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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Stop Kony

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. 

25 comments:

  1. "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." EXACTLY!!!! I Love it!!!

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  2. I really appreciate this post-- you see both sides of the issue about Kony and the charity and come to a very intelligent conclusion. Kony does need to be stopped, there are ways to do it if we don't like Invisible Children's sketchy spending practices, and even if we find this charity suspect, it is a victory that Americans are concerned about a real issue instead of Selena Gomez for once.

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  3. FYI, the source article is out of date. Kony and his regime were disbanded over 2 years ago; they're currently being hunted (and most often found starving) in the Congo. Someone's drummed this up to make a stir. "Invisible Children" pays it's "charity workers" nearly 90 K a year from donations.

    http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=12429

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  4. I'm glad you brought this up! I shared a link on my blog: http://authorjess.blogspot.com/2012/03/trip-around-thursday-hot-topics-and.html

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  5. Nothing new. In Italy we don't trust anyone. Bye!

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  6. Wow that is so sad. I had no idea! Didnt they say that the children are forced to murder their parents? Cuz i heard something like that. Even if this wont stop every evil person on the planet, we are still saving tons of children from losing all hope and being scarred in numerous ways if we stop this. I am not at all trying to make a joke about a topic this serious and heartbreaking, but this is looking a lot like Bin Laden, it took us decades to find him, and Al Qaeda is still around, but most people think we stopped them. So lets get the word out in Minnesota! STOP JOSEPH KONY STOP KONY STOP KONY
    Anyone? ( hears crickets, awkwardly blushes and walks away slowly)

    Makayla A. <3

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  7. You should really check out charity navigator before you donate money. The owner of the charity takes about a 90K pay cut out of the donations and their accountability and transparency ratings are really low. Most of the donations don't even go to the cause. PLEASE check out charitynavigator.org The cause is worth it but there are better charities than Invisible Children to donate money too to help it.

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  8. http://zombieapocalypseacademy.org/2012/zombie-apocalypse-academy/think-twice-before-donating-to-kony-2012-the-charitable-meme-du-jour/

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  9. I want to point out that I have NOT donated money to Invisble Children nor am I endorsing giving them money. However contacting your local politicians is free & doesn't even benefit Invisible Children monetarily.

    Invisible Children may indeed suck but that wasn't the point of this blog. The point was that it's exciting to see people care & people should do research. Hopefully people will find out more & find different ways to help people in Africa & around the world that need help.

    There are no easy answers to these problems, and I

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  10. http://www.invisiblechildren.com/financials - Though I am sure you are very thorough in your fact-checking, zombieapocalypseacademy.

    Also, http://allafrica.com/stories/201203080906.html

    My problem with the haters is that it's 1% where is this money going and 99% we hate trendy hipsters jumping on bandwagons.With a splash of "what is this going to do? nothing." thrown in.

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  11. You're correct in stating that action is different than mere emotion. The Susan B. Komen 'Race for a Cure' is symbolic of this. It seems that everywhere I traveled in the U.S. had this campaign. The bad thing was that people simply wore pink ribbons. The aforementioned is akin to changing ones FB pic...it is a show of support without action.

    This knucklehead Ugandan leader is but another tyrant who will ultimately fail. Sadly, like the hydra you mentioned in your post, some others will pop up and fill his void.

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  12. Before Monday I bet not a single person who commented on this blog even knew who Kony is. I am so sick of everyone freaking out about funding with this foundation. This is a marketing campaign and it was done so well there is actually a shot it might work. Those guys are very good at what they do. If they worked in the private sector they would make a lot more than 90,000 a year. Instead of selling Nikes or ipods for a ton of money, they are selling freedom and justice.

    Whatever the cost, if it works, it was worth it. Besides, doing anything to help a situation like this is always better than leaving the mess for someone else.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you!! my feelings exactly. I get paid a decent salary at my regular, A-5 job. And what am I doing with that money? Living in comfort in a big city. I wouldn't go to Africa and lead a movement of this magnitude for 10 years for 90K. The hard-hitting video couldn't be made with a couple hundred bucks, either.

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  13. 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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  14. 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.

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  15. 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.

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  16. 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.

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  17. 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.

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  18. 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.

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  20. I recommend joining 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.

    ReplyDelete
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