Kony 2012 - Harm or Good?

I'm here to stir the pot. I'm here to eat pizza. I'm here to look at pictures of kittens dressed up as people. But right now, I'm here to stir the pot just a little bit. 


If you have a Facebook account, and 30 minutes of free time, you've watched Invisible Children's video on Kony 2012. If you haven't, you can view it above. The short film is very moving, and shines a light on an important issue many people don't even realize exists. Over the past 72 hours, the link has been spreading like wildfire, and thousands of people have made 180's from being unaware, to donating to Kony 2012 with pure intentions and bleeding hearts. Beautiful.

End fairy tale. 

Chances are, if you've seen the video, or followed the cause, you've also heard about the "Kony 2012 controversy" but may not fully understand what it is. The truth of the matter is, while the film is quite moving and hear my words: supports a good cause, in the real world, not everything is as black and white as "good guys" and "bad guys" I'm not here to tell you not to support Kony 2012, but I am here to tell you to get educated about exactly what you're supporting. Personally, I think Kony 2012 is the best solution currently available as a realistic way to aid victims of the LRA from here in America and I do financially support the cause. That said, it may not be for everyone, as each of us has different convictions, and there are serious flaws in their approach that should be addressed and taken seriously. To support the cause you must truly pick your poison.

Here are a few articles I strongly suggest you read before you decide where you want your money to go to: Stop Kony, yes. But don’t stop asking questions, We've got trouble, Invisible Children's Official Response to Critiques 

If after reading, you do not feel that you would like to support Kony 2012, there are lots of other great ways to financially aid Central Africa. Try checking out Got a better idea? for alternative charities, Kwagala Project to donate to former victims of child prostitution in Uganda, and know that there are other charities out there that can be easily uncovered, if you're willing to ask questions and do your homework.

I'm not here to tell you what to do or believe in, but I absolutely am here to spread awareness and tell you to be educated in every decision you ever make. Life is not always ever black and white, and you are responsible for knowing why you believe what you believe, and standing up for what you feel is right.

If you feel there is a stronger charity supporting the aid of LRA victims, feel free to link in the comments.


Claire Kiefer said...

I've been reading about this all day, and I'm so torn. I think, at the core, I'm grateful to Invisible Children for making billions of people aware of an issue they were previously blind to. Awareness is huge, as so many people live in safe bubbles from which they don't have to consider the outside world.

I also really think that individual people should be accountable when they support any cause, donate money, etc; they should be expected to do their research.

Ultimately, I think KONY 2012 is doing more good than harm. However, I have read the arguments against the campaign and I think they make fair points (especially about military intervention and its potential effect on children). There are tactics here that I don't really understand (I hope that, in the moment, US troops would choose not to "capture" Kony if it meant harming/killing children, although admittedly, I am ignorant about military tactics).

I'm eager to see what else comes out about it over the next few days. On another note, I'm amazed at how much of a stir this video has caused--those are some amazing marketers!

joy t. said...

Dude for some reason, the invisible children response link doesn't take me anywhere so i'm linking a response below. by the way, this response is more informed and in depth than any criticism i've seen:)
first of all, excellent blog post. second of all, do you think that certain criticisms are a result of our human need to naysay? what is that all about? i do it all the time. i'm halfway through a heated monologue about some important thing and i'm tired and my ideas are waning and it's because my argument isn't that great and i don't really care about my opinion in the topic as much as i care about the topic itself.
in the below response, i think that invisible children really explains what/who they are. they have been an operating company since i was in high school (I was in S.T.A.N.D. because i'm soooo coool). This isn't just some hopeful cracker response to a problem that no one understands, invisible children have been doing this for a long time, they understand who they are fighting and they understand their target audience. why the heck do you think that so many people own apple products? it's not because everybody knows how great they really are... which they are:) it's because apple is stinkin' cool and markets well. nobody blames apple for their ignorant consumers:) it's not about the white man's burden, invisible children knows that this is what white, passionate college students are all about and what's wrong with taking a stand. i don't get why, because i'm white, it means that if i stand for something i must just really be thinking "oh those poor little people who aren't as white or as rich as me. maybe they just need a shot. oh well i'll help because i'm awesome and a superhero and everybody look at me." while not on the same scale maybe i've been through moments where i needed support to keep living (i'm sure we all have). maybe i empathize with people who need help and see no way out. maybe this company started out naive and self inflated and maybe now it is an overinflated, under-researched political movement, but, more importantly, it can still help people and invisible children doesn't intend to make it that way. if it's under-researched it's because we aren't researching it.
But if someone wants to support, people shouldn't just assume that they are undereducated or jumping on a bandwagon. to put it simply; just educate yourselves. it doesn't have to be with this blog or some other or what your friend says. go to the source, go to the response below (which links directly to invisible children online and is incredibly thorough) and tell me if you think that it's naive or if there are misappropriated funds or whatever. don't jump on the Kony 2012 bandwagon and don't jump on the anti-Kony 2012 bandwagon. ironically enough, just because someone tells you to educate yourself, it doesn't mean that they are educated. meta-irony: maybe the last statement applies to me? ANYWAY, whether you agree or not, the thing i like about invisible children is that a large part of their budget allows for FREE awareness. their videos may not give all the facts, but they seem more than willing to provide an extensive amount of information toward any questions.


Paige Baker said...

Hey Joy, thanks for your comment - I updated the link, thanks for letting me know it was broken.

Even as a supporter of the cause, I do see bigger issues than the ones you mentioned - like supporting the Ugandan Army (which is by no means a poster child for peace and morality) and the strong ethical dilemma that's presented when the only way to get to JK, is through his solders - the children we're trying to save in the first place. Is the murder of victims ever okay, if it serves a greater good? I don't know that there's a defined answer to that - everyone is going to feel differently and I think both views are valid.

Ultimately, it comes down to what we've both repeated - each person HAS to do their research and decide (based on an educated opinion) where they draw the line in the sand. I'm not aware of any perfect solution, at this point - I think, likely, because there isn't one.

As far as the white man's burden, to be frank, fuck it. I think that (regardless of race or privilage) as human beings, we are all responsible to come together to serve a greater good. Not espcecially white people - not with the exception of white people. everyone. That argument (while it may be 5% valid) is in my mind, nitpicking, and standing in the way of ultimate justice.

Like I said, I support Invisible Children and Kony 2012, but I also see the flaws, and respect anyone who chooses not to. The only person who can be certain that they are doing the "wrong" thing, is the person who does nothing at all.