Kony 2012: The Goal is Not Our “Awareness”

March 9, 2012

In the West, it’s almost inconceivable that the universe doesn’t revolve around us. We believe the Americas weren’t “discovered” until a European stumbled across the land; the natives just don’t count, apparently.

Hollywood has created dozens upon dozens of films about white Westerners going to Africa to save the Africans who apparently just need white people to lead the way. It’s just fascinating.

The recently viral “KONY 2012″ video is a perfect example of all of this. Don’t get me wrong: if you watched the video and were moved, then that’s perfectly understandable.

It was well made, and part of the video focused on real victims of a real tyrant. It was shocking and sad. You reacted because you have empathy, and that’s absolutely wonderful.

But unfortunately, as I wrote yesterday, that’s only part of the story. The “activism” requested in the video would support Uganda’s tyrannical government, make matters worse, stir up the fires, get the US military involved in another continent, and kill innocent people. It’s dangerous and misleading.

But What About Awareness?

This is where the self-centered thing comes into play. It’s almost impossible for many of us to comprehend this idea: we aren’t the focus. Us being “aware” of a problem shouldn’t be the goal. The goal should be for the people in Uganda to be helped. And that’s it.

“Awareness” is a feel-good word that simply means, in this context, “the charity is good because it’s focused on me and how I feel.”

At one point in the video, the narrator literally said, “That promise is just not about Jacob or me its also about you.

It’s a brilliant marketing touch, because charities which focus exclusively on the victims aren’t necessarily going to be nearly as romantic or viral as charities based on the viewer feeling they’ve become a better person by simply noticing something wrong. The self-focused standard is so low, it’s really just surreal.

Selfishness without reason is just one huge game of Russian Roulette, especially when dealing with foreign policy, killing people, and helping Uganda. This should be deeply concerning to everyone.

Let me make this brutally clear: awareness only matters if it helps people. That’s it. Us just happening to notice isn’t the goal. Helping victims is the goal.

It’s not about us; it’s about them.  

Someone told me earlier today that if invading Africa at all to fight Kony isn’t a good idea, then that would mean almost every international “intervention” by our military would be a bad idea.

He’s on the right path.

Self-Obsessed Charity

Self-obsessed non-profit organizations are dangerous, because there’s no market mechanism for keeping the organization “accountable”. If people feel good about themselves giving you cash, your group can grow whether it’s doing good at all or not.

That’s one of many scary revelations about the recent Kony video. The most common response I’ve heard from dozens of people today alone is that while, yes, the organization might be shady, manipulative, and supporting a military conflict that is dangerous and would likely cause blowback, the video is great because of “awareness”.

The Ugandan people aren’t amused.

One of the photographers of the infamous RPG image is grossed out.

AllAfrica.com is even outraged.

The Atlantic Wire is even upset.

Foreign Affairs is concerned.

The video oversimplifies, is misleading, and is trying to encourage people to get DC to make the region even more violent than it already is. The organization is a war-lobbying group — their focus just happens to be on Kony. This is scary. Real lives are at stake.

What’s Wrong With “Invisible Children”?

You can read a longer article here. But this is a quick summary about what the problems with Invisible Children are:

Less than a third of the budget goes to helping anyone in Africa.

No Africans are serving in positions of leadership. Only non-Africans lead the organization.

IC is publicly calling out for more international violence and meddling in Africa.

The three young founders are enjoying $85,000+ per year salaries, plus expenses paid and other perks, at the very least.

Invisible Children refuses to provide documents to BBB for accountability.

Removing Kony empowers Uganda’s government even more:

  • Uganda’s government is working on literally mass slaughtering its gay population.
  • Uganda’s government is one of the most corrupt in the world.
  • Uganda’s government is constantly using torture and murder and other crimes against humanity.

Even the Ugandan people are reacting with complete anger over the video.

How to Help

Helping is important, of course. But the goal is to really help — not just feel like we’ve helped. One way to help is to donate money to any charity — helping a person is helping a person, regardless of how dramatic their story is.

For example, giving money to Water.org can help save real lives — rather than just take part in a pro-war marketing campaign, which is what happens to most money given to Invisible Children.

Here are two good options:

Please donate to those charities if you want to help people who really need it. Thanks for reading. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with having shared the video if you hadn’t done research about the topic — that’s understandable for most people. But not that you’ve done your homework, remember to let other people know about the truth behind this Kony movement.

Our goal should be to help people — not just to focus on how aware we are.

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