Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Get Well Soon

First published on

This post is prompted by a press conference on the BBC news website. Malala Yousafzai, a fourteen-year-old schoolgirl from Pakistan, is being treated in a Birmingham hospital for a gunshot wound to the head. She’s stable.

A fourteen-year-old girl, being treated for a gunshot wound to the head.

I won’t delve into why a girl might be shot in the name of extreme religious nationalism. It won’t explore the pathos of extremism or the pigheadedness of the Taliban. Suffice to say, Malala’s tragic circumstances show how much stronger, wiser and worthier is the determined voice of progress: craving education, stoically marching to meet violence with reason and good prose.

It is easy to overlook how much this girl has given – is giving – to causes we also hold dear. Don’t take my word for it. Here are the words that led to a group of men opening fire into a school bus.

It is equally hard to estimate, for now at least, the power of the cultural earthquake which her cowardly attackers have idiotically unleashed upon their own heads.

This evening, in Pakistan, government ministers are rushing to reject this ugly brand of bigotry and the mindset that conceived it. Communities are rallying behind Malala’s call for peace. Many Muslim clerics are speaking out against such acts of violence. Young girls are saying, ‘yes – we too want to be educated; we too want to be given the same chances as our brothers.’

It is in this context that I propose not a grand act – not a demonstration; not a bold counter-strike – but a small token of appreciation. This morning, I posted a ‘Get Well Soon’ card. I wasn’t sure what to say, so I congratulated her on her remarkably well-written blog.

Perhaps you might wish to do the same – if for nothing else, then to say: “We stand by you. We wish you well. We wave the same flag as you – the flag of a global people who, in all places and at all times, deserve opportunity, equality, education and peace. Get well soon, brave young lady; the future is yours to shape.”

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Any post can be sent to:

Selly Oak Hospital,
Raddlebarn Road,
Selly Oak,
B29 6JD.

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