Marla Ruzicka standing in front of an exploded car.

Professional protestors bother me.  People whose hobby is to stand on government lawns with signs and yell their opinion.  Their goal is not to change the world, but to change their government to something that will change their world for them.  That’s never going to happen.

I’m not opposed to the average person occasionally standing on a government lawn with a sign yelling things.  Showing Government that there’s groundswell support for something isn’t a bad thing at all. I’ve even gone to one.  It was a rally, not a protest, so we sat quietly on the lawn of the capitol building in Lansing and ate chicken, but the point was to show that there was support for our cause with numbers, not volume.

So I heard today about a woman who practiced practical political activism.  Marla Ruzicka felt that more innocent civilians were being killed by war than was being reported.  Not just by US soldiers, but by war in general.  So, rather than organize a protest, she went to Kabul and started counting.  After a good count, she went to the US Embassy there.  Rather than waving a sign, she brought with her some people who’d been hurt, and said to the embassador “You said you’d help.  Here’s someone you can help, what are you going to do about it right now?”.

In the end, the US Government started pulling together programs, standards, and protocols for counting and helping innocent civilians.  Tens of millions of dollars went into finding injured people, and getting help to them.  That is practical activism.

When the most recent Iraq war started, she was off to Baghdad.  No matter how much The Government does, there will always be more to be done, and things to change.  She continued her work, found people in-country to help, and to get help from, and made a real difference.

On April 16, 2005, she was killed by a roadside bomb along with her Iraqi partner.  She was 28.

Update 20 Jul 2022.

Marla’s Wikipedia page.

Marla’s memory wall.

3 thoughts on “Practical political activism

  1. I’ve known a lot of people who probably fall under the banner of ‘professional political activists’ and was one myself for a year. The protests are the thing that gets coverage but it’s extremely rare that they’re not part of a far larger programme, which will include education, research, and lobbying. Of the hundreds of political activists I’ve known, there have only been a handful who spend all their time at protests.

    As you note, protests are usually for the purpose of showing strength of numbers, and they’re rarely effective without behind-the-scenes support.

  2. i’ve found that more often than not, there is very little effective behind-the-scenes support to ’causes’.

    as a result, people come off looking like they’re knee-jerking an issue response. and that does nothing useful for getting credibility enough to get the ear of someone who can mobilize muscle behind the ’cause’.

    that holds true for conservative ’causes’ as well as liberal ones…screaming does very little to put forth rational thought in the free marketplace of ideas/dissent.

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