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Malala Yousafzai vigil.Foreign Policy, David Rothkopf, “An Army of One”

BBC News Magazine, “Malala Yousafzai: Portrait of the Girl Blogger”

The Christian Science Monitor, Adil Jawad and Sebastian Abbot, “The Malala Moment: Tens of Thousands Rally In Pakistan for Girl Shot by Taliban”

Radio Free Europe, Ron Synovitz, “The Pakistani Taliban’s Rationale for Shooting A Schoolgirl”

A 15-year-old girl by the name of Malala Yousafzai was recently shot in the head during an attempted assassination carried out by members of the Taliban in Pakistan. The offense for which she was targeted? Speaking out to western news outlets – specifically the BBC, for which she wrote a blog as an 11-year-old – about the plight of uneducated girls and women who are prohibited from seeking education in regions of the country controlled by the terrorist organization. If it’s any indication of her prominence in the fight for girls’ rights, she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by Desmond Tutu.

This virulent, horrific, and pathetic action is despicable and reflective of the worst of humanity, but that’s not the reason I wanted to write about it. To focus on the violence itself would do a disservice to Malala’s efforts and the efforts of those who support her and her peers.

The reason I am writing about Malala is because hers is a story worth knowing; a story of the excellence individuals can achieve in spite of daunting ideological and cultural obstacles. To quote her: “All I want is education. And I’m afraid of no one.”

I don’t want to go on about this because the articles listed above do a better job than I could of exploring the various facets and ramifications of her efforts, which even at her young age have had far-reaching, positive effects on the regressive situation imposed on Pakistani women. Thankfully she has been able to receive the best medical care available and it seems she will survive her injuries.

I do want to say that this young girl has stood for something and said “Enough is enough.” Malala and her supporters (her father is also an activist) correctly assert that the only way out of economic and ideological poverty is through education. Her actions are inspiring and refreshing, and I think we could all learn from her heroic example. I recently wrote about Superman and how the character represents a paragon of humanity to which we can all aspire, and from all accounts, Malala’s spirit is reflective of those excellent qualities.

Despite the inevitable dissipation of this event’s ripples, I am ecstatic to be able to count Malala among the living and look forward to her triumphant return to the fight for human decency. There is little doubt that she will go on to achieve great things.

If you would like to take some sort of action in support of Malala, I encourage you to add your voice to those coming from Amnesty International on her behalf, or participate in the UN’s special envoy initiative. I also encourage you to check out an organization I’ve featured beforeThe Girl Effect – which aims to promote awareness of and change the dire, unfortunate circumstances of young women like Malala all over the world.

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Save the Arctic, “A Homeless Polar Bear in London”

Save the Arctic

World Wildlife Fund

Defender of Wildlife

It’s one of the great shames we, as humans, have perpetrated in our time on this earth: in our tunnel-vision preoccupation with our own survival, we’ve invaded and destroyed the natural environments of our fellow animal astronauts. There are many realities that make me sad on a daily basis, but few get to me the way the plight of animals like the polar bear do. Here are creatures that live in harmony with the planet and their peers, according to a natural balance, and we bring them to ruin by accelerating the decline of their habitat, because we desire more of things we don’t really need. Is there anything more despicable?

And the most frustrating part is my willing, characteristically human hypocritical involvement in this crime. Well, I’m trying to help combat the unfortunate state of affairs here and now.

Please take a moment to check out the links above. They are all extremely informative and inspiring with regards to the state of our relationship with animals like the polar bear. I know this kind of promotion seems corny and disingenuine to many, but understanding and being aware of this situation is a responsibility we all have as denizens of this planet. I encourage you to donate to or take action on behalf of the organizations.

Everything is connected. Though animals’ plight may seem distant and disconnected from your life right now, consider that the horrible negative circumstances we impose and they suffer may one day expand to influence the lives of your children, their children, and so on.

The Girl Effect, “The Clock Is Ticking”

Please take a moment to watch this video. I warn you, it is a tear-jerker (in a sad-yet-inspiring kind of way), but well worth your time.

I have seen many activist or artistic clips online which use simple text-based designs to get their point across, but none of them have been as poignant and heart-rending as this one. Combining a straight-forward narrative, easily-understood graphics, touching music, and a universally-appreciated message, this video focuses on the plight of millions of young girls around the world who live in poverty. The video was produced by the aid organization The Girl Effect, which is devoted to the empowerment of all people around the world, but especially disenfranchised young girls and adult women.

I understand that it may be overly optimistic – and some may say “cheap” – to look at a problem like global poverty or civil rights abuses and think that a stupid video can make any difference. But part of my mission in creating this blog is to bring forward perspectives on the world with which people in general may not be familiar. I don’t mean to sermonize or preach when I post content like this, but I do share it with the intention of hopefully inspiring some of my readers to expand their vision or take action.

