The Kony 2012 campaign has caused a huge stir in the world.
Is it good?
Is it bad?
Are we being fooled?
Are the organisers just manipulating us so they can make lots of money?
Is it foolishly idealistic?
I’m a European and I’m a born cynic (ask my family) and here is what I think.
It is important to know – as much as possible – what is going on. It is important to investigate truth for oneself and not to be duped but here are the questions I have asked myself about this campaign –
If my child was in danger from Joseph Kony would I want help?
Would I feel insulted if people from other countries tried to help me?
Would I care if they were making mistakes or would I be glad someone was trying – even imperfectly – to help me?
There is a lot of criticism about the Invisible Children campaign but I haven’t read – or heard – even one thing that says their accusations against Joseph Kony are false. Everybody says the same thing about him – he is a vicious criminal and nobody has managed to stop him.
So, what is bothering us, exactly? That we’ll be fooled?
OK – that’s not pleasant but I’d prefer to run the risk of looking foolish than to leave people in danger because I was busy protecting my ego – wouldn’t you?
As for the paternalism accusations – helping anybody, anywhere, any time can be seen as paternalistic – it’s all about how it’s done. So here are my questions about that –
Are the people (even the Ugandans) who are objecting to the campaign the ones living in terror?
Do the people who live in this abject terror object to the attempts to help them?
If those in the firing line are happy to receive the help – and I don’t know if they are but it seems that way – is it not really incredibly paternalistic to say they don’t know what is best for themselves?
Saying we don’t want help from outside is a divisive act like saying we will only help our own people. National boundaries are increasingly illusory and increasingly impossible to uphold in the ways we used to define them in the past. The earth is clearly more and more obviously just like one country, so unless the assistance is extra-terrestrial surely it isn’t really from outside?
As for accusations against the Ugandan government – I imagine they are mostly true but I wonder would any of our governments stand up to much scrutiny and if not should that deprive us of help from others?
This campaign interests me because it is trying to find ways to use our present day social reality to facilitate some good.
I’m sure it’s flawed. I’m sure they are making mistakes. I’m sure it won’t be entirely successful but here’s the final question I ask myself about this –
If this campaign helps to improve the life of one child will it be worthwhile?
For me the answer is yes.