(Host) Last week, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Jody Williams spoke at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester. The Poultney native was named Nobel Laureate in 1997 for her work to ban anti-personnel land mines.
To date, 142 countries have signed an international treaty banning the mines. In her speech, Williams said that improving the world is not a matter of wishful thinking, but hard work. She told the students that as Americans, they have a responsibility to get involved because this country’s actions affect people around the world.
Today in “Word for Word,” we have an excerpt from Jody Williams remarks:
(Williams) “I believe that when each and every one of us in the world’s greatest democracy makes a decision not to be involved. Makes a decision not to say what we think. Makes a decision not to vote, what we are doing is abdicating our power to others. We are allowing other people to make the decisions about our life and the course of our country. And I believe that in so doing, we give up the right to complain.
Another laureate who I find very nteresting is Betty Williams from Northern Ireland. Betty received the prize in 1972 for trying to stop the violence, trying to get the two sides fighting in Northern Ireland from taking so many civilian lives in their mindless, male-dominated fighting. Trying to get them to stop. I was listening to Betty at one point in a different conference and she was talking to an audience like this one actually, and saying to them, I’m really tired of watching people or talking to people and have them tell me how upset they get when they watch television and hear about the AIDS epidemic or how horrified they are when they hear about the environment or how upset they are because the government is doing what they want it to do.
And they feel so much more righteous than their neighbor because they actually can articulate the issue and because they listen to NPR and watch C-SPAN, they’re not wasting their mental energy on trashy TV, so aren’t they more sympathetic, aren’t they more politically correct. And Betty’s response is, you know something, all of your emotion without action for change is totally and utterly irrelevant.”
(Host) Nobel Laureate Jody Williams speaking last week at Saint Michael’s College. “Word for Word” is an occasional feature of VPR in which we broadcast extended comments by newsmakers.