Malala Yousafzai Echoes a Civil Rights Legend and Strikes Jon Stewart Speechless

Malala Yousafzai Echoes a Civil Rights Legend and Strikes Jon Stewart Speechless


Malala Yousafzai rendered Jon Stewart almost speechless during her interview on The Daily Show after describing her approach to her Taliban persecutors:

“I used to think that the Talib would come, and he would just kill me. But then I said, ‘If he comes, what would you do, Malala?’ Then I would reply to myself, ‘Malala, just take a shoe and hit him.’ But then I said, ‘If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there will be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and that harshly. You must fight others, but through peace and through dialogue and through education.’ Then I said, ‘I tell him how important education is and that I even want education for your children as well. Now do what you want.'”

It’s a humbling moment. And she’s even more sagacious when reminded that she’s only 16 years old. As her words washed over me, I recalled this advice from civil rights veteran and U.S. Congressman John Lewis:

“You have to be taught the way of peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence. And in the religious sense, in the moral sense, you can say in the bosom of every human being, there is a spark of the divine. So you don’t have a right as a human to abuse that spark of the divine in your fellow human being.

We, from time to time, would discuss if you see someone attacking you, beating you, spitting on you, you have to think of that person, you know, years ago that person was an innocent child, innocent little baby. And so what happened? Something go wrong? Did the environment? Did someone teach that person to hate, to abuse others? So you try to appeal to the goodness of every human being and you don’t give up. You never give up on anyone.”

Ms. Yousafzai reminds us that the brightest ember glows in all of us, if only we take the time to reflect and respond in a manner that best suits our humanity.

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is the cofounder of On Being¬†and currently serves as publisher & editor-in-chief. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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