I think there’s a mythology that if you want to change the world, you have to be sainted, like Mother Teresa or Nelson Mandela or Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Ordinary people with lives that go up and down and around in circles can still contribute to change.
Landmines are different from other conventional weapons. When a war is over, the landmines stay in the ground and continue to kill – for decades.
Landmines distinguish themselves because once they have been sown, once the soldier walks away from the weapon, the landmine cannot tell the difference between a soldier or a civilian – a woman, a child, a grandmother going out to collect firewood to make the family meal.
Even soldiers from the Vietnam War had said that when they were fighting in that war, the landmine was just one of any number of weapons to use in the fighting. It wasn’t until they began to think about the aftermath and the legacy of landmines that they recognized the long-term, indiscriminate impact of the weapon.
By the late 1980s, there was the beginning of awareness about a significant global landmine problem, and small steps were being taken to try to deal with the problem.
Since World War II, most of the conflicts in the world have been internal conflicts. The weapon of choice in those wars has all too often been landmines – to such a degree that what we find today are tens of millions of landmines contaminating approximately 70 countries around the world.
I believe that worrying about the problems plaguing our planet without taking steps to confront them is absolutely irrelevant. The only thing that changes this world is taking action.
When I was a kid I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I did know what I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to grow up, have 2.2 kids, get married, the whole white picket fence thing.
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.
I believe in both my right and my responsibility to work to create a world that doesn’t glorify violence and war but where we seek different solutions to our common problems.