This is about the Kony 2012 campaign video by Invisible Children that went viral on Tuesday.

Most of you have probably already seen it as the hashtag trended and it was reposted by millions on Facebook and who knows what other social media.
I did it.  I watched it.  Reacted emotionally and reposted it without knowing anything about the issue, the organization or their operations.
I thought “wow, I’ll show this to my grade 8s and what a great discussion we’ll have, what a teachable moment.”  
Yes it’s a teachable moment for sure but I’ll be approaching it a little differently than I was thinking right after I watched it.  You see, I didn’t think critically about it at all and critical thinking is what I feel is the main purpose of education.  Ouch!
My friend Tammy started me thinking when she posted a few links to blogs and tweets that opened my eyes about how naively and emotionally I was thinking (or not thinking).  These links led to information about the organization.  Information that would have made me think twice before sharing the video.
For example, most of the money raised by Invisible Children goes to executive salaries and movie making expenses. OK, that’s par for the course with a lot of charities.  Worse, they are funding the Ugandan government which has used the same tactics as Kony’s militia uses.  Rape, pillage, child soldiers, etc.
Then I read a blog post by Shelley Wright at Wright’s room.  I’ve been reading her blog for a long time.  I respect her.  A lot.  What really struck me in her post was her reference to how this smacks of colonialism.  Rich white guys over simplifying a problem and trying to “fix” it through military force and trying to force politicians in Washington to intervene.  We all know what the history of Western intervention has led to in the past.  
I still don’t know if Kony 2012 is good, bad or in between.  I couldn’t possibly understand the issues in just a few hours of online research.
I’ll let you do further research if you wish to.  This is a good place to start.  
The real point of this post is that I did not think at all.  I shared something on Facebook based on my emotional reaction and felt like I was doing something.  I wasn’t.  I am a slacktivist.  So basically I’m promoting something I knew nothing about.  I certainly would not have shared had I known that some of the money supports a military that rapes, kidnaps and murders its citizens.
Slactivists don’t walk the walk.  I talk the talk and I shuffle a bit.  I repost things.  I tweet.  I compost.  I buy some used clothing (but I also buy new clothes made in Asia that likely are made by children).  I own gadgets that have diamond products in them from Africa, slave labour.  
What makes this doubly sad is that I have a Political Science degree.
Double Ouch.
Mea Culpa.
  • Lance

    Is anyone keeping in mind the fact that “Kony” hasn’t been in action for over 6 years?
    Also, there is no proof that he is even in Uganda any more?
    They have NO clue where this man is, there are other men out there doing the exact same thing Kony has been doing. Finding this one man will not stop child slavery. It’s a horrible thing to happen to a human being. I never experienced it personally so i can only imagine.
    However, shouldn’t all this money be spent on helping these children get their lives back? or at least build a better one?
    Spending money on the military that has already committed the same crimes as Kony seems redundant. I mean, even Hitler build hospitals, school, business’s and all kinds of other things. (Not that i am defending him.)
    In any case, as moved as i was by the little movie, and the man using his child to soften the world. (Innocence of a child is a common tool) i still think there is far too many things that just don’t add up.

  • Tracey

    That’s ALL good!! 🙂

  • Erin Little

    I’m not beating myself up over it, but I do want to learn a lesson from it and use it as a teaching tool. After all learning from our mistakes is a big part of our growth.
    Of concern to me, and what I need to research more, is the money. If you read what some of the people on the ground in Uganda say, the money is better spent on building school and hospitals and infrastructure. Yes Kony is evil but he’s not in Uganda anymore and his army is dwindling.
    Anyway, I’d like to know more before I share and expecially before I buy bracelets or donate money.

  • Tracey

    Thanks for posting this, Erin.
    I didn’t re-post the first link that went viral… the man is pure evil – absolutely, without question, and he must be stopped (I hope he will be caught and tried) but that video does over-simplify the problem(s) and yes, sadly, the whole thing does smack of colonialism and the Big White Hope.
    That said, it would be impossible for anyone anywhere to view the Kony 2012 video and not weep for these children – we would all be heartless souls indeed – and it was presented in exactly the right way to tug at people’s heartstrings. It just doesn’t give enough information. What information is does provide makes it very easy for people to want to spring into action, driven by horror, without knowing enough.
    Don’t beat yourself up about it though – it’s not as if someone is trying to pull the wool over the world’s eyes in an evil way. I don’t know enough. Most of us don’t. But no one wants to see children used as pawns… c’est complique. Ack.

  • Sara

    I totally agree with you Erin – I shared it, almost bought a freaking bracelet – the whole nine yards. And now, I’ve read a ton as well – BUT I would still share the video because it made a ton of people aware of who he is. I heard a woman on Metro Morning who runs a grass roots charity to send former child soldiers to school – and the interviewer said ‘has this been positive – this whole Kony2012’ – and she said ‘well i’m here aren’t I’. Now you have two teachable moments…GREAT POST!

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