An unlikely advocate for children worldwide, Betty Williams turned a tragic experience into a message of hope and duty for future generations. Born in 1943 in divided Northern Ireland, Williams was a receptionist and young mother when she witnessed the deaths of three children in a high-speed pursuit of IRA fugitive Danny Lennon in 1976. Lennon was fleeing the police in West Belfast when he was shot, leaving his driverless car swerving violently. Williams, with her own child in her car, witnessed Lennon's vehicle strike a local woman, Anne Maguire, and her two sons and baby daughter. Haunted by the very real result of Northern Ireland's conflict, Williams worked with Maguire's sister Mairead Corrigan to draw up a petition for peace. Within two days, they had over 6,000 signatures, and they and reporter Ciaran McKeown founded the Community for Peace People, a group dedicated to political protest against the war. A week later, the Community united 35,000 people in a protest of the children's deaths and for peace in Northern Ireland. For their dramatic declaration against their nation's pain, Williams and Corrigan received the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize. Since then, she has served on numerous organizations for justice and children's protections, including the Global children's Foundation, the World Centers of Compassion for Children International, the Institute of Asian Democracy, and the Nobel Women's initiative. The Peace People continue to serve the people and especially the children of Northern Ireland.
"We have a simple message to the world from this movement for Peace.
We want to live and love and build a just and peaceful society.
We want for our children, as we want for ourselves, our lives at home, at work, and at play to be lives of joy and Peace.
We recognize that to build such a society demands dedication, hard work, and courage.
We recognize that there are many problems in our society which are a source of conflict and violence.
We recognize that every bullet fired and every exploding bomb make that work more difficult.
We reject the use of the bomb and the bullet and all the techniques of violence.
We dedicate ourselves to working with our neighbours, near and far, day in and day out, to build that peaceful society in which the tragedies we have known are a bad memory and a continuing warning."
-- Declaration of the Peace People
"Compassion is more important than intellect in calling forth the love that the work of peace needs, and intuition can often be a far more powerful searchlight than cold reason."
"We know that this insane and immoral imbalance of priorities cannot be changed overnight: we also know that it will not be changed without the greatest struggle, the incessant struggle to get the human race to stop wasting its vast resources on arms, and start investing in the people who must live out their lives on the planet we share, east and west, north and south. And that struggle must be all the greater because it has to be an unarmed, a nonviolent struggle, and requires more courage and more persistence than the courage to squeeze triggers or press murderous buttons. Men must not only end war, they must begin to have the courage not even to prepare for war."
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