My Thoughts on Kony 2012
I’m going to warn you now – this blog post offers far more questions than answers. That’s because, when it comes to the issues of foreign affairs, policy, war crimes and advocate mobilization, I don’t have many answers. In reality, I might not have any answers at all. But, I do realize that these are important topics and I am trying (with the generous help of Twitter) to educate myself about them.
Today, I awoke to a flurry of Kony 2012 Facebook posts. If you haven’t seen these, you can learn more about the video here. I have to be honest; whenever I see a lot of people on Facebook talking about the same topic I become a little skeptical. Typically, ideas spread quickly on the site because they are compelling, frightening and emotional. These are elements of terrific viral mobility, but they don’t always make for the best education vehicles. As someone who has spent 20 years of my life in school, I can tell you that education can’t always be sexy; and that anything worth knowing or caring about takes hours and hours of research to master.
That said, I appreciate people trying to get involved however they can. This post seeks to make a point about the viral nature of some facts over others. It does not seek to demonize the people who are tying to help. However ill informed we might be.
Instead of re-posting the video to my Facebook page, I turned to Twitter to get some information from resources I’ve grown to trust. You might be rolling your eyes right now, judging me for using Twitter as a source of information. But, like I said, I don’t have any answers on this topic and I knew that people like @DKuzLA and @ryanlinstrom would be able to provide me with more information. And boy was I right.
It turns out that there’s much more to the story (Visible Children and Justice in Conflict illustrate some interesting points). Some people question the video’s focus, others question its motivations, while others point out that the video doesn’t offer a realistic solution. Greater minds than mine don’t know what the answer is, and I will not pretend that my few hors of reading this morning offer even the slightest semblance of a solution. But, I do have a couple of things to offer from this and other experiences:
- Don’t trust something just because a lot of people are talking about it. Even if you end up at the same conclusion, it’s a good idea to dig a little deeper.
- Don’t let guilt guide your decision to support a cause. One topic I do know something about is marketing and I know that guilt can be a huge motivating factor for people to take action. Do what you can, but don’t beat yourself up for not being a part of every cause.
- Don’t let people make you feel bad for not always having the answer. The more I learn – especially about non-profit organizations and their impact in African nations – I realize that a lot of what I thought about effective giving was wrong. But, do I feel bad for believing that one-for-one (like the Tom’s shoes concept) was a good idea at the time? No, not at all. I am proud that I’m educating myself now, but I won’t apologize for what I believed was a good idea. When people are acting from their hearts to help others, that’s a good first step. Period.
I am happy that I saw the Kony 2012 video this morning. It opened my eyes to another topic that I didn’t know much about and, for that, I am grateful. I won’t be posting it to my Facebook page, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t be moved to take action in other ways. For today, I will continue to read and converse with people who know more than I do in the hope that some of their passion and knowledge will rub off on me.
So, if you’ve seen the video or read any of the articles, I’d love to know what you think – from one novice to another.
Oh, before I depart, I also want to point you in the way of an activist who has been inspiring me lately – Shanley Knox. I read this post on her blog a few days ago that I thought was a really true look at her experiences as an activist and someone who works in Africa. I find myself enthralled in her writing and her honesty. So, if you’re interested in these topics, you should check her out.