Nobel Prize

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Excerpts from the Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech

Betty Williams on behalf of she and Máiread Corrigan Maguire gave the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech.

To the whole world, we repeat the same message that we proclaimed in August 1976. It is the Declaration of the Peace People:

"We have a simple message for 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, lives at home, at work and at play to be lives of joy and peace.
We recognize that to build such a life demands of all of us 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 makes 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 neighbors, near and far, day in and day out, to building that peaceful society in which the tragedies we have known are a bad memory and a continuing warning."

The voice of women has a special role and a special soul-force in the struggle for a nonviolent world. We do not wish to replace religious sectarianism or ideological division with sexism or any kind of militant feminism. But we do believe that women have a leading role to play in this great struggle.

So we are honored, in the name of all women, that women have been honored especially for their part in leading a nonviolent movement for a just and peaceful society. 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 have to think, and think hard, but if we do not have compassion before we even start thinking, then we are quite likely to start fighting over theories...

Because of the role of women over so many centuries in so many different cultures, they have been excluded from what have been called public affairs; for that very reason they have concentrated much more on things close to home...and they have kept far more in touch with the true realities... the realities of giving birth and love.

The moment has perhaps come in human history when, for very survival, those realities must be given pride of place over the vainglorious adventures that lead to war.

But we do not wish to see a division over this... merely a natural and respectful and lovely cooperation. Women and men together can make this a beautiful, a people's world, and that is why we called ourselves 'THE PEACE PEOPLE.' 

We as Peace People go much further: we believe in taking down the barriers, but we also believe in the most energetic reconciliation among peoples by getting them to know each other, talk each other's languages, understand each other's fears and beliefs, getting to know each other physically, philosophical, and spiritually. It is much harder to kill your near neighbor than the thousands of unknown and hostile aliens at the other end of any missiles, and that is going to take a tremendous amount of sheer hard work.

The only force which can break down those barriers is the force of love, the force of trust, soul-force....

We are deeply, passionately dedicated to the cause of nonviolence, to the force of truth and love, to soul-force. To those who say that we are naive, utopian idealists, we say that we are the only realists, and that those who continue to support militarism in our time are supporting the progress towards total self-destruction of the human race, when the only right and left will be dead to the right and dead to the left, and death and destruction right, left and center, east and west, north and south.

We wish to see those who keep the lights burning twenty-four hours a day in the Pentagon and the Kremlin and all the other great centers of militarism liberated into truly creative and happy lives instead of the soul-destroying tasks of preparing for self-destruction."



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