Jody Williams on the achievements of ordinary people

Jody Williams

Jody Williams is the founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997.

In her article When Ordinary People Achieve Extraordinary Things, Williams says, “For me, the difference between an ‘ordinary’ and an ‘extraordinary’ person is not the title that person might have, but what they do to make the world a better place for us all…

“When I was approached with the idea of trying to create a landmine campaign, we were just three people in a small office… The campaign is not just about landmines — it’s about the power of individuals to work with governments in a different way.”

Daring to speak out

She notes seeking “different solutions to our common problems” can be challenging:

“I believe that these days, daring to voice your opinion, daring to find out information from a variety of sources, can be an act of courage. I know that holding such beliefs and speaking them publicly is not always easy or comfortable or popular, particularly in the post-9/11 world.”

When nobody else is looking

But she has been willing to stand up for her passions, and says she believes that “life isn’t a popularity contest.

“I really don’t care what people say about me — and believe me, they’ve said plenty. For me, it’s about trying to do the right thing even when nobody else is looking… The only thing that changes this world is taking action.”

Her essay is from the book This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women.

(Photo is from the Facebook page Nobel Women’s Initiative.)