The Ethical Take – Celebrating Good News

Published: June 29, 2015

By Jim Lichtman
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Malala Yousafzai

The Take was amazed and gratified by three positive events that demonstrated the best we can be.

Forgiveness –

At the bail hearing for the murder suspect in the Charleston Church shooting this past week, a remarkable and noble spirit spoke.

As reported by the Christian Science Monitor (June 20), “ ‘We already forgive him for what he’s done, and there’s nothing but love from our side of the family,’ teenager Chris Singleton told BBC News. Chris’s mother Sharonda Singleton was one of those killed… ‘I just feel a lot of love,’ Chris’s younger sister Camryn said. ‘I’m a little bitter, but I’m overwhelmed with love.’ ”

Nadine Collier echoed the same sentiment about her mother, Ethel Lance, killed in the shooting. “I just wanted everybody to know, I forgive you. You took something very precious away from me. I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you, and have mercy on your soul. … You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. If God forgives you, I forgive you.”

Wanda Simmons: “Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, this is proof, everyone’s plea for your soul, is proof that they lived in love and their legacies will live in love. So hate won’t win. And I just want to thank the court for making sure that hate doesn’t win.”

Anthony Thompson, the grandson of Myra Thompson: “I forgive you, my family forgives you, but we would like you to take this opportunity to repent … confess, give your life to the one who matters the most, Christ, so that He can change it – can change your ways no matter what happens to you, and you will be OK. Do that and you will be better.”

Visiting the beautiful city of Charleston several years ago, I remember being greeted on the street by total strangers who welcomed me, and, if I had a question about directions or a good restaurant, never hesitated in giving me the scoop.

The Ethical Take: Despite tragic loss, family members demonstrated their faith in an act of forgiveness. A lesson for us all!

Change –

After images were revealed of murder suspect Dylann Roof holding a confederate flag in one hand and a gun in the other, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley acted, not only in the best interests of her state, but the nation, last Monday when she called upon the state’s legislature to remove the Confederate battle flag from the State Capitol grounds.

In a public address, Gov. Haley said, in part:

“Our state’s grieving, but we are also coming together. The outpouring of love and support from all corners of people across this state and country has been amazing. Their expression of faith and forgiveness took our breath away. They truly have shown the world what South Carolina looks like at our best…

“That brings me to the subject of the Confederate flag that flies on the State house grounds. For many people in our state, the flag stands for traditions that are noble. Traditions of history, of heritage, and of ancestry.

“The hate filled murderer who massacred our brothers and sisters in Charleston has a sick and twisted view of the flag. In no way does he reflect the people in our state who respect and, in many ways, revere it. Those South Carolinians view the flag as a symbol of respect, integrity, and duty. They also see it as a memorial, a way to honor ancestors who came to the service of their state during time of conflict. That is not hate, nor is it racism.

“At the same time, for many others in South Carolina, the flag is a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past. As a state we can survive, as we have done, while still being home to both of those viewpoints. We do not need to declare a winner and a loser here. We respect freedom of expression, and that for those who wish to show their respect for the flag on their private property, no one will stand in your way.

“But the statehouse is different and the events of this past week call upon us to look at this in a different way. Fifteen years ago, after much contentious debate, South Carolina came together in a bipartisan way to move the flag from atop the Capitol dome. Today, we are here in a moment of unity in our state without ill will, to say it’s time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds.

“We know that bringing down the Confederate flag will not bring back the nine kind souls that were taken from us, nor rid us of the hate and bigotry that drove a monster through the doors of Mother Emmanuel that night. Some divisions are bigger than a flag. The evil we saw last Wednesday comes from a place much deeper, much darker. But we are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer. The fact that people are choosing to use it as a sign of hate is something we cannot stand. The fact that it causes pain to so many is enough to move it from the Capitol grounds. It is, after all, a Capitol that belongs to all of us.”

For decades, South Carolinians’ have had this debate: it’s part of our history, leave it; it’s a symbol of hate from the past, take it down.

Now, the shooting of nine citizens attending a bible study class, has caused many in South Carolina to re-think just what is important and why.

The E.T.: Respectful of both sides, Governor Haley shows the way; people follow. That’s leadership.

Example of Change –

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to sit in the same room and listen to a remarkable young woman – Malala Yousafzai.

Seeing and hearing her in person, is a singular experience of inspiration. I have never witnessed such poise, intelligence, passion, and dedication to her cause of education for girls throughout the world.

By now, most know her story.

Born in the Swat Valley in northern Pakistan in 1957, Malala campaigned from the age of 10 for the rights of all girls to receive an education.

In October 2012, at the age of 15, Malala was shot by the Taliban while travelling home from school on a bus with her friends. Following the attack, she was flown to Birmingham, England to receive treatment and, after a remarkable recovery, returned to school in England.

As a result of her courage and resolute commitment to her cause, Malala has been awarded: The 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience, Glamour’s Woman of the Year, Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the International Children’s Peace Prize, the Tipperary International Peace Award, the Premi Internacional Catalunya, the Simone de Beauviour Prize for Women’s Freedom, and the Reflections of Hope Award.

That’s the extraordinary resume of a 17-year-old!

During the Q&A that followed her talk, Malala revealed some things you may not be aware of: she doesn’t like rollercoasters, dogs, or cats and still fights, from time to time, with her two younger brothers; she credits her father for giving her the courage to speak her mind, and thinks her mother can be “too strict, at times.”

After the shooting, Malala received the world’s support for her cause, and set-up the Malala Fund which is dedicated to help promote education for girls throughout the world.

Her words before the United Nations have become a rallying cry for all who support her cause: “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”

A final question from a student asked, “Do you regret anything you have done with your work for girls education?”

Without hesitation, Malala responded, “No! Nothing.”

The Ethical Take: The spiritual embodiment of Mandela, Dr. King, Gandhi (her heroes), and Mother Teresa, Malala IS the change we wish to see in the world.


  1. The forgiveness of the parishioners of the Charleston church overwhelmed me as I am typing this with tears. Wow, that is true forgiveness. Thank you for passing these stories on. Obviously, Malala is truly authentic and such an old soul. I was born in the south and have seen hatred towards the African American community, and it breaks my heart that it continues to this day. I hope this is a beginning of the end of such a horrible symbol [Confederate battle flag].

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