Thursday, March 8, 2012

On KONY2012 and listening to my inner hippie (This post is not what you think it is) (Really)

(I know that I've been away far too long, Boolings, and I'm sorry. I've been doing a lot of  and thinking and introspection and learning. Also: moving house. But we'll catch up on that another time. Today is KONY2012 time.)

I’m sure most of you have read or heard about the KONY2012 campaign. If not, and you have half an hour to spare (which I assume you do if you’ve wandered over to Miss Boo’s spot), watch the video here. I’ll just go and make some coffee while you do, and we’ll meet back here in say, 29 minutes?

*slurping sounds* dunking chocolate biscuits in coffee sounds * dropping bits of soggy biscuit in coffee, followed by foul words sounds *

Back? Good. What did you think?

It’s quite a video, isn’t it? I thought so, too. It’s done so brilliantly and sucks you in so fast and so well that before you know it, you’re sold. The thing is, I’ve learnt to trust my instinct, whether it’s whispering or shouting. And in this case, it was yelling at me incessantly. Now don’t go rolling your eyes! We all know that a dirty little hippie activist lives inside me and she burns incense at regular intervals to get my attention. But in this case, she was shaking her head stubbornly, going “Something don’t feel  right, sister!” I watched it again, to be sure, and there it was again… This little voice saying, “NO.” So off I went and Googled Kony, the LRA, the Ugandan government, and Invisible Children. (This might have something to do with the fact that I think it’s kind of sleazy to use your 5-year old kid to manipulate your audience, but hey… that might just be me.)

Friends, I have to say that all around, I didn’t like what I found. There is so much information out there; all we have to do is LOOK FOR IT. I know that the Kony2012 video is incredibly inspiring in its message, its production, and some of the catchphrases. (The two that resonated most with me were: “Where you live shouldn’t determine whether you live.” and “A bunch of littles can make a big difference.”) It gets you fired up and makes you believe that you can do just about anything, if you believe in it enough. And you know what? You can. What bothers me about KONY2012 is this: If you can do anything, shouldn’t you do it armed with knowledge, so you can do it the best? And by best, I don’t mean ‘make the most money’ or ‘get the most YouTube hits and publicity’. I mean ‘making a real difference’. I just feel like KONY2012 looks like this big ‘saviour’, riding in on its noble white steed, glimmering and glinting in all its First World Glory, and… missing the point.

I think the thing that made me uneasy was that it was all about what Invisible Children did. IC saved Jacob. IC went to Washington. IC made movies about an old conflict, which is simmering down at the moment,  and told everyone how much good they’re doing, and how much people halfway across the world need people just like them to get involved and do more. It was all a little too sanctimonious for me, and I’m glad for it, because it made me question them. And there are hoards of people who’ve done the same.

Here are just a few of the articles and thoughts I’ve read since coming across KONY2012, which have made me so very glad that I listened to the dirty hippie inside:

In response to many of the questions raised by numerous people online (many of which are addressed in the posts above), Invisible Children posted this. Warning: This post includes a paragraph referring to Ke$ha as a ‘poet’. Yes, that Ke$ha.*

I agree that Kony IS a ‘bad guy’, and he DOES need to be stopped. I think that the concept started out as something incredible, but the reality of it is something a little different. I think that some of the bigger aid organizations could learn a thing or two from the KONY2012 phenomenon. But ultimately? Sticking posters up in your city isn’t going to bring Kony any closer to justice, unless he’s struck down by an acute case of Seriously Bad Juju from everyone who’s seen the videos. **

It’s all very well being a part of something, but instead of blindly sending money away, make sure that you’re committing to be a part of something that’s truthful, genuine and effective. Peace isn’t going to happen over night. Kony’s arrest (if he’s even still alive) will not suddenly stop the LRA. It will not automatically heal the wounds and people won’t just move on. If he’s arrested and tried in the Hague for war crimes, are all the people of Uganda going to love each other and commit to never letting something like this happen again? To loving everyone, no matter what? That didn’t work even when the whole world committed to it!

Personally, I’m glad to give my money to well-known and globally recognized aid organizations. Just because they’re old and established doesn’t mean they’re ineffective. They’re easy to find:

So friends, Boolings, please. Before you get too swept away in something that’s already spreading like wildfire, stop, think and learn a little more first. Make an informed choice. Have an informed voice. You don’t always have to listen to everyone else, and do what the fucking hipsters cool kids are doing. They might just be doing it wrong.

*I’m not sure I can put my full trust in someone who calls Ke$ha a poet. Ever.

** If Collective Seriously Bad Juju was something that could strike down bad guys, there would be no causes left to fight for.

*** The Inner Hippie is reminding me that ‘Fighting for Peace is like Fucking for Virginity’. Oh yea!