Maxwell Bennett on Malala Yousafzai and School Shootings

Maxwell Lake Bennett, 2020 Luce 24 Under 24 Award Recipient
Patrick Henry College

New York, N.Y. What makes something necessary? When I say necessary, I do not mean that something is merely beneficial, pleasant, or helpful. When we say necessary, we speak regarding a need. Needs are not something that oscillate like most desires do. For example, I am a big fan of Italian food, but if I ate Italian food daily, my desire for it would likely wane. However, my need for consistent nutritional intake, i.e. why I eat Italian food to begin with, never changes. So, what is it about today that makes young global leaders necessary? What need do they fill? They fill the need for examples.

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More than anything, I would say that young leaders are exemplary, and that is why we need them. That seems like a redundant answer, because of course they are exemplary. How or why else would they become young global leaders? When I say they are exemplary, I mean in more than their achievements. When I say exemplary, I mean that they are examples before anything that their achievements could capture. They are examples of worldview, of character, of intellect, and of personality.

People exemplify who they are and how they are formed. What could be achieved by anyone without a work ethic? Where would we be as a society if we had no faith or intellect? We, as people, could not go anywhere or be anything if we had nothing to exemplify.

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Young leaders exemplify, so what need relates to exemplification? We need them to be examples of what people are, warts and all. Relationships are key to the human experience. Relationships are our main pathways for being influenced. Relationships with friends and family, as well as works and passions, establish the initial bounds of our identities. We are so relational, in fact, that we can be influenced by people we have not met.

Malala Yousafzai has shown the world, but more importantly oppressed young women, the value of education. Numerous charities and organizations are working at all levels of society to ensure that young women can get access to education all over the world, especially in the Middle East. While Malala is by no means the only advocate for this educational mission, her role as a young global leader gave her
the platform to exemplify values of great importance.

Leaders must exemplify from a place of maturity. Since young global leaders are exemplifying and leading from that example, they must lead from a place of maturity. Leadership requires responsibility and maturity, so those who lack experience must make up for it on the frontline of maturity.

Maturity appears in many ways and all of them are necessary. Maturity appears in relationships as wisdom, kindness, and empathy. Intellectual maturity comes in the form of problem-solving and a congruency in big-picture and detail-considerate thinking. Intra-personal maturity is found in integrity, healthy self-sufficiency, and profound self-knowledge. Every manifestation of maturity, regardless the size, is an essential part of leadership.

Young global leaders can and do influence for any number of causes, but their positions in matters of grave moral importance inspires action and instills essential values. Malala was an example of values in the Middle East, but there are many other fronts that need attention. In the wake of school shootings within the United States throughout the early 21st century, the victims of the shootings were given platforms.

Head knowledge that shootings occur is one thing, but to see the eyes of children who were closer to death before the age of eighteen than many over sixty is another experience entirely. These children modeled hurt and vulnerability, but also strength and character by standing and advocating for change. Their advocacy revealed gaping holes in the fabric of the U.S. at the societal level. By standing up for something important, they exemplified the values, character, and experiences that gave their words credence.

Young global leaders also need to know how to exemplify failure.

Human failure is a fact of life on this earth. Some failures are monumental, others unnoticeable. Knowing how to fail forward is a key lesson for all people, whether that failure is in one’s career, faith, or
relationships.

It is very easy to see someone fail and look with eyes of disdain instead of compassion. After all, someone that receives accolades and influence should be beyond failure, right? That is a profoundly unfair and unkind position to take. Leaders are people first, so to treat them as if they are higher or lower than anyone else does an injustice to their humanity.

Witnessing a catastrophic failure of individual character or personal ability can shock many under your influence, which is why it is so key for young global leaders to model their reparations and recovery with maturity. The young global leader is an archetype called to exemplify a wise mind and a kind heart.

Whether giving an address to the United Nations or consoling a friend in the quieter confines of personal conversation, all leaders are called to lead from a place of maturity and exemplification. The challenge for a young global leader is to do so at an earlier stage in life. With such ample opportunity for success there is an equally substantive allotment for failure.

However, knowing what it means to succeed and fail well, in public and personal matters, is key for young global leaders. Young global leaders are necessary because they can influence and exemplify, and what sets them apart is their ability to do so with maturity.

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Maxwell Lake Bennett 

Max is a junior at Patrick Henry College in Virginia, where he has placed on both the Dean’s List and the President’s list. He is a member of his college Model United Nations Team as well as his college International Justice Mission team. He is skilled in public speaking, research and writing. Experience includes American Legion Mountaineer Boy’s State and Patrick Henry College Teen Leadership Camps.

About The J. Luce Foundation
The Mission of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation, Inc. (www.LuceFoundation.org) is to support young global leadership impacting positive social change, particularly in the fields of the Arts, Education and Orphan Care. Related charities include Orphans International Worldwide (OIW) and The New York Global Leaders Lions Club, both founded by Jim Luce. 

See:
Luce 24 Under 24 Virtual Awards Ceremony Set For Sept. 24 (9/20)
‘Luce 24 Under 24’ Summer Soirée Set for July 24 at the China Institute (6/19)
J. Luce Foundation Announces First ‘Luce 24 Under 24’ Awards (5/19)
J. Luce Leadership Team Lauded by Forbes, Gates, Ford Foundation (9/18)

The Editors
The Stewardship Report on Connecting Goodness is the communications platform of The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation (www.lucefoundation.org). There are now more than 100 contributors around the world to this publication.

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