March 7, 2012

Koney2012 – My Reaction

Posted in Current Events at 11:56 pm by jimazing

kony2012All of a sudden, there is this compelling video popping up like crazy on FB. Tonight rather than going to bed like I said I was, I watched the 30 minute video and was blown away. I was ready to sign on the dotted line. I typed my email address and zip code on the pledge form and was about to click the Pledge Now button when a nagging little voice inside asked me, “What do you really knew about this? After all, you never even heard of Joseph Koney until just 30 minutes ago. Now you are ready to sign a petition? Really?”

This is what I knew:

  • I just watched a very compelling video.
  • The presentation persuaded me that something must be done about Joseph Koney
  • I was persuaded that I could play a small part.
  • I felt empowered to make a difference in the world

The nagging voice said, “Exactly!  You don’t know anything except what you just saw. Isn’t it at least worth a google search first?”  I searched for “kony2012”. In the first four results were two sites with a negative spin. I looked at the first one with skepticism. the site is named Jezebel, which was a turn off. But I had already decided that Kony2012 was a great cause and anyone who was against them must have an agenda. Wow, I had already turned off my brain before I started.

Search result #4 was from the Huffington Post, a reliable news outlet. Hmmm.  I skimmed the article and got a little better picture of what is going on. However, this quote woke me from my slumber:

By blindly supporting Uganda’s current government and its military adventures beyond its borders, as Invisible Children suggests that people do, Invisible Children is in fact guaranteeing that there will be more violence, not less, in Central Africa.

I have seen the well-meaning foreigners do plenty of damage before, so that is why people understanding the context and the history of the region is important before they blunder blindly forward to “help” a people they don’t understand.

The Problem With Invisible Children’s “Kony 2012” – Huffington Post

The little voice inside me said, “Thank you for listening to me.”  While I was ready to blindly follow these folks because of the compelling nature of this video, the red flags were waving in my mind like crazy.  My lizard brain did not want to pay attention, but fortunately I was eventually able to settle down and rationally decide that this could wait until tomorrow at least.

Now that I have thought about it for a little while, I feel manipulated and find myself skeptical of the whole thing. If past performance is an indicator, this will end with inaction on my part. I am not proud of that.  I truly want to stop people like Koney. I want to make the world a better place, but sometimes helping hurts. It is vital to understand the person, group, nation, world that you want to help before you try to help. Otherwise, you will not truly understand what the real needs are. Understanding the history and culture is essential to making an effective impact.  You cannot get that kind of understanding from watching a video designed to compel you to action when you are sleepy.

The video is absolutely worth watching. It is important on many levels. I urge you to watch it and then before responding, take at least 30 minutes (the length of the video) to think about it and consider other opposing views.  See the video here:


  1. Thanks for the update. While we are at it, I think we should also put a stop to Pontius Pilate.

  2. Curtis martin said,

    Jim–you are reminding me of several info-mercials I have ended up calling in to get product “x” late at night–usually to lose weight or get chiseled-looking abs! I guess if it’s about a cause or a product–the means is the same–marketing . . . A tool of persuasion aimed at getting people to take action.
    I will watch when I have 30 minutes (uninterrupted), but I am curious, is your comment about the Huffington Post sincere? I ask because I don’t really consider it or any news source “reliable”–honestly–they seem to be other sources of marketing to me. But I like your approach of checking several sources before “signing on the dotted line.” I guess like email, harnessing the lizard from dotted lines is a good practice as well! Thanks for sharing your experience–your words matter!

  3. Cathryn Broderhausen said,

    I love your clear thinking mind. Whatever “side” someone ends up taking, that decision would be much more reliable if folks would do what you did…THINK first, ACT (or not) second. Thank you for setting an example of that and for offering this reminder.

  4. dullgeek said,

    When I was watching the video, I had a similar reaction as yours. But I tend to easily trust my skepticism. Which meant that I didn’t look into alternative details, like the article you found on HuffPo. Thanks for that.

    Still my skepticism was as follows:

    1) IC may be right that Kony is just doing a raw power grab.
    2) But he can’t build up an army of kids without getting funding from somewhere. He has to feed, clothe, and arm those kids. That takes money.
    So he must be doing something that someone else likes. He does this thing – whatever it is – in exchange for funding.
    3) Which means that if you get rid of Kony, someone else most likely will step in, because there’s demand for whatever it is that Kony does.
    4) However bad a person Joseph Kony is, arresting him is not likely to stop the bad that is happening to those kids.
    5) The problem is *much* bigger than just one man. So IC is probably overly optimistic to think that stopping Kony will make much improvement in Northern Africa.

    The link to the HuffPo piece confirms my skepticism, not in the sense that I figured out the problem, but more in the sense that I was right that it was a bigger problem than the IC video talked about.

    Thanks for the link and the research.

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