I am by no means a paragon of humanitarian effort (the best I can muster is a monetary donation every now and then), but as I grow older and more secure in my life, I hope to be able to take up the call to serious service of my fellow man. I encourage everyone to get involved, and even if that involvement is simply to pass the video along to others who may appreciate it, that is definitely something. The only way to start to find solutions to problems like this is to at least start a conversation.

Comics Alliance, Laura Hudson, “27-Year-Old ‘Doctor Who’ Fan with Terminal Brain Cancer Seeks TARDIS Urn for His Ashes”

UPDATE (April 7th): Regretsy, the site to originally feature the request for the TARDIS urn, posted a follow-up about the results of the search and community outreach. It is incredibly heart-warming. Please check it out here to learn more: Regretsy, Helen Killer, “YOU ARE AWESOME.”

No one enjoys considering their impending death, especially no one who is young and in the prime of his or her life. I am not a fan of Dr. Who, but as an enormous fan of most everything science fiction and living to a ripe-old-age with my significant other, this story really touched me. It’s incredibly sad to read something like this, but worth the tears to be reminded of how fleeting – but sweet – life is and how important it is to make the best of every moment with those few people you find worth loving.

For all of my frustrations with my fellow man, the comments section of both the Comics Alliance story and the original Regretsy page are filled with thoughts that prove that sometimes humanity isn’t so bad. I wish it didn’t so often take death to bring us closer together and help each other out, but it’s a start.

Comics Alliance, Andy Khouri, ” R.I.P. Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud (1938-2012)”

Moebius’s Official Site

Quenched Consciousness

One of the most prolific and influential illustrators to have ever worked in comics and popular culture has died. I wasn’t familiar with his work until a few years ago, but Moebius’s images have come to mean a great deal to me, invaluable for their imagination and vision. The Comics Alliance article sums up his legacy far better than I can manage, so I strongly recommend reading through it – the final half of it is punctuated with a sequence of art that perfectly exemplifies exactly why he was such an effective visual storyteller. I’ve also included a link to Moebius’s official site, as well as to a fan’s site created with the intention of collecting Moebius’s art.

In addition to his work in graphic novels, Moebius’s creative endeavors inspired the look and feel of many of my most beloved science fiction films, including Blade Runner and Alien. Tekkon Kinkreet also springs to mind as a film (and comic) which counts Moebius among its inspirations. There are a great many popular illustrators working in the comics medium whose work I admire, but few whose art frees the mind quite like his. The use of consistent, clean lines establishes a solid sense of reality in his work, while unique -sometimes minimalist, sometimes extravagant – designs and perspectives infuse his creations with vibrancy. The level of detail and energy he includes in his work is at just the right amount, which I think reflects an exemplary artistic philosophy focused on illuminating that which is most important.

Needless to say, Moebius will be missed, but thankfully his legacy will be carried on and amplified by the artists and dreamers, both professional and amateur, he has inspired with his work.

Slate, Heather Murphy, “A Young Photographer Who Refused to Give Up”

Rémi Ochlik’s Website

28-year-old, award-winning war photojournalist Rémi Ochlik (along with reporter Marie Colvin) was killed in Homs, Syria, doing the invaluable job he loved: capturing images of conflict to raise awareness among the world’s public.

As the Slate article linked to above explains, Ochlik was recently honored by World Press Photo for his incredible work in Lybia (you can check it out at his website, also posted above), which captured some of the most significant moments of the uprising and conflict in that country. He has traveled from his home in France throughout the Middle East and around the world, from one conflict zone to another, intent on exposing the photographic truth of every situation.

It brings tears to my eyes imagining the kind of drive and love it must take to pursue such a career. I have the deepest respect for Ochlik, Colvin, and all photojournalists’ work. Regardless of who they may have been in life otherwise, to me their sacrifice deserves the utmost respect. They are the necessary counterweight in any conflict: accountability.

A young man only a couple of years older than me, he obviously cared enough about documenting these dangerous events to put himself in harm’s way. Not that I’m ashamed, but what I’m doing here on this blog feels like nothing more than child’s play by comparison.

In today’s rapid-fire media culture where we’re always on to the next thing before the current thing has a chance at meaning, most don’t often give a thought to the people who put their lives on the line to bring forth evidence of human wrong-doing and suffering. Many images are quickly processed, flicker in your memory, and forgotten before long. Images like those captured by Olchik and his peers are not those. Though the U.S. and its citizens are largely isolated from the rest of the world and its problems due to geographic serendipity, humanity at large needs to be engaged with injustices elsewhere, and that was obviously Ochlik’s mission.

I’m feeling emotional, yes, and it sounds like hyperbole, but it is vital that we appreciate such devoted sources of information for their veracity and significance. For proof of what Ochlik and other journalists’ work means to the people they document, watch this video, embedded in the Slate article, in which protesters in Syria honor those journalists’ sacrifices with a pledge to never forget.