Unlearn the Lesson of Obedience

Sunday

The following was written by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love. The piece was originally published on her Facebook page and her blog.

Last night at the TED conference, I wept while listening to Ziauddin Yousafzai speak about his daughter, Malala.

You have have heard of Malala Yousafzai. She is the brave young Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman for speaking up on behalf of education for girls.

Her father began his extraordinary speech by saying that in tribal and patriarchal societies, a man is known by his sons. "But I am one of the few fathers who is known by my daughter," he said. "And I am proud of that."

He spoke about how, in rural Pakistan, when a girl is born, it is never cause for celebration, but rather shame. As she grows up, she is taught only one virtue: Obedience.

Yousafzai refused to follow suit. He celebrated his daughter from the day she was born, and wrote her name in the family tree — a 300 year-old document that had never mentioned a female. He put Malala in school — not only so that she could know her own potential through education, but also for the mere political defiance of writing his daughter's name on an enrollment form, thus signaling her very existence as a human being. (He had never seen the names of any of his 5 sisters on any document whatsoever; they simply did not exist within their own country.)

And most of all he said, "I taught her to unlearn the lesson of obedience."

Which was such a shocking transgression that a Taliban gunman shot her for it. (I always think it's particularly telling that she was shot in the head — shot in the MIND. Anything to shut down that female brain.)

She survived, famously, and still fights for education for girls. (She spoke last night to us from a video feed — she couldn't come to the conference because she's in SCHOOL — and she dazzled.)

This girl is extraordinary; this father is extraordinary.

He finished his speech by saying that people always ask him what he did to make Malala into such a strong warrior. He says it's not what he did; it's what he DIDN'T do: "I didn't clip her wings."

I was so honored and emotional to be there last night to hear this, and wanted to share it with you all.

Unlearn your obedience, women.

Teach your girls to unlearn their obedience.

And let a star shine in the crown of this father, and all parents, who guide their daughters to grow strong.

Onward,
LG

This is the video Gilbert was referring to: Ziauddin Yousafzai: My Daughter, Malala.

4 comments:

Anonymous 4:08 AM  

All your articles are excellent. Well thought out, rational and effective.
Bless you for fighting for women's rights.

Walter Sieruk 11:45 AM  

That Taibban gunman who shot the helpless youn girl with murderous intent had proven himself a coward for going after her. That Taliban member didn't go after are armed man or even an unarmed but strong man but a young girl who was unarmed and just seeking after an education for herself and other girls. Likewise,that the other Talban actually liked the heinous and cowardly act their member who commited that vicious act against her only exposed their malicious and evil mindset. Moreover, the Taliban have thus shown,by their actions, that they must be very much scared of the education of girls and women. For they must fear that if a female becomes educated then she just might start to look into different worldviews and then she might actually start to think for herself. This the Taliban with all their misogyny would detest. To put it another way, Thomas Jefferson did have a good point when he stated "Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppression of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."

J P Sundharam 3:24 AM  

What in essence Ziauddin Yousafzai is saying is that he had to break every tenet of Islam (about women) in bringing up Malala.

Wonder why he continues to remain a Muslim after seeking Islam up close and personal!

Citizen Warrior 12:48 PM  

That is a question, JP Sundharam, that confounds all of us. How can an educated Muslim embrace Islam?

One possible answer is that in an Islamic culture it is out of the question to reject the religion. It is so dangerous, it cannot be considered. So what would be left to do? Find a way to think about Islam that makes it not so bad.

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