Sunday, December 23, 2012

Badass Pacifists

From Cracked, The Six Most Aggressively Badass Things Done by Pacifists. I wish this list had been put together for a less cynical magazine, but it is terrific reading.

Consider Cambodian Aki Ra:
Aki Ra was kidnapped from his family at the age of 5 (roughly -- Ra is unsure of his precise age) by the Khmer Rouge, a genocidal paramilitary group in Cambodia. He was given mine-planting duty, because a child's small hands are more suited to the delicate work of planting murder-bombs, and we really hope that's the most depressing sentence we have to write this week. What sounds like objectively the worst childhood in history continued until 1983, when Ra was captured by the Vietnamese Army, who quickly ... made him do exactly the same thing, but for them. Just file that away in your head to be remembered the next time you feel disappointed by literally anything.

It wasn't until 1992, when the U.N. came to Cambodia, that Ra saw a chance to undo the damage he'd been forced to do as a kid. Working with the U.N. bomb defusers, Ra began digging up the old mines that he had planted -- and continued doing so after the U.N. left two years later, declaring a job well done. This will become hilarious in a second. . . .

Deminers like Aki Ra play an important role because they make land habitable again, but it's tough work: There's an estimated 4 to 6 million unexploded mines in Cambodia. And "shifting" mines is a tough, multi-person job: The most successful deminers employ 1,000 people and can still only remove about 3,000 landmines per month. Unless, of course, you know them intimately, like Aki Ra, who has removed over 50,000 mines all by himself with a knife and his bare hands.

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