resonated with multitudes. In an electrifying acceptance speech in Oslo, Malala noted she stood where Martin Luther King Jr., once stood.
As my mother told me, Malala also made history as only the 16th female singled out for the greatest recognition humanity has to give.
For what is more fundamental — and elusive — to human happiness than peace?
Alfred Nobel, the Swedish industrialist who invented dynamite, believed the 20th century world should point toward more peace congresses, fewer standing armies and greater fraternity among nations. These are the criteria considered by a Norwegian parliamentary committee every year.
Malala paid tribute to joining the august company of Aung San Suu Kyi and 14 other women Peace Prize laureates. Kyi's late father was the symbol of independence for Burma. When he was assassinated, she carried on his legacy for years, symbolizing independence even under house arrest. She left her family in England behind. She is now released in a more active official role.
I asked my mother if she could meet any woman winner of the Peace, who would it be?
She replied: Bertha von Suttner. An impoverished Austrian aristocrat, there was no end to her dreams for peace. She even influenced Nobel, a friend of hers, to create the Peace Prize.
"I like Bertha, so energetic and the reason we have a Peace Prize," my mother replied. "She wrote a best-selling anti-war novel, 'Lay Down Your Arms!' and she was an activist for woman suffrage."
My favorite is Jane Addams, a leader in the Women's International League for Peace Freedom. I also enjoy the contrast between the Austrian aristocrat and the Mayan Indian peasant leader for human rights, Rigoberta Menchu, the Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Muta Maathai and the president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Let's not forget Barack Obama. By forging diplomatic relations with Cuba anew, after a nearly a half-century of frost, the president is living up to the ideals of the Nobel Peace Prize, which he won in 2009 - widely taken as a rebuke to George Bush for starting the Iraq War.
To find out more about Jamie Stiehm, and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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