She looks so
ordinary that you'd never suspect this middle-aged woman from Vermont is a Nobel Prize in
Peace winner. Jody Williams, an activist against land mines in Cambodia, is friendly
and down-to-earth. As she greeted the forum of teenagers at Rhodes College Peace Jam, a weekend
activity supporting peace and diversity, she listened with genuine interest and concern. After, I
talked with her about everything from her background to
How did you get started as
I went to local rallies when I was younger. Where I'm
from, there were only white people and cows. I spoke to an African-American for the first time when
I was in my twenties. You have to start somewhere
What is the greatest global issue
facing the country now?
The most depressing in my view is the
government's desire to go to war. They are not listening to American citizens or the other members
of the United Nations. Military action could be an alternative, but not the first choice. The United
States only says, "We don't care what you think. " I don't think anyone wants
What about the threat of chemical and
biological weapons? How does that make you feel?
Since World War
I, there have been chemical weapons. We used to have to practice just in case of an attack. We had
drills. It's not a new threat, just a
What solution would you offer for
the conflicts facing America today?
We need to work out a common
solution. The government just seems drunk with power. War is a terrifying thing. The Bush
administration has already openly targeted eight
In your talk, you described America as
the heart of the beast. What exactly do you mean by that?
countries view us as an imperialist nation. Does Bush really want to save America? He wants to make
the rich richer. He's cutting back on education and Medicare. Absolute power corrupts
Since you seem to have an aversion
toward the administration, how do you feel about the controversy surrounding the Pledge of
I pledge allegiance to humanity, not America. The national
mythology is that America is this great country, and I understand the need for the myth
that wonderful pioneers formed this freedom and peace here.
If America as a country of freedom is a myth, then
what is the truth?
The truth is that this country was built on slaves
and the murders of Native Americans. We only accept the good things. I don't accept that myth. We
need to be willing to accept the good and the
You seem so passionate about everything. What
keeps you that way?
Honestly? You just have to give a s**t. I could
never be any different from the way I am.
don't seem like someone who won a Nobel Peace Prize.
I don't know how
to be any different. Sometimes I wake up and feel like I'm proud. But what am I supposed to be, a
pompous fool because I got a medal?
So if the
medal does not prove your dedication, what does? What is it that makes you
What makes you important is who you are and what you do,
not what you have. I would keep doing this because I can't just live without taking
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.