Make Kony famous
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- I shared this video because it raises awareness about Kony and the issues facing the people of Uganda and elsewhere. Here are some of my thoughts about the issue and some of the criticism that is going around. I do not claim to be an expert on the subject - in fact far from - but I did do some research before I posted the link and some more since. It is for people to make up their own mind and for them to decide whether this is something they believe they want to share or not.
Kony is an evil man. I don't think there is any dispute (amongst civilized people) of that fact. This is a man that is evil in the same ways that Hitler was evil, although thankfully he does not have the kind of power that Hitler did. The atrocities that are done because of his direction are truly awful.
I don't know whether the situation is truly as bad as depicted in the video, or whether it has got better in recent years as others are suggesting. The fact that it has happened and that it has not yet stopped is enough to say that this needs to continue.
Kony needs to be stopped. Some may seek retribution and I can certainly understand that victims will be looking for retribution against him, but I think we can all agree that putting a stop to the atrocities should be the first objective.
I do not believe the problems for the people of Uganda are as simple as arresting one person. Neither are they just about fighting an army, especially one where the army is a child army made up of victims of the evil regime. A video designed to capture the interest of the general public needs to shown that this is an issue that can have a resolution - or at least a starting point to that end. It is up to the politicians with their legal advisers that need to decide what is ultimately the best course of action. That is also the message I would like to see in response from the politicians (of all nations) in providing a commitment to provide an appropriate response.
It is very rare that I have felt the need to contact my own parliamentary representatives. The importance is in making them aware what your views are and that any future votes they may receive depend upon whether they represent your interests or beliefs. That is the basis of a democratic system.
Whilst many of the motivations of government are often more interested in policies that will impact their own country directly I don't believe it's fair to say that governments are not interested in the plight of others. At least in the UK (and admittedly the video is actually targetted at the US government) the government does provide aid to other countries including financial and military if appropriate. I do think it is useful to tell them that, we the people that they represent, believe they should be acting to defend others around the world even if there is no further benefit than knowing you did the right thing (perhaps the most important benefit in itself).
What about giving a donation?
I've not made a donation to the organisation, nor do I intend to. That does not necessarily mean I disagree with the aims of the organisation or how it uses it's funds (of which I am do not know the full information). I am sharing the video to raise awareness which in itself is a useful tool. I do give to charities, but normally (not always) to charities that are directly involved in adressing problems (although some include lobbying as one of their methods see later*). Also this organisation is about lobbying the US government whereas if I was to join a campaign in more than raising awareness then I would look for one that targeted my own government which should be interested in my views as a citizen.
A criticism I have read is that the money is going to support paid staff and the making of videos, for publicity and raising awareness rather than actually doing anything directly. I don't know the full details of the amount of money that is raised or the salaries that these are being paid, but I know first hand from being a volunteer within an organisation that also has a lot of paid staff that salaried staff are an increasing part of many not for profit organisations whether we like that or not. In addition I think it was obvious from the video when he referred to this as his job that he must be being paid for doing this work and have his travel funded from somewhere, I assumed that was from donations and fundraising (although others may not make the same connection). I don't know how much he is paid, I hope that those that are in a non-profit organisation take no more than an equivalent role would pay in a commercial organisation. I don't have the details to know if that is the case or not.
On the basis of used to make videos etc. then if the objectives of the organisation is to make people aware of the issues and to lobby governments then that is what I expect them to be doing. Publicity and lobbying is certainly a core objective of some other organisations (eg. Human Rights organisations). Lobbying governments is also a small aspect of some of the charities that I do support through regular financial donations (eg. health related issues and child protection issues).
As others have said think before you donate to this (as you should with any other charity*) whether this is a cause you truly support, whether they are spending the money in a way that you approve of and whether this is the best charity for you to give to. That does not mean you should not give to charity, or should not give to charities that have paid staff (almost all big charities do) as long as the staff are serving the interests and aims of the charity and not their own financial interests.
I won't be going around putting posters up. My media of choice when stating my opinion is the Internet. I believe the Internet, especially with the social media of the 21st century is capable of getting the word out better than posters that most will ignore. Especially as there is so little space for sticking up posters when signposts are already cluttered with posters about a circus that was months ago, work from home schemes promising £thousands per week and political posters (around the time of elections). I don't think we need more junk graffiti littering our streets.
What I do think is that people should be aware of what is going on around the world and that as one living in a country with a privileged lifestyle it is our social responsibility as a nation to help stop suffering for others that are not in such as privileged position. This campaign, and many others like it, highlight these issues, make the people more aware and raise the political agenda.
During the recent campaigns on copyright laws and Internet freedoms (SOCA, PIPA and for Europeans ACTA) there have been people objecting to the use of the Internet to drum up support of large number of people to lobby government. But that is exactly what I believe a democratic society should be doing. The government should serve the wishes of the people that they serve and if public support is given towards creating justice in the world then that is something that I would see as being a good thing. Ironically those arguing against the public that came together against the US Internet censorship proposals where the people that had in the past successfully lobbied governments through financial contributions to have laws enacted in their own commercial interests. If the social media manages to shift power to the public away from the corporations financial lobbying then that would be a great thing for democracy.
That power of the social media does however need for the people to understand properly before they respond, which is unfortunately not necessarily the case, as we often see hoaxes (often obvious ones) which spread around the Internet incredibly quickly. One of the criticisms I would have against the video is that it is very one sided.
As I said at the beginning I did look at some of the other arguments and did think about it before deciding to post the link. I do think that others need to do likewise make up their own mind.
The one thing that this has done is raise awareness which I think is a good thing. As they say time will tell. I hope for the people of Uganda that this can be stopped.
* Note that in this case this is a US not for profit organisation. I have referred to charities when comparing with what charities in the UK do. I don't know what/if there is a legal difference between a not for profit and a charity in the US. In the UK there are specific laws governing the use of charity funds, but I don't know how stringent those laws may be in the US.Mar 8, 2012