Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Power of One

Today I watched Veronica Guerin, a 2003 movie based on the life of Irish journalist Veronica Guerin, who was murdered in 1996 by drug lords after refusing to be intimidated into not reporting on their criminal activity.

Cate Blanchett played the lead role, and she was terrific, as was the entire cast, really.

Well, I’m a big old crybaby, as you know, so of course I cried during the movie, especially there at the end.

Guerin was an honest-to-God investigative journalist, the kind that you don’t see much of on mainstream media any more.

And while I have no idea how many liberties the movie producers may have taken with the story, by all accounts the real Veronica Guerin was indeed a force with which to be reckoned.

Journalism was a third career for Guerin. After working in accounting and public relations she transitioned into journalism while in her early thirties. However, Guerin used her accounting skills in her writing career, tracing income earned through illegal activity.

Guerin received numerous death threats and was shot and attacked before being murdered. I find these facts astounding. Most people are terrified of experiencing pain and will quickly retreat after being threatened. Think about it. Don’t you know people in your workplace who won’t confront a nasty coworker or boss because they’re afraid of being hurt? Of having something of value taken away? And usually these folks are not in physical danger, but their instinct to avoid pain is strong nonetheless.

And here Guerin was in actual physical danger, and she still forged ahead. She was quoted in the British paper The Telegraph as saying “They [the drug lords] are destroying lives, and they are practically untouchable.”

I don’t know if Guerin was courageous beyond belief, stubborn beyond belief, crazy beyond belief, all of these, or none of these. In any case, her story is downright inspiring and makes you want to go out into the world and do something.

After Guerin was murdered, the community was so outraged, protesters took to the streets for days, and the Irish parliament changed the laws to allow for the government to seize the assets of those suspected of criminal activity. The investigation into her death resulted in 150 arrests, including those of her killers. Dang. Now that’s what I call activism.

The power of tenacity. The power of persistence. The power of the written word. The power of one.


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