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BEING THERE: Malala Yousafzai @ The NCC

Photo by PETE TROSHAK

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, one Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi, in the midst of a light saber duel to the death with one Darth Vader, Dark Lord Of The Sith, declared: “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.” He was not kidding. Nobody in this galaxy has proven the verity of Obi-Wan’s prophecy more incontrovertibly than Malala Yousafzai. One day she was just a tiny voice for advocating for the right of girls to get an education in then-Taliban-controlled Swat Valley. And then the Taliban sent two men to kill her. They boarded her school bus, shot the 15-year-old in the face and left her for dead. But a funny thing happened, she didn’t die. Instead, she became more powerful than the Taliban could possibly imagine. The whole world was outraged, and the attempted assassination backfired: instead of silencing Malala, she now has the whole world on her side. Last week she was awarded the Nobel Peace prize. Last night she received the Liberty Medal Award from the National Constitution Center. When she addressed the crowd, her message was unsurprising: governments should spend money on educating people instead of spending money on bullets and bombs and death. You would think this would go without saying, but sadly it does not. So somebody’s got to say it. And when nobody else had the courage to speak up, Malala stood up and said it out loud — said it louder than bombs — and became a living martyr. She has literally devoted her life to the cause of justice and enlightenment. May The Force be with her. – JONATHAN VALANIA

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