Saturday, March 10, 2012

One Click to Save the World

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do

      Edmund Burke

By now, I'm sure everyone in North America (and beyond) has heard of the Kony 2012 campaign.  My Facebook and Pinterest accounts have been inundated with images of Joseph Kony, and sadly up until a week ago, I had no idea who he was.  I clicked on the link to a YouTube video that introduced me to the horrors that have occurred in Uganda, all in the hands of Joseph Kony.  (Side note:  you will notice that nowhere in my blog are there any labels, links or titles that will either create traffic to my blog or to the Kony 2012 movement.  This is for a reason, which I will get to.  But we all know how to use Google, and so if you've not heard, please feel free to Google away...)

At first, I was outraged.  I mean, who wouldn't be?  There is this image of this beautiful boy who watch his family die.  As a mother, I just want to wrap my arms around him and let him know it's all going to be okay.  As a human, the sheer horror of what has gone on in Uganda is appalling.  How can we stand by and let this happen?  The director and narrator of this 30 minute video asks the same question and vows to do something about it.  He makes a promise to this little boy.

Ten years later, a video campaign spreads like wildfire through almost all social media sites.  People through out America become outraged.  Moved by the sight of a western toddler finding out about these atrocities, moved by the sad music in the background, moved by the flashbacks to Uganda - to Jacob as a boy, and now as a man.  Everyone wants something to be done.  Now.  In 2012.  Let's go get Joseph Kony. 

But wait.  How?  How do we do this? 

Utter helplessness strikes, until we find out that we can do something.  We can!  We can forward a link to everyone we know.  Then they'll know, and they'll send it on to others and everyone will know.  But wait, there's more.  We can buy a Kony 2012 package, complete with posters and bracelets and we can post the posters and wear the bracelets and...




This money that the Kony 2012 campaign raises - half goes to the costs of filming, directing and editing documentaries.  (Just as a point of reference, I sponsor a child through an organisation that guarantees at least 80% of the money they receive will go directly to the child I sponsor, the programs they run, and no more than 20% will go to overhead such as marketing or wages.)  So the video you've just watched, with the soulful music, that is what your money paid for.  Let me just say, you can put sad music to a toilet paper commercial and make people cry.  We're emotional - the human race.  It's what sets us apart from all the other mammals out there.  Our ability to feel empathy and want to do something about it.  We see something horrible going on, we want to do something about it.  We want to change the world.  Donating money to someones good intention, so he can direct movies, that's something....isn't it?  And ten years later??  It took ten years to make this video?  How many hundreds of thousands of children have died in the course of 10 years around the world?  In the time it took to make this 30 minute movie? 

Don't get me wrong, I think that what this guy is doing is a completely noble thing.  His intentions are wonderful.  He made a promise to Jacob, he kept his promise.  His gift, his talent, his *way* of getting things across is by directing a movie.  That's his gift.  That's okay.  There is nothing wrong with his presentation.  For others, their gift is organizing a rally or a 5k run.  Some people believe that by buying a $5.00 pink key chain, they're doing their part to fund research to cure breast cancer.  My fear is that you and I will get lost in the fact that we're saving the world, when all we're doing is clicking on a button or buying a bracelet.  And you, my friend, are sorely mistaken if you think you're saving the world by posting a Joseph Kony poster at work.  Fighting cancer, saving children, righting's not an easy thing to do.

You're also mistaken if you think that those are the only atrocities that are happening to children right now.  Never mind that Joseph Kony hasn't even been in Uganda for the past 6 years.  Never mind that doctors say the #1 threat to children is Uganda right now is the "Nodding Disease".  Never mind children in Somalia and Ethiopia are dying of starvation faster than you can save them.  Never mind that children are being sold into prostitution in Asia.  Never mind that in India, children are purposely deformed so they'll make more money when begging.  Never mind that right here in Canada, a Sunday School teacher is on trial for beating a little girl to death with a baseball bat.  Children all over the world are victims of horrible, horrible crimes.  There is something about evil that preys on the pure and innocent.  Signing a petition will never, ever solve that.  It might just ease your conscience.  And that, I think, is what bothers me more than anything. 

We're a generation of instant gratification - fast food, quick weight loss options, energy drinks - and now, saving the world.  It makes us feel good when we don't have to work hard to reap a reward.  It satisfies us enough to forward a link in our attempt to save the world.  What have we come to?  The outrage over the Kony 2012 campaign isn't so much the fact that this one person made a promise to a little orphaned boy ten years ago, it's that we're all so willing to support something because it tugs on our heart strings without any research, forethought or afterthought.   How many people gave a second thought to what was happening in Uganda after they forwarded that e-mail, link or picture?  How many people asked what else they could do?  Raising awareness is one thing...asking people to step up is quite another.  

This guy's solution is to get Obama and the Americans to storm into Uganda and put an end to this once and for all.  Let's just make it clear that the USA does not exist solely as a moral meter for other countries.  They have enough of their own problems to focus on, I think we all agree.  And truthfully, unless there is the threat of war or a threat to their oil supply, the US is really not obligated, nor inclined to go into any other country and play the super hero.  After WWII, everyone vowed that nothing like Hitler would ever happen again, meanwhile ethnic cleansing was happening in Chechnya and no one did a thing. 

My rant is just that, a rant.  I have no labels or links because quiet little blogs like mine have become viral overnight only because they've mentioned Kony.  I don't wish for fame in that fashion, I don't want my legacy to be the 'blogger who jumped on the Kony 2012 bandwagon'.  I simply want people to realize that changing the world is more than a click, a bracelet or a poster.  It's a way of life.  It takes hard work and motivation every single day, not one minute on a computer.  Don't get sucked into the sensationalism that this man has created.  I have friends who have devoted their lives to children in other areas of the world, as well as right here in Canada, and for them it's much more than a cause.  Follow this guy, or don't.  It makes no matter.  What matters, really, is the integrity with which you live your life every day.  What are you doing today to change the world?  Maybe not for a Ugandan orphan, but for someone less fortunate than you? 

1 comment:

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