You’ve probably heard of the viral campaign going around to “Stop Kony” or “Make Kony Famous” or “Kony 2012.” I’ve talked about it and posted the video on twitter and Facebook myself. You may have also heard about the new controversy surrounding Invisible Children, the organization behind the campaign.
If you’re not familiar with it, here is the thirty minute video put out to Stop Kony (which I do suggest you watch, if you haven’t already):
KONY 2012 from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.
Here is a link to the piece in The Daily What that talks about the Invisible Children: here. And here’s another piece from the Huffington Post talking more about Kony: here.
When I first started watching the Stop Kony video, I was annoyed that it was 30 minutes long. I still am actually. I think they could’ve condensed it down to a 5 minute video. Yes, that probably would’ve meant cutting out the director’s insanely adorable son and a Mumford & Son song, but it would’ve been more digestible.
At any rate, I did end up watching the whole thing.While I was moved by the plight of the children in Uganda – which is truly horrendous – I was leery about where the video was going. Thoughts I had during the first 20 or so minutes were:
-The guy making the video is clearly a hippie. This made me nervous, because a lot of times, hippies view a course of action as “hoping,” “dreaming,” “loving.” These aren’t courses of action. These are merely emotions that may spur action, but they aren’t action themselves. And nothing changes without action. It’s not merely enough to feel or want or hope – you must do.
-This Kony guy is a massive douche. But even if we take him out of power, the LRA is probably still going to be active. Dictatorships like this act like a hydra – cut one head off, and two more will pop up its in place. The entire climate in Uganda and the surrounding countries needs to change so they can defend themselves and organizations like LRA won’t be tolerated by their own local government. Sending the US in to get rid of one dictator is like giving a man fish vs. teaching him to fish himself. These people need to be able to feed themselves every day without US aide.
-The plights of people in Uganda is so multi-layered and complex that doing one act like this won’t change everything. In fact, I’m not sure it will change all that much. The video proclaims that if this one thing is done, we’ll have changed the world forever. That’s not true at all. Forever is a very, very long time. At best, we will change things for awhile.
But at the end of the video – when there came a clear, simple course of action – is when I started to get on board with the idea. It’s simple, possible for anyone to do, it’s free, and it could actually work.
One thing I took issue from The Daily What article was this part: KONY 2012, the latest fauxtivist fad sweeping the web (remember “change your Facebook profile pic to stop child abuse”?) The reason I liked Kony 2012 is because it’s the exact opposite of that.
I’ll be honest with you – I hate that crap. I remember a lot of people doing that for Caylee Anthony and thinking “How does this help anyone?” I’m very anti-child abuse, but changing your profile picture doesn’t do anything. Everyone knows kids are abused. We don’t need reminders. We need a call to action.
The Caylee Anthony death was a great time for America to have a conversation about how to prevent child abuse. If instead of changing your profile pic, they had said volunteer at a local woman’s shelter, gave tips on how to help young parents who seem overwhelmed, giving tips and signs on how to know whether a child is being abused, etc, I would’ve gotten on board.
But it didn’t. It was sentimentality without an action plan, so nothing changes.
The Kony 2012 is the first time I’ve seen a clear action plan in this internet movements, and I’ll admit it – I got excited.
That didn’t address my other concerns, which is that getting rid of Kony probably won’t dramatically change anything. But you know what – so what? Kony has raped and kidnapped somewhere between 10,000 and 66,000 kids. Even if getting rid of him doesn’t solve all of Uganda’s problems (and it won’t), it gets him off the street.
It’s like catching one pedophile in your neighborhood doesn’t get rid of every pedophile in the world. But it does get rid of that one.
So yes, I do think the video is a little melodramatic and exaggerated, but justifiably so. I don’t think people would react if they spoke about things more realistically, and this guy Kony is a douche. Everybody agrees with that. Just not everybody agrees that Invisible Children organization.
