Friday, November 23, 2012

Creative Month of November: Blog 4- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Dear Ellie,

With the season of Thanksgiving upon us, I think it’s important to always reflect and be appreciative (particularly since we are so blessed to spend Thanksgiving with family in Disney but in our excitement and haste among the parks, I think sometimes old traditions are forgotten).  It is here that I want to share a story of a young girl who captured not only my heart but those around the world recently.  She is a 14 year old Pakistani girl who wanted to go to school.  Sadly, her village was still among those in control of the Taliban (a militant group adamantly opposed to western culture, women’s rights, and everything in between).  They are the antithesis of democracy.  Because of this girl’s blog (in which she stated her opinion about females and education), she was gunned down by the Taliban on October 9 of this year.  Her name is Malala Yousufzai and she is healing currently in the United Kingdom (because the Taliban warned that they will come again for her if she survives).  My heart breaks that her home has become her enemy but I love that the world has adopted her cause.  This is where my story of thanks begins.

First of all, I am thankful that Malala is alive as her survival amidst that ambush is miraculous.  Secondly, I am grateful that she is stoic and strong.  She has become a beacon for basic human rights.  But more than that Ellie (as selfishly as It may sound), I am so appreciate that you have a role model beyond our television screen, music industry, and social media outlets.  Malala’s purpose is far greater than herself and her image.  And she’s only 14… courage defies age and is limitless.  Kids can do great things- they can be shakers and movers too.  Like Malala, I want you to stand up and be a voice for those who can’t or won’t talk.  I want you to stand up for not only yourself but for those weaker than you (and Ellie if your 2 year old self is any indication of how you will be at 14, you will be the lion not the zebra).  It’s ok to question, to formulate well reasoned and educated decisions, and to go deeper than our pop culture addresses.  At two and half, your favorite show to watch on television isn’t a cartoon, it’s the adult musical movie Hairspray.  I’m sure the singing and dancing make it entertaining for you but I wonder if this foreshadows your years ahead as the show confronts societal issues like the Civil Rights movement and weight barriers (I know this seems silly but the fact that you choose this over Elmo, Barney, Mickey Mouse, and countless others shows me that you are different from your peers). 

This excerpt is taken from Ashley Fantz (CNN)’s article called Pakistan’s Malala: Global Symbol but Still Just a Kid from 10/15/2012
She (Malala) rarely showed fear, and she didn't hide her face
"I have the right of education," she said in a 2011 interview with CNN. "I have the right to play. I have the right to sing. I have the right to talk. I have the right to go to market. I have the right to speak up."
Why do you risk your life to raise your voice? a reporter asked her.
In perfect English, she answered that her people need her.
"I shall raise my voice," she insisted.
"If I didn't do it, who would?" she said.
Girls who are scared should fight their fear, she said.
"Don't sit in your bedrooms”

Ellie, I am beyond thankful that you can sleep safely at night and that I know here in America (and with us as your parents), you will be educated to your full potential.  And although we don’t live in a perfect place, I hope that you are always treated equally with regards to gender.  While we are so far ahead of many other countries, we still have our own issues with sex and race particularly).  But maybe that’s for your generation to confront and make peace with.

And so Ellie, as we are enjoying our family vacation, I want you to remember to give thanks.  This isn’t a letter to make you feel guilty about what we have but rather be grateful about the circumstances in which we have it.  But secondly, remember your voice- it’s God’s gift to you to be heard so use it with care, strength, power, and love (like Malala).  You have the right to live, to be happy, to rise to your potential (without harming others in the process… remember Spiderman’s adage here- “With great power, comes great responsibility”), and to change the world as you see fit (particularly if you see a miscarriage of justice).

Ellie, be a catalyst for a transformation if you see deem It necessary (and be ever-thankful that you live in a society that may not necessarily embrace it but will enable you speak your mind and explore paths not taken).

It would only be fitting to leave you with a Walt Disney quote on the subject, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

I love you and I so appreciate that we have this week as a family in Disney World!  Happy Thanksgiving!


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