Tuesday, October 09, 2007

October 9: Jody Williams (b. 1950)

I have a deaf schizophrenic brother that people were mean to when I was young. I couldn't understand why people would be mean to him because he was deaf. That translated into wanting to stop bullies being mean to...people, just because they are weak.

--Jody Williams
American teacher and 1997 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Jody Williams, founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, on what started her into global justice work. In a 2001 speech, she elaborated:
I'll tell you why I care. My brother was born deaf, he cannot hear a sound. My brother cannot speak. In adolescence he developed severe violent schizophrenia. He is 54 years old. My family has lived with severe disability my entire life. I have no doubt about the impact of disability on a family and a community.

I live in the United States of America where there is some possibility to help the disabled. But let me tell you there's still a lot of gaps here, too. And when I think about that reality, and I think about the people here from the poorest countries in the world trying to live with disability, trying to provide for their families when they can barely manage on a daily basis, I care very deeply and very profoundly. I feel it in my bones because of my own experience.

Williams turns 57 today. "When we began, we were just three people sitting in a room. It was utopia. None of us thought we would ever ban land mines. I never thought it would happen in just six years," she told the Boston Globe.

9 comments:

marisa said...

I'd really like to know if her brother similarly feels he's a tragic case because he does not hear or speak. Weak? I don't deny that kids always find reasons to bully certain kids, but this does not necessarily make her adult brother miserable nor weak.

As for schizophrenia, I could see how that may be more of a struggle for him, if it is indeed "violent" - though I'm not sure what she meant by that.

Anyone have info about (or from!) her brother about his on self concept or self-identification?

Penny L. Richards said...

Yeah, I was uncomfortable with her using her brother's "weakness" as a credential too. Williams is, in general, a blunt speaker, so I wouldn't expect too much reticence on this topic from her--but I do wonder how her brother feels about being featured in her tale.

On the other hand, I'm thinking her story is a good anecdotal counter to the "isn't it unfair to the siblings" handwringing that swirls around raising a disabled child. What about the siblings? Well Jody Williams didn't turn out too bad, eh?

Ruth said...

The language that struck me in her quote was about the impact of disability on ....the community. I'm also aware of the negative language that Marisa pointed out, however her journey from taking her own experiences to encouraging others to recognize disability issues around them as a community is a story that I'd like to see told a LOT. Thanks, Penny.

Bob Shipman said...

That article touched my soul....

Bob Shipman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Shipman said...

rmship@gmail.com

Bob Shipman said...

The truth of the matter, I have a passion for my work and absolutely enjoy the organization ISCV.org that employs me.

Developing the community service jobs and helping the folks remove barriers to employment, is more pay than I deserve.

However people that have disabilities ask me over and over can a working person apply and not reeive cash just the designation??

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