“But then I said, ‘If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.”
― Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
Malala Yousafzai is one of my greatest role models in life. She’s a young woman from Pakistan who defied the Taliban and was shot for it. Even after this tragic incident, she continued to fight for women’s education and to this day, remains one of the most remarkable people in the world. She chose not to fight with weapons, but instead with her words. As Malala stated in her memoir, I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, “You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.”
At only 16 years old when she published the book, she was wise and brave beyond her years. Malala’s choice to challenge the Taliban and expose her daily struggles in Pakistan was daring and almost caused her death. Her strength and perseverance motivate me to be like her; somebody who was truthful, fair, kind, and strong. I will probably not make the impact she has made, but by using the Four-Way test, a moral code that can be applied to most aspects of life can take me one step closer.
The first question of the Four-Way Test is about the truth. I have been asked about this an innumerable of times before by my friends, parents, teachers, and even myself at some points. I won’t deny it, sometimes I’m not totally honest. I thought my actions wouldn’t impact the world, but now I think and know differently. The truth is not to be feared, but instead to be something we can grow and learn from. I doubt when Malala was 11 years old she thought that her one anonymous blog post would transform the world.
Everybody around her was too scared to speak the truth about the Taliban, but Malala spoke out and changed countless lives. Even at only my age, she was writing about the ugly part of the world that was her home. The truth is rarely pure and subject to corruption, and Malala opened our eyes to how hard it was for a girl to receive an education in Pakistan. The truth reflects a person’s true integrity and honor, and I believe that Malala has the utmost of this. She was being honest to herself and others and didn’t hide into a shell of denial claiming everything was fine. That takes true bravery and character, and I think her choice was very admirable.
The next inquiry we must ask ourselves is the question “Is it Fair to all concerned?” Life isn’t fair, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take steps to make it fairer. When you search up the definition of fair, it says, “in accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate.” However, I don’t think this is a very good definition. You could be following wrong, unjust rules, which could technically be counted as “fair”. In my opinion, fair isn’t about being equal, but about everybody concerned getting the tools they need to succeed. If one of my friends gets a better grade than me, we aren’t equal, but that doesn’t mean the test wasn’t fair. This part of the test really evaluates the moral ethics of your thoughts and actions and whether it will help others, or negatively impact them instead. Malala’s choice to speak for education available to all was both fair and admirable. She advocated for society as a whole, and not just for herself. Her fight for equal education rights was fair and gave all she affected what they needed to succeed.
The third question in the Four-Way Test is, “Will it build goodwill and better friendships?” This question goes hand in hand with the first standard. Sometimes, telling the truth harms friendships and makes people feel bad. There are always ways to tell others things more gently. Following this policy helps build a calm and positive spirit, community, nation, and world. These things bring me happiness and help lead a better life with greater friendships and a better life for those who surround me.
The last policy is, “Will it be beneficial to all concerned?” This seems similar to the second question, which was, “Is it fair to all concerned?”, but that question was making sure nobody was harmed from your decisions, whereas this one guarantees others will get something out of it. This may seem like a tall order because most things we say or think don’t seem to provide any new life lessons. However, much can be benefited from the smallest gestures. When you make a joke or smile at somebody, you make them feel happier and more content. Everybody should be able to learn and get something out of your actions and words. New perspectives, smiles, and positive feelings are all things that can be profited from our behavior and ideas.
I think everybody uses the guidelines of the Four-Way Test at least some point in their life, but rarely anybody does constantly. If we all lived by these standards, the world would be a better place with less hurt relationships, more positivity, and better communities overall. Change has to start somewhere, and Malala Yousavfzvai has already made this world a better place. She might not have been exactly following the questions of the Four-Way Test, but I believe Malala followed similar policies and because of that, improved the world. Her choice to fight for education for all was in itself, admirable, but what really makes her a hero for me is how she fought not with violence, but with her words and education. With the Four-Way Test and Malala’s wisdom to help guide me, I believe that I can also make a difference in this world.