Changing the world patiently, peacefully, without threat or coercion, may be the ultimate expression of courage. Especially when those who oppose the change you seek are anything but peaceful.
Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenager who was shot by the Taliban two years ago for having the temerity to suggest girls should have access to education, has just become the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. At 17, she has now spent more than a third of her life campaigning peacefully for what most of us in the west consider a right–and many consider a chore.
She shares the prize with Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian man who works for children’s rights and against human trafficking. His organization, Bachpan Bachao Andolan, or the Save the Childhood Movement, calls itself “India’s largest grassroots movement for the protection of children.” He, too, works peacefully, following Mahatma Gandhi’s example.
The Nobel Committee is nothing if not conscious of symbolism: the joint award of perhaps the world’s most prestigious prize to a Pakistani and an Indian, a Hindu and a Muslim, a teenager and an adult, a man and a woman, at a time when tensions between their two nations, their two faiths, their two demographics, are running high is the kind of story we expect to read about in a book, not in the news.
But the poetic nature of the choice should not take away from how richly these two people deserve it. Well done, Ms. Yousafzai. Well done, Mr. Satyarthi. May you both continue to earn this award for many years.