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Step out of the Darkness, and Into the Light

Inspiring, haunting, a perfect read, Malala_Yousafzai.svg
Eatcha, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Inspiring, haunting, a perfect read

Hi, I’m Marcy McKay from Amarillo, author of the award-winning novel, Pennies from Burger Heaven. I’m excited to be a Radio Reader for High Plains Public Radio’s Book Club. The book I chose for In Touch with The World was I Am Malala, by Malala Yousufzai. She’s the girl who stood up for education in Pakistan and was shot by the Taliban in 2012 when she was just 15 years old.

Her story is inspiring, haunting and a great way to begin the New Year. Listening to her story on audiobook is a treat because Malala’s accent is gorgeous.

In Pakistan, the birth of a boy means people bring your money, food and gifts. Guns are fired off in the streets to celebrate. The birth of a girl is treated almost shamefully, but Malala’s father was overjoyed. Together, he and his daughter began a journey to end suppression in their home country.

By the time she was shot in the head on her school van, Malala was already an international figure, both adored and despised back home. She even won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

As much as I enjoyed her story, I also struggled to relate. When I was 15, I was a sophomore at Tascosa High School in Amarillo, Texas. Education was such a guaranteed part of my life that I never questioned it, nor fully appreciated it. My biggest personal battle in 1982 was convincing my father I needed a hardship driver’s license since many of my friends had easily obtained them.

Roy Mason stood at 6’ 3” and weighed almost 300 pounds. He ruled from the wide- armed chair that sat beneath the windows in my parent’s bedroom beside his nightstand and their king size bed. He called that space his “four-by-four,” where he smoked his Camel cigarettes no filters, watched TV, listened to KGNC, all while doling out advice to my friends and me, whether we asked for it or not.

When I sat across from him in his four-by-four and carefully explained why I deserved a hardship, he laughed so hard that he cried.

When he finally regained his composure, he took me by the hands and said, “Marcy, NOTHING about your life is a hardship.”

Of course, that infuriated me, and took years to fully appreciate how right he was. Unlike Malala:

  • I’ve never lived in a single-room house with no water or electricity.
  • I’ve never gone hungry.
  • I’ve never been forced to cover my face and entire body in public because that’s the law.
  • I’ve never walked to school, worried I might be shot or beaten to death because I’m a female without a male chaperone.

Has my life been perfect? Of course not. I’ve faced things that have literally brought me to my knees, but overall, each has been a first-world problem. I’ve been angry for the past several years about politics – like seriously, pissed. Democrats think they’re smarter than everyone else, republicans think they’re better than everyone else, and I’m sick of them all.

However, even stronger than those frustrations, I’m simply tired of feeling resentful. That bitterness has left me angry, exhausted, and distrustful of humanity. No doubt there are selfish, greedy people in this world, but there are even more who are decent and kind.

If Malala was never mad at the person who shot her, then I can change, too.

I cannot control others, but I can control my own attitude. I’m ready to step out of the darkness, and back into the light. I hope the same for you in 2023.

While you’re at it, read I Am Malala. You’ll be glad you did.

This is Marcy McKay, local author from Amarillo and Radio Reader from High Plains Public Radio. For more information, go to HPPR.org.

Spring Read 2023: In Touch with the World 2023 Spring ReadHPPR Radio Readers Book Club
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