Everyone has been talking about 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai and her outspoken advocacy of women and education (we certainly have been). Tuesday night, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize nominee went on television to speak on one of America’s greatest and prestigious stages—that’s right, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. And so commenced the first time I’ve wept while watching Comedy Central (aside from whenever I watch 50 First Dates).
Being in the public eye after an assassination attempt is not an experience most young women her age are used to facing, but the answers she gave to each of Stewart’s questions were mature, inspiring, and really beautiful.
How does a teenager respond to the realization that a highly organized terrorist group wants her dead? Stewart, himself, was floored by the answer:
I started thinking about that, and I used to think that the Talib would come, and he would just kill me. But then I said, 'If he comes, what would you do Malala?' then I would reply to myself, 'Malala, just take a shoe and hit him.' But then I said, 'If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.' Then I said I will tell him how important education is and that 'I even want education for your children as well.' And I will tell him, 'That's what I want to tell you, now do what you want.’
The humility and earnestness with which she answers is astounding. This is a girl who has her priorities straight, and it really couldn’t hurt to take some lessons from her.
J-Stew may be planning to adopt her, but I call dibs on being her bff.