"The Nobel Peace Award is not given for what one has done but hopefully for what one will do."
This are the opening words on the blog page of the World Centers of Compassion for Children International website, a non-profit organization founded by Betty Williams, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976, while at the age of 33. "When I received the news of the Nobel Peace Award I could not believe it. I told my father 'I think they have the wrong name Dad, please can you talk to this man on the phone, I'm busy cooking!'" Today she is absolutely thrilled about President Obama's Nobel Peace Award: "This is magnificent news. I really think that this man was sent to us by God. His speeches and strategy for a global dialog are the right things to do; there will not be Peace unless one sits at the table with his enemy and starts to deal with him to create harmony. In my country at that time, we conquer the trust of the women "simply" creating strength and hope in themselves. Of course it was not easy but when you can substitute a gun with a toy or with a job opportunity, you cannot fail."
When I ask her what she thinks about the critics on the Peace award given to Obama, Betty is straight: "I'm extremely happy as the Nobel Committee gave a wise sign of trust and hope to a whole country. This man is a man of our time: a man of exceptional intellect, sound common sense and a deep spiritual force which is almost palpable. This, I believe, is what reached not just the American people, but people worldwide. I consider President Obama's work until now as a testimony of what a single person can do. He has changed completely the paradigm of his predecessor, Bush, telling the whole world that America is ready for global cooperation. He has shown the world that change can be done. This prize will help him to get even more authority in the enormous challenge that he has to face to help the Peace process around the globe."
In the 30 years since the award, Mrs. Williams has devoted her life to creating a new way forward, a movement to begin a reversal of thinking on how we deal with the injustices, cruelty and horror perpetrated on the world's children. "Thirty years in the field has convinced me of one thing, the obvious fact that there are no answers from the top down. Governments do not have the answers -- indeed, quite the reversal. A lot of times they not only do not have the answers, but they themselves are the problem. If we are committed to helping our world's children, then we must begin to create solutions from the bottom up."
Mrs. Williams has traveled the globe recording the testimonies of children subjected to horrors beyond belief. It became evident to her that legislation to protect children must be implemented to persuade governments to listen to the voices of their children and acknowledge their basic rights. It also became evident that centers of compassion and peace must be created, where at-risk children are treated with the dignity, respect and love they deserve. And World Centers of Compassion for Children is, in fact, realizing the first City of Peace for the Children in Basilicata, Italy.
"I can assure you I'm quite sane and have proof that dialog works. All you have to do is look at recent history in Ireland. Men, once enemies, are now jointly governing in Northern Ireland. And although there have been several hitches, by and large it's working well. Reason! They communicate. Dialog saves lives. We in Ireland rejoice and yet we know how hard the road ahead is for this fine man. May the American people see this gift of change and work to help President Obama rebuild a nation once loved and now destroyed by the lies of the past. I think the words of George Orwell describe the courage of Barack Obama: 'Telling the truth in times of deceit is a revolutionary act.' President Obama certainly did that. So, come on President Obama, Middle East, come on Muslim and Jew and Taliban, for the sake of your children: TALK!"