Thursday, July 14, 2011

What triggers people to march for peace?

Over the past few months I've been fascinated to read about the motivation behind the Nobel laureates and several nominees.  In some cases I've been afforded the opportunity to visit with them and have been asking two question...what got you started and how do you keep going? This morning I've been thinking about the "triggers" or "tipping points" that lead some people to act. 

Mairead Maguire became active with the Northern Ireland peace movement after three children of her sister, Anne Maguire, were run over and killed by a car.  It was driven by Danny Lennon, a Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) operator who had been fatally shot by British troops while trying to make a getaway. Danny Lennon had been released from prison in April 1976 after serving three years for suspected involvement in the PIRA.[16] On 10 August, Lennon and comrade John Chillingworth were transporting an Armalite rifle through Andersonstown, Belfast, when British troops, claiming to have seen a rifle pointed at them,[17] opened fire on the vehicle, instantly killing Lennon and critically wounding Chillingworth. The car Lennon drove went out of control and mounted a sidewalk on Finaghy Road North, colliding with Anne Maguire and three of her children who were out shopping.[18] Joanne (8) and Andrew (6 weeks) died at the scene; John Maguire (2) succumbed to his injuries at a hospital the following day.[19]
Betty Williams, a resident of Andersonstown who happened to be driving by, claimed to have witnessed the tragedy and accused the IRA of firing at the British patrol and provoking the incident.[20]  She began gathering signatures for a peace petition from Protestants and Catholics and assembled 200 women to march for peace in Belfast which passed near the home of Mairead Maguire (then Mairead Corrigan) and, joining it, she and Williams thus became "the joint leaders of a virtually spontaneous mass movement."[21]
The next march, whose destination was the burial sites of the three Maguire children, brought 10,000 Protestant and Catholic women together. The marchers, including Maguire and Williams, were physically attacked by PIRA members. By the end of the month Maguire and Williams had brought 35,000 people onto the streets of Belfast petitioning for peace between the republican and loyalist factions.[22] Initially adopting the name "Women for Peace," the movement changed its name to the gender-neutral "Community of Peace People," or simply "Peace People." In contrast with the prevailing climate at the time,[24] Maguire was convinced that the most effective way to end the violence was not violence but re-education.[25] She received the Nobel Peace Prize with Betty Williams in 1977 (the prize for 1976) for their efforts. 

Betty Williams "just happened to be driving by"on the day that tragedy struck the Maguire family...but so were other people.  She was motivated to do something and she followed through with her idea. The same equation but a different product.  

Mairead Maguire was immediate family of those who were innocent "collateral damage" but there were other relatives. She was motivated to do something and she followed through with her idea. Same equation, different product. 

These two women reacted and started a movement that began in a heart beat August 10, 1976 when their worlds became weaved together
through a tragic car accident.  One woman's efforts led to ultimately mobilize 200 people.  Then two women together mobilized 10,000, then 35,000 people onto the streets of Belfast.  What's even more interesting to me is their journey since they were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize...two women who were given a megaphone and two very different approaches to how to use the "tool."  What would it take for you to march?