The KONY 2012 Fad
Over the last week or so, the internet has been lit up by this KONY 2012 campaign. In case you’ve managed to miss it, a group called Invisible Children has made a promotional video calling for the capture of a man called Joseph Kony in Uganda, largely for his abduction and brainwashing of child soldiers.
Now, while the prevention of child soldiers is a hard thing to argue against, there are plenty of reasons why this particular method is not the way to go. I’m a bit late to the party here, and in the week I have been intending to post this, a bunch of other articles have sprung up, so rather than go into a tirade of unnecessary repetition, I will just point you in the direction of a couple of other websites which can present some of the arguments against this latest fad.
However, some of the more salient points are:
1. While removing tyrants from the world, or at least from power, is an admirable goal, there is no reason to send funds to an organisation which by all accounts seems to be largely discredited in terms of doing any actual good and rather spends its money on nice houses and making its owners look cool. These guys may have started off with good intentions, but those seem to have given way to an extremely viable source of income for themselves. They now list themselves as Film Makers.
About 32% of the funds generated seem to go to actually helping Uganda, the rest of the money is spent on making flashier videos, travelling around the world, and buying pretty things. Awareness is good, but it is achieved now. And skewed awareness can do more harm than good. For example:
2. Kony is not even particularly relevant these days. He was a big deal years ago, but these days lives in relative obscurity. Some argue that making him a big deal again might make him out to be bigger than he actually is, and lend him more power in terms of terror.
3. Surprisingly, sending in Americans to open fire is not the only way for the countries of the world to solve their problems. In fact, America sticking its oar into spots of the world where it is not welcome, due to the uninformed “wishes” of its people, is the cause of many of them. Sometimes, a country understands its own ways more than the average gung-ho American.
4. On top of that, the Ugandan government, which is the group we are supposed to be helping, has some dubious issues of their own. And perhaps loading them up with guns to hunt down the army of children may not be the best long-term solution.
5. There is no time limit on capturing bad people. This “expires on 31 December 2012” thing is a basic marketing ploy to create a sense of urgency in the consumer, to spend Now. If Kony is not caught this year, do we just give up? If he is caught this year, is our job done? There are plenty more bad people in the world, and there is plenty more involved in this conflict, than just the capture of one man.
By all means, if there is an issue somewhere in the world, which you feel should be addressed, then write to the government about it and try to get something done. But do it once you are informed of the facts surrounding the situation, not just as a knee-jerk reaction to some popular emotional blackmail. The fight to make the world a better place is one worth fighting, but it should never be confined to a simple trend.