How Malala inspired me today

Malala YousafzaiHow Malala inspired me today

Waking up in the morning is not always when we have our best thoughts…”ughhh I hate Mondays,” or “I have such a long day ahead, maybe just 30 more minutes won’t hurt me,” or “I hate mornings.” However, I am sometimes surprised at just how much I can get done in the wee hours of the day. I’m not talking about physical chores, rather I am referring to thought production. My brain is a fresh entity in the morning, and it seems to thrive with a cup of coffee and a warm shower.

This morning I heard the story linked here of Malala Yousafzai pushing for more schools in the Syrian refugee camps that have formed in Jordan. Listen to the story, yourself. It is quite short, but it packs enough in to change your life.

In fact, I think that is precisely what happened to me this morning around 7:25 AM.

As I listened to the journalist talk to Malala about her desire to bring attention to the children in the refugee camps, I could not help but think about the paradox of my own education. I study refugees. Families, development, identity, health, well-being. These are all aspects of refugee life in which I am interested and wish to know more. Malala encourages President Obama to take a trip to the camps himself, so that then he will “feel” what he needs to do…not just know, understand or hear it.

Ironic – Malala simply hopes innocent Syrian children can find basic education in their respective overcrowded refugee camps, as I am pursuing a PhD in the U.S. to study the needs of refugees…

Furthermore, I began to relate this story to the big picture of my own life, and the lives of those I care about. Syrian refugees (and most other refugees as well) were forced from their homes, leaving behind friends, family and their entire lives. They enter camps filled with strangers, new neighbors and a new way of life, though they have shared the same terror in Syria. As a researcher, I will never understand what refugees have experienced, but I do want to challenge myself and others with difficult questions:

  • Am I willing to leave my own home to serve refugees who have been forced to leave theirs?

The Big Picture

Often, we are encouraged to consider the “big picture” in life…how will our decisions and paths lead to what we ultimately want out of life? When we lay on our death beds, how will we reflect upon our lives? I challenge the assumption that this is the way we should consider the “big picture.”

Instead, we must remember that each decision is, in a sense, the big picture. If I want happiness, joy and meaningfulness throughout my lifetime, I must remember that each day is part of my lifetime.

That’s an important point…I’ll try to say it in a different way.

Perhaps focusing on each day is, in fact, the big picture here. At the end of our lives, I want to be so overwhelmed upon reflection of my life because each day was full. Full of passion and love for others. If loving others is not your passion, don’t worry! Love yourself, because you have one life made up of a limited number of units we call days.

Is my reflection of my life supposed to be a one of enjoyment, pleasure, service, sacrifice, or suffering? I cannot answer this question. I do not know, myself, though I often justify decisions this way. Sure, a beach trip would be wonderful because I only have so long on this Earth to enjoy the beach with those I love. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong with this justification. However, I personally struggle with this idea of reflection at the end of my life. I picture myself reflecting on good times, but I want to reflect on difficult times as well – those times when I experienced suffering alongside others – those human-to-human times, when we experience each other at our worst and still manage to survive.

Finally, I would ask you to challenge yourself. What are you doing with each day of your big picture?

Is it worth it?

Continue to challenge yourself on a daily basis. Ask yourself what you are passionate about. The world needs us to find our passion, because there is specific place for it. Just like we have a place for our toothbrush so we can find it later, the world has a place for our passion and our talent, we just have to find it first. Open yourself up to your passion, daily. Allow ideas and thoughts to flow freely, and never put one away in the dark corner of your mind. Harness it, ride it and go places with it.

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