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Nobel Prize Winner Jody Williams MAG
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 politics.
How did you get started as an activist?
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 with everything.
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 war.
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 heightened one.
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 countries.
In your talk, you described America as the heart of the beast. What exactly do you mean by that?
Many other 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 absolutely.
Since you seem to have an aversion toward the administration, how do you feel about the controversy surrounding the Pledge of Allegiance?
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 bad.
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.
You 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 keep going?
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 any action.