I’m not normally one to take time to process stuff. I’m more of your rapid response, think fast kind of guy. This has it’s advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side it can make meetings go quicker, I occasionally stop situations escalating and means I usually spend less time focussing on problems. On the negative side it can make me a bit knee-jerk and sometimes means I push on without waiting for others…like most things there’s good and bad and I take both.
On Tuesday morning whilst waiting to board my train I noticed on Facebook and twitter a lot of mentions retweet and hashtags for something called Kony2012. I didn’t have time to delve and by the time I got to the office it had grown even further. By lunchtime people around me were watching a half hour film on YouTube and friends on Facebook had ordered action kits and were urging me to watch and get involved.
As I ate my lunch I clicked one of the now numerous links and began to watch. The film is well made, poignant and challenging. The mix of statistics, personal reflections and a call to action leave you feeling both helpless and powerful all at once. I instantly went to the website, checked out the t-shirts, bracelets and posters. I weighed up in my mind what to add to my basket. Sure the action kit is good but the big kit has everything, with that I could really get involved. I found the celebs who’ve be retweeting, the articles supporting and the story of Kony and why he needs to be stopped…then I stopped.
I went back to google and tried again, this time looking for Kony2012 and Invisible Children (the organisation behind the campaign). I found articles questioning their tactics, their finances and their aims. I found news reports on the Ugandan Military and their own reported human rights record…and then I stopped.
As evening became morning it seemed more and more of the world became aware of Kony and the campaign to make him famous. My online friends now offering conflicting views, with some calling for action, others for caution. The rallying cry of “stop at nothing” being met with “at any cost?” By the time I got home from work last night it was being reported that over 36million people had watched the film online and blogs, comments and tweets were vast and varied in their response.
And so here I am arriving late to the party and still not sure where to sit.
If the question is – do I want to see Kony arrested? – the answer is yes.
If the question is – do I want to see the LRA stopped? – the answer is yes.
If the question is – do I like the fact that millions of people are getting passionate and fired up to act in the face of a clear injustice? – the answer is yes.
If the question is – do I think Kony’s arrest will stop the LRA? – the answer is possibly not…but it’ll be a good start and therefore worth it.
If the question is – do I want to fund the Ugandan military? – the answer is…well…I’m not sure…feels like a bad idea but what if it’s the only option…is it the only option?
If the question is – is military intervention from the USA the best way to solve international problems? – the answer is…again I don’t know…it certainly wasn’t seen to be when Iraq was invaded…quite the opposite…words like ‘colonial’ were used…is this somehow different?
If the question is – will retweets, a video, posters, bracelets and t-shirts save the lives of innocent children in Uganda? – the answer is I don’t know…but it’s got to be worth a try hasn’t it?
I haven’t struggled to find support Kony 2012 and that’s no surprise because either through passionate belief or a fear of missing the boat (and a million reasons inbetween) people have caught the vision and are ready to act.
I haven’t struggled to find criticism of Kony 2012 and that’s no surprise because either through passionate belief or a cynicism developed out of fear that they’ve already missed the boat (and a million reasons inbetween) people think the vision is flawed and are ready to challenge it.
Writing for The Independent Musa Okwanga called his article “Stop Kony, yes. But don’t stop asking questions” and perhaps these eight words hold the key. As I watch and re-watch the film, as I read the articles, the responses to the articles and the responses to the responses to the articles, this should lead me to ask more questions. Not to hamper my action or to stifle my passion but to make sure that I act equipped and educated. To ensure that I don’t begin to advocate or act on the behalf of others without being sure my motivations are good and I’m not just following the band of public option playing a new and popular tune. To ensure that along the way if a better idea for helping solve this problem comes along I won’t be so blinkered as to miss it. To be confident that if a newer but less effective idea comes along I won’t be so ill-equipped as to jump on it without thought or question leaving behind my previous zeal for this one. Questions that inspire and develop greater passion and heartfelt action can be difficult to ask but are priceless in value.
And so below I’ve put links to the video, the Kony2012 website, the article from the independent, a blog, another blog, the charity’s response and anything else I could find and have read so far.
If this is the year and the time has come to stop this travesty in Uganda, I want to make sure I do everything I can…and that means everything.
WATCH / READ / QUESTION
KONY 2012 VIDEO – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc
KONY 2012 WEBSITE – http://www.kony2012.com
STOP KONY, YES. BUT DON’T STOP ASKING QUESTIONS – http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2012/03/07/stop-kony-yes-but-dont-stop-asking-questions/
VISIBLE CHILDREN BLOG – http://visiblechildren.tumblr.com/
INVISIBLE CHILDREN RESPONSE TO CRITICISM – http://www.invisiblechildren.com.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/critiques.html
KRISH KANDIAH BLOG – http://krishk.com/2012/03/stop-stop-kony-2012/