July 18, 2013

Alan Caron: With simple, compelling questions, girls confront status quo

Malala Yousatzai speaks for universal education; Samantha Smith reached out to the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

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Samantha spent two weeks there in the summer of 1983, garnering worldwide affection with her endearing personality and optimism. While raising new questions about the arms race and the Cold War, she became an international symbol of the power of a simple, earnest question.

After her tragic death in a plane crash in Auburn in 1985, she was praised by both Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan, as well as by thousands of others around the globe who were moved by her example.

I only wish that she, like Malala, had lived to become 16, and to continue to spread her positive energy everywhere. What wonderful things she would surely have done.

These stories remind us of the power of a single voice in confronting the real enemies of freedom: ignorance, intolerance, hatred and violence.

Many of us spend a lot of time, in our lives, focusing on the things we want but don't have, on the failings of others or the absence of inspiring leaders. But when our eyes and hearts are open, we find heroes, saints and angels everywhere around us. They are constantly urging us forward, inspiring us by example, and lighting the way for others to follow.

Alan Caron is president of Envision Maine, a nonprofit organization that promotes Maine's next economy, and a partner at the Caron & Egan Consulting Group. He can be contacted at:



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