Devil’s Advocate – In defense of the clueless but passionate among us

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I’m going to take on the role of devil’s advocate here.

I understand how you would want to deride this young woman for her pretty abysmal ability to communicate what she cares about, but some people just don’t know much. But unlike most…  at least she’s trying. She cares enough about this to stand in front of a city council and argue for something she obviously struggles to wrap her head around. This takes more chutzpah than any blog post or comment any of us has ever written.

Personally, I’d trade a dozen smarty pants types (like most people who blog and/or comment on blogs) for one person willing to put real volunteer time on issues they care about. Its amazing how many people will jump to forward an email, write to a newspaper editor, argue online or even sit in meetings for hours and hours on end… but when you ask them to knock on doors or make phone calls for a few hours on a day off, they find a long and sad list of excuses.

Organizers joke about it all the time, saying things like “I wish those damn bloggers would get off their 1@# @&&3& and do some real work!”

Political campaigns are filled with people like this. People who don’t know much, but they met the candidate and believe in them, or care so much about that issue, and they get out there and do something about it. This young woman is getting out there and doing something about what she believes. No amount of armchair quarterbacking holds a candle to one hour of action.

I participate in blogs because its a fun and stimulating way for me to pass the time that I would probably otherwise be vegetating in front of the TV. However, after years of working at the grassroots level, I’ve seen what makes a real impact. Because of this, I spend more time working on the formation of a local independent grassroots group, educating myself on fundraising, guerrilla marketing and other useful subjects, setting up meetings with potential co-founders and asking people for input on the plan… and studying for the GRE so I can get into a better nonprofit management program.

I understand how its hard for people to get out there and do something that has an impact on things, but if you spend 3, 4+ times more time and energy each year arguing with people online in comparison to time in the trenches… making phone calls, knocking on doors, helping set up meetings, handing out lit at events, working booths or whatever things the local chapter of whatever issue org you support needs help with, then frankly you don’t really care about the issue, you just think you do.

People act on what they really care about, they talk about what they’re annoyed with. Maybe Justin can give a good excuse in that he runs a site that educates tens of thousands of people a month on what is going on in the world, but for the rest of us on here, we need to get out there and do something real and tangible or we’re no better than the stereotypical old guy sitting on his porch bitching about the world… but when you ask him what he did about it in his life, he tells you with pride that he left the politics to the corrupt and wicked… EXACTLY the opposite of what we need people to do.

So I say bravo to the young woman in the video. I’d hope that she gets more confidence (for all we know she’s just so nervous that she just can’t think straight… I’ve known plenty of super smart people that turn to mush in front of more than five people) and learns more about what she cares about, but most of all I hope she keeps on getting out there and acting on her beliefs.