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.