Jody Williams, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work to ban landmines, spoke to Ralph Simon at DLD16 about her work as an activist.
“Activism is storytelling. If you don’t tell the story of activism well, people will not understand that we are all agents of change,” she said.
There can be little doubt that Williams cares about people. That is why she worries when she hears terms like ‘consumers’. “When did we stop being people?” Williams asks. Even demands. And tries to inspire those who hear her.
As Williams stood on stage she became the stage for other people’s stories to be performed upon. She spoke about refugees. About their fear, their bravery in the face of fear, their resilience and resourcefulness.
Demons and Heroes
Prompted by Ralph Simon, she said the attacks that happened in Cologne on New Years eve should not lead to more fear or dismissal. If refugees perpetrated crimes that night they should be tried and sent to prison. But that doesn’t mean all refugees are rapists or wife-beaters, just like not all Germans are rapists, although 20 rapes are reported in Germany per day.
“We have to risk humanizing and stop demonizing,” Williams said. Beyond that – and most importantly, Williams said we need to stop glorifying war. Individuals can act heroic in war; but war is not heroic. War is Syria, where 85 percent of people have no war. War is ugly. And it is disguised in many people’s minds. Which is why Williams urges us “to unmask Achilles”.