Likens: Trouble abroad brings American problems into perspective
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 17:10
Malala Yousufzai, a 14-year-old girl from Pakistan, has been a widely known advocate for womens’ rights since she began blogging about her struggles in 2009. Insisting on attending school, she and many other girls in the region have been met with acts of violence from the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, a Taliban related terrorist group that opposes the education of women.
Last week, the TTP raided Yousufzai’s school bus in an attempt to take her life. Yousufazi narrowly survived a gunshot to the head and is now being treated in the United Kingdom. Doctors are said to feel optimistic about her recovery.
I don’t remember any of this being a part of growing up when I was 14. Perhaps that’s because I didn’t grow up anywhere near anything having to do with the Taliban, or anyone else who has vicious intent to kill or maim me. In that sense, I was an extremely fortunate child.
Stop and think for a moment. How do you feel about the United States right now? However you answer that question, you can’t possibly say with a straight face that something like that would have happened in America.
The United States is basically an island in the middle of nowhere. Meanwhile, all across the world, hundreds of nations with generations of conflict exist right next door to each other: North Korea and South Korea, China and India, Israel and everyone who isn’t Israel.
As far as hostile environments go, the U.S. only has two bordering countries, neither of whom have ancient vendettas against us − although Canada can often be an annoying neighbor in a Ned Flanders sort of way. To say that we’re not remarkably privileged in terms of security is being a little stingy with your definition of “safe.”
Altogether, there’s only about 25 countries commonly considered to be a part of the first world − and not all of those are automatically ideal places to live, depending on who you are. With less than a quarter of the world population residing in developed nations, Americans are among the few lucky enough to have a substantially higher standard of living than the vast majority of the world, and the relatively unchallenged safety to lounge around and enjoy it.
Don’t get me wrong − one does not need to merely settle for what they have to be appreciative of it. A society must never stop improving, never stop criticizing itself and its leaders, or it faces stagnation. Just because millions of Africans are dying of AIDS doesn’t mean that I should be satisfied with a subpar healthcare system. Just because homosexuals are stoned to death in Iran doesn’t mean that in America they should just settle for a right to live.
We must always pursue a better society but never forget that what we squabble over is merely the fine details of an already marvelous existence. It is near impossible to imagine anything like this incident happening here in the United States − where less than five percent of the world’s population lives and that alone is something none of us should forget.
With everyone so occupied by the upcoming election, such heated arguments may lead one to think that the fate of the universe is being discussed. Ultimately, no matter who wins, America won’t transform into Somalia overnight. There won’t be a civil war, we will still have air conditioned bathrooms and the average citizen won’t have worry about being shot in the head for not conforming to another man’s religious code.
In a time where the American people are so dissatisfied with their government and uncertain about their futures, such knowledge is invaluable.