This post, a letter to Malala on her birthday, was written by ONE Member Delilah Harvey (featured above).
Happy Birthday, my beautiful sister!
On your birthday, a day many only receive gifts, I celebrate your existence, a far bigger gift to all people whose lives you’ve touched (which are many). In these words to you, I mean to try to express my gratitude, admiration, and kinship with you by “showing” rather than “telling.” I am sure you hear such compliments a lot, and perhaps also amazement at your accomplishments at such a young age. However, speaking from one teenager to another, from one young woman to another, I want to take a different approach.
I gave you a letter when I met you at the Malala Fund reception two weeks ago and in it I wrote that the reason why you are so important to me is because you represent hope. As a teenager nearing adulthood, I feel my youthful naiveté diminishing as I am increasingly aware of how scary the world can be. Don’t get me wrong; I know it is extremely important to know the issues the world is facing, how else can we work to make things better?
However, I feel constantly bombarded with negative images and bad news. During the darkest hour of your struggle against the Taliban, your story was part of this category of news bringing me down. Hearing you had been shot made me see the world as dark and cruel.
But it is what you chose to do next – and what you continue to do – that makes you stand apart.
You continue to fight for the things you believe in: education, safety, health, peace, and equal opportunity, with grace and courage. With gentleness and strength.
1) I don’t have to choose between ‘youthful’ hope and ‘mature’ realism. There is a balance that can exist between the two. No matter how bad something may seem, we should pursue what we believe in and always have hope that anything can be accomplished.
2) Words are always more effective than violence. Words can change the world. Use them kindly, hopefully, and strongly.
3) Peace has a place with courage and strength; the two don’t have to be used separately. Fight for what you believe in but do so peacefully. As you said in your Nobel prize acceptance speech, “I feel so much stronger after the attack that I endured, because no one can stop me, or stop us, because now we are in millions, standing up together.” The resilience you display demonstrates this concept.
I hope you have a magical day filled with love, fun, and family. As I said to you in my previous letter; You are with all of us. We are with all of you. I am with you.