The Inside on Bravery

Bravery exists in all corners of the world.  Today Americans are not necessarily considered as brave as other people around the world.  For one, our country is not a battlefield; we do not live every day in constant fear.  Most Americans have access to all of the food and technology that we want.  We also have the daily presence of a democracy and the right to free speech.  But even in the United States, there are discussions and arguments about racism, equal pay, healthcare, war, religion, education, drugs, sexual orientation, and a variety of other topics.  Americans speak out for what they believe in without fear of the government.  And while citizens around the world do not have this luxury, it is essential that they stand up for what they believe is right.

Sixteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head in 2012 for speaking out in favor of women’s education in her homeland of Pakistan.  She was sent to the United Kingdom for treatment, and now continues to advocate for women’s rights.  She was listed in Time’s “100 Most Influential People in the World,” and was the youngest person to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.  She gives many inspirational interviews, including this one with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.

Malala Yousafzai met with President Obama and his family at the White House in 2013.

Malala Yousafzai met with President Obama and his family at the White House in 2013.

Malala is an extreme example of questioning society.  Author and journalist Louis Menand examines a slightly safer subject in his article “Live and Learn: Why We Have College?”  It is a question that some ask, but many have not given a first thought.  The United States obviously thinks greatly of the higher education system—although it may not look that way as budgets are cut—but has anyone ever asked why?  Young adults pay tens of thousands of dollars every year to receive a higher education.  But is it really necessary for success?

Mr. Menand proposes that there are three theories on the purpose of higher education.  Theory one states that college is used as a tool to measure IQ, which then suggests the type and level of job one should receive in later years.  Theory two focuses on learning as much as possible while at college—even information that won’t be used in the future—and applying that knowledge in the real world.  The final theory suggests students should study what they enjoy and follow a career path in that field.

Many believe high school graduates go to college because they want to advance their learning.  They want to experience the responsibility and freedom of living on their own.  But others believe differently; young people attend college because that is simply how society functions.  College is the step after high school.  The New York Times reported that even though only 65.9 percent of high school graduates attend college, it is an unwritten rule of society, with which Mr. Menand agrees.

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai

On the other hand, Malala broke the rules of her society, leading to great things. While girls and women now attend the best colleges and universities in the United States, the Middle East has not advanced to that stage.  Women are expected to stay home, cook, and care for their family.  When Malala protests for women’s education, she breaks the rules and regulations of her society.  She does so in an effort to improve lives and opportunities in her country.

Many people believe that following the rules is the only way society will prosper.  But if people—like Malala—did not question societal roles, then African Americans would be property, women would not be able to vote, and the gay population would not be able to marry.  So while some rules need to be followed, it is imperative for the advancement of the society to question and challenge its rules.

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One comment

  1. deleonli · October 20, 2014

    Rowan, I really enjoyed reading your blog post. I agree with your statement “But others believe differently; young people attend college because that is simply how society functions” because I believe that parents and friends and society overall paints a picture in your mind that makes you think that after high school, college is required in order to succeed and find a job. At my high school, counselors would always ask the question “What college are you going to?” so many students felt pressured that they needed to apply for college regardless of what they planned to do in the future. I think the decision should be left to the student and neither family or society should influence a certain decision. It took a lot of courage for Malala to stand up for women’s education in Pakistan and break the rules of society. If rules are always followed then there will never be change, therefore I sometimes believe rules should be broken for better or worse.

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