Malala Yousafzai: The full meaning of recovery

Malala Yousafzai spoke at an award ceremony in New York Wednesday.
Malala Yousafzai spoke at an award ceremony in New York Wednesday.

It’s a beautiful thing when the forces of ignorance and violence are so thoroughly defeated by voices of enlightenment and peace. The miraculous recovery of Malala Yousafzai, an advocate for girls’ education in northwest Pakistan who was shot in the head by the Taliban last year, has provided the world with an inspiring example of right winning over might. Yousafzai not only survived, she thrived. “They thought the bullet would silence us,” she said at a recent speech at the United Nations, on her 16th birthday. “But they failed.” In fact, the shooting backfired. It catapulted this little-known teenage activist onto the world stage, where she delivers her message with remarkable eloquence and passion. She advocates nonviolence, even in the face of militants who almost took her life. She says she forgives her attackers, and understands their fear of progress and social change. The answer, she insists, is education for members of the Taliban and their children. On Friday, she and Junaid Khan, the neurosurgeon who is credited with saving her life, received humanitarian awards from the Harvard Foundation. It is hard to imagine a more deserving pair.