Which brings me to my next point – I don’t know anything about Invisible Children’s book keeping, so I can neither condemn or defend them. What I can say is what I believe: Most large charity organizations have some corruption and overhead costs. The larger the organization, the more problems it has. I’m not saying that its right or that I condone. I’m just being realistic.
Which is why I tend donate locally more. When you do that, more of the money you donate actually goes to the cause you’re supporting. I think it makes me more of a difference when I donate to my local humane society than it does the ASPCA. That’s not say that I don’t give money to the ASPCA, too – I just give more to my local human society, and I believe more of the money goes directly to helping the animals.
I’m not saying that to justify any wrongdoing that the Invisible Children may be doing (if they in fact are doing any). Or any wrongdoing that any charity organization is doing. I’m just saying that when I hear of corruption, I’m not shocked.
So what’s my take away from all of this? That Kony guy is a douche and should be stopped. We can do things to stop him without giving any money to Invisible Children. And we probably won’t change the world, but we might be able to change the lives for a lot of children.
And for a few days on twitter, the trending topics were about saving children instead of a celebrity. For me, that counts as a win.
I encourage all of you to more research and form an opinion for yourself on Kony and Invisible Children and the conflicts in Africa.
Said you can return it, Fabrice Muamba show very reason:” I know I made no small progress, but now the talk will start playing occupation game for me is too Ray Ban Wayfarer Sale early. Of course I want to play, but who knows? I can go there and back from the jaws of death, so maybe I can realize every wish.”
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I recommend joining http://www.Avaaz.org, an online activist group which really takes ACTION rather than just going, “Oh me, oh my, how awful.”
In order to take action, you just sign their petitions, which they email to you. If you agree with the cause, you sign. The organisers then deliver these petitions to the relevant governments. I have signed for issues such as saving the Amazon rainforest and protecting the political protesters in Syria. I believe Avaaz’s petitions have made a huge difference in some situations (less in others), but in particular they have made a difference with the political prisoners in Syria recently. Basically they are using people power in a positive way, and large groups of people can be very persuasive to governments. By signing, you get to exercise your democratic rights. If you are the kind of person who cares about issues, it’s worth joining Avaaz.
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I completely agree with your point about a call to action. Sentimentality is important because it reminds people they can feel things outside themselves. But if you want things to change, you have to DO something. Stop complaining and DO.
And it’s horrible that we’ve become so skeptical of the work of some charitable organizations. But you’re right: Some have gotten bigger than their causes, which is very bad.
Thanks for posting about such an important issue.
I was excited when I saw an action plan, too. Like you, I don’t jump on board with changing avatars and hitting “share” or “retweet” on every picture post that shows up in my timeline. All that does is . . . NOTHING. I became a small-town politician because I refuse to be an armchair-opinionator, and am a strong advocate for change. If there’s something I can do, I do it – if there’s someone I can help, I do – if there’s a cause I can help rally – I do. Sorry for the long comment – this has been weighing on my mind ever since I first saw the video.
Excellent share, Amanda. I wish more people would spend a few minutes of their day really examining this world of ours and where it’s headed.
This is why I became an advocate for Unicef, Somaly mam,and End Modern Slavery Now. In a lot of third world countries,severe poverty, war, etc has led to the belief that life is cheap.
I recently posted this video on my facebook and have noticed it being posted on other blogs and such. It’s good to see that others, including yourself, are helping to keep it circulating around the net. Hopefully we can make Kony so famous that the only place he has left to hide is up his own butt. It may not stop the LRA for good, but then again… When we killed Hitler, did it or did it not end the genocide? I can only hope for the same result with Kony. We have to start somewhere. Thanks for posting this. The world needs to know.
My favorite thing about KONY2012 is that it’s making people care. Yes, Uganda needs to learn how to fish, but sometimes pressure can accelerate the teaching. If no one else in the world knew about this guy it might take another decade or so for the Uganda government (or wherever he is now) to bring him down. Maybe now with so many eyes on the issue, pressure from the world and a little aid from the US, Kony and other criminals like him will not get away with their crimes for so long as they have till now.
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