Category Archives: Sweetness and Light

The Twelve Days of Lovemas: Ziauddin Yousafzai

by kj

Malala-father

A lot has been written about Malala Yousafzi, the remarkable Pakastani teenager who was the subject of a 2009 New York Times documentary and was shot in the head by Taliban fighters on October 9, 2012, for her criticism of the Taliban’s ban on girls’ education. Not a lot has been written about her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai.

Ziauddin is not a saint. There are no saints in this world–just notable fighters and peace-makers. As an advocate for girls in Taliban territory, he is both.  I have not been able to find anything that explains the genesis of Ziauddin’s interest in the education of females–perhaps because journalists have not found the story to be of interest. Looking at the timeline of his life, one can see that he opened a private girls school in the Swat Valley, about 100 miles from Islamabad, shortly before the birth of Malala. Ziauddin states that when he saw his newborn daughter, he looked into her eyes and knew she was very very special. And indeed she is, no doubt in large part because of the dedication of her father to the development of her mind.

Some might argue that Ziauddin is a pushy father–at least by our standards.  But our standards–including the idea that individuals should be able to choose their own career path–take a great deal for granted.  When his daughter declared that she wanted to become a doctor, Ziauddin countered that she must grow up to be a politician. The reason, he said, is that Pakistan needs politicians who will make it possible for all girls to become doctors.

Ziauddin has paid dearly for his and his daughter’s advocacy. Malala was nearly murdered and remains in a Birmingham hospital where she is fighting infection and receiving rehabilitation.  He and the rest of his family have received death threats. But he insists he will not give up. “The Taliban cannot stop all independent voices through the force of bullets,” he says.

Ziauddin now has a powerful ally in his mission to educate girls: UNESCO and former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who is the U.N. Special envoy for Global Education. Brown says that the United Nations is more determined than ever that every child (including 32 million primary-school-aged girls who have no access to schools) will be enrolled in school by 2015. Brown also indicated that Ziauddin–who has grass-roots expertise–will be named a U.N. special advisor for global education to help accomplish the goal.

So my wonderful readers, enjoy Southpaw’s delicious Hatemas posts.  Then top them with a small dollop of hope. Hate and love. Fighters and peacemakers. This Christmas we celebrate both.

The Twelve Days of Lovemas

by kj

It’s important to hate injustice, hypocrisy, power-lust, and all the other malfunctions that grind the human soul. Make no mistake, the Hatemas celebrities turn the crank on the meat grinder, the process through which we are broken down and extruded in malleable, homogenized clumps–made ready for digestion and disposal. But there are in our midst, prophets who do not grind easily, and to the consternation of the powerful, are indigestible.

I do not hold religious beliefs about Jesus. But I love his radically non-conformist mind and I know he was authentic because he was murdered. The same holds true for Ghandi…and for Martin Luther King. The Christians did a terrible, thing with the Jesus I admire. They built a church in which men wield power by creating a terrifying orthodoxy about a “savior.” And in a fearfully ironic twist, Jesus, who was heroic in his non-conformity, was smelted and recast as a blade…and for nearly two thousand years has been used by the crank turners to tenderize the docile and obliterate the defiant.

If Christmas were true to Jesus–to Jesus the murdered subversive–what would it be like? The one thing I know is that it would be counter-cultural…which means Christmas would of necessity be at war with itself.  Another thing I suspect is that it would be a celebration of love–love at its most subversive–which means that it would be a oriented towards a dangerous, defiant, liberating idea. It would not have be a Toys for Tots feel to it, as fine as that feel may be. No, I have an inkling it would have more of a flavor of how can we radically challenge the way we think in order to be true to the best of what we imagine we were meant to be. 

So, for the Twelve Days of Lovemas, I propose fleshing out this inkling–or perhaps even smashing it. Any ideas among our blessedly subversive readers?