Chuck Norris
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If only every 16-year-old had the courage and grit of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban last year for advocating girls' and women's education.

Last Friday, she spoke to the United Nations and said education could change the world, Reuters reported.

I would add that it is an absolutely essential ingredient to establish and maintain any free people and society.

Thomas Jefferson put it this way: "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."

Pakistan is not alone in dealing with extremists' assault on education. Tragically, on July 6, Islamists shot and killed 42 people -- including 29 students and one teacher -- at a boarding school in northeastern Nigeria. It was one of three such school shootings since May, when the military began its crackdown on the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, whose nickname translates as "Western education is sinful" in Hausa.

Malala explained to the U.N.: "They shot my friends, too. They thought that the bullets would silence us. But they failed, and out of that silence came thousands of voices."

She added: "The terrorists thought that they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born."

Aren't those some riveting truths and, even more, a rallying cry to continue to fight tyranny over the human mind and spirit? When courageous souls are willing to confront strongholds, they can overcome any adversity and change any culture.

And here's where Malala's mission and mercy ramp up: "I'm not against anyone. Neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group. I'm here to speak up for the right of education of every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all terrorists and extremists. I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hand and he stands in front of me, I would not shoot him."

Let's remember that she's not fighting a war on terror from without. Her mission is for education, freedom and reform from within. And that's the most potent type of warfare and transformation for individuals and society.

Reuters noted that Pakistan has 5 million kids who don't attend school. Only Nigeria outnumbers it, with nearly double that number not attending school, according to the U.N's cultural agency, UNESCO.

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Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris is a columnist and impossible to kill.