10/17/2012 04:16 pm ET Updated Dec 17, 2012

Love Letter to Malala

I didn't know your name, Malala. You were an unknown Pakistani teenager. Now I know you were wounded grievously by Taliban gunmen. They were opposed to your support of education for girls in Pakistan. You are receiving post-trauma treatment, skull reconstruction and neurological rehabilitation to restore your health.

What did you do, Malala, to incite such fury against you? Your hitherto unknown family name is Yousafzai. Your residence was in Pakistan's Swat Valley. You were shot by gunmen who boarded your school bus. Two of your classmates were also hit. One remains hospitalized in serious condition.

From my understanding of the event, you were cruelly caught up in massive tragedy while witnessing in a simple, wholly understandable way to equal rights, fairness and decency in a frequently indecent world. What in God's name did you really do to unleash such fury? What were your assailants so insanely opposed to? The Taliban publicly took responsibility when they announced to the world that you were wounded for promoting Western culture, secularism and "education for girls."

Whaaat? From my religious perspective you were engaged in old-fashioned religious and spiritual support for human decency, holy hope and worldly justice. If religious and spiritual leaders and followers do not publicly endorse this kind of social action in the face of human savagery, in my view they abdicate any and all credentials to be spokespersons in the name of God.

Looking at your present condition, including your innocence in the face of hideous disservice to authentic human reality, I note that your condition is being assessed by specialists including clinicians from neurosurgery, imaging, trauma and therapies. I hope that you will not only survive, but flourish and live full and beautiful years. Historic circumstance has impinged itself on your life. There have been others who came before you to witness courageously against dehumanization. One that comes to mind immediately is Anne Frank, a brave and sensitive young saint.

Please join me for a moment in questioning the Taliban. Apparently it denies (or says it denies) education for girls. But why would "girls" be denied an education by any informed, educated and decent culture? If "girls" are programmed for zero inferiority and cultural failure by a demonic status quo, what later will happen to women who possess no rights and are locked permanently into failure and prejudice?

Malala, the Taliban attacked your decision to continue your studies and those of your female classmates. I notice buried in the headlines about you is a British spokesperson's recognition of your bravery. He upheld public revulsion and condemnation of the Taliban attack on you in the school bus.

However, for the rest of us -- the world looking on -- this can be only the beginning of our responsibility. Our message is: Women must henceforth live with a freedom utterly denied them in the past. No more injustice in the name of an utterly outmoded status quo. We call for true equality, justice and simple human dignity.

Malala, we will not forget your name.

Malala, we thank you for your incredible courage that shames our old complacency.

Malala, does a Nobel Peace Prize deserve you?