Monday, July 16, 2007

International Peace Conference

Well, I had quite a week. Jon's sister is the Executive Director of Nobel Women's Initiative, a collective of all the living female Nobel Peace Prize winners.

Of the 100 winners, only 12 have been women. Of those 12, 7 are still living and one is under house arrest in Burma. This week, three of the 7 came to Dallas to speak of peace. I was lucky to not only meet all three but get to spend considerable amounts of time with them one on one. It was an experience I won't ever forget.

There were many things that were interesting about meeting three of the most accomplished women in the world. First, what made me most excited was how down to earth each of them was. I know that everyone says that that they are just "human like the rest of us". But I have to admit, I was extremely nervous meeting them. I mean, what would I have to say? Let's see. Anyone read People this week? No? Well, I'm out.

These women were so funny and so amazing. One of my favorite conversations that I had with Jody Williams was which of the chores in the house we both liked/disliked. Now, that's a subject I have lots of knowledge on!

The unfortunate part of the conference occured early on. Betty Williams won for her work in Northern Ireland back in '76. She gave a great and very emotional speech about how much work she was doing to help refugee children. She has this amazing plan to create a City of Peace for refugee children. Not a pie in the sky city but an actual one. They have already had the land donated to them by the Italian government.

Anyway, during the Q&A portion, Betty was asked how it would be that Americans can get back in the good graces of the world. She said, "Impeach Bush". Everyone applauded. Then she made the comment, "man, he is so bad, I could kill that guy." Of course, the next day, front section, page 2 of the Dallas Morning News, "Nobel Peace Laureate wants to Kill the President". ugh. No mention at all of her Peace City or anything else. Day 2, it was on the front page of the paper. I was so angry. I mean, yes, she should have known better being in such a conservative town like Dallas and saying things like that where the media was present. It was just so frustrating. Never mind the irony in the title of the article.

Overall, it was a great conference. During Jody's speech, she made a call to action to stop talking about things and do something. It really made me think about what I can do here locally. While I am unable to run for anything, maybe I can support someone who is. I'll write my congressman more. He really needs some work. I'll fight Fidelity more to have them remove their money from the Chinese government who is supporting the crisis in Darfur.

It is so important, as a parent, to show your children that it is OK to get involved. While I'm often not sure of the example we set for our kids in other ways, Jon and I always take our children to vote. My daughter is 9 months old and has voted with me three times.

So, my thought today, whatever your politics, what are you doing? Whatever you talk about doing, don't be afraid, just do it. Think about where women would be if those brave ladies did not fight for our right to vote. To quote Yoda, "Do or do not, there is no try."


January said...

Very cool post, and an even cooler experience.

You're right, as U.S. citizens we really don't do anything locally or globally. I've been thinking about this topic a lot and will probably start volunteering at my local community center again. It's not on the level of the laureates, but it's something.

Alex said...

What a wonderful thing to experience Kristi. We need more people in the world like these amazing women.

Anne McCrady said...

Having been at the peace conference in Dallas myself (I was a featured poet), I must say it was an empowering few days. I too was disappointed in Betty's comment about Bush, although hearing her story and all those of victims of violence explains, if not excuses, her feelings. I am struck by the fact that among the conference speakers were several other female Nobel Laureates, many international leaders and dozens of innovative social entrepreneurs -- each one having accomplished great strides in non-violent progress around the world-- not to mention the hundreds of us delegates who are working in our own personal spheres for creative, collaborative solutions to conflict. Sadly, the press did not choose to quote those amazing speeches and stories -- only Betty's slip of the tongue. So, once again, even from our inspirational conference, violence is the message the people heard. Our calling, our charge to each other, is to speak and act and serve creatively and compassionately in our daily lives so that the world will see peace in action!

Debra said...

I just heard a speech here by Danny Siegal, founder of ZIV tzedakah fund ( and he told us some inspiring stories of "mitzvah heroes." The one that stays with me is "The Chicken Lady" who is 97 years old and every shabbat she buys and cooks chickens for families that cannot afford to have a solid Shabbat meal. Your story of the women inspired me in the same way-- I have to figure out how to volunteer my time in Israel for social justice. I'm glad I found my way to your blog today!
cousin deb