So, if you haven’t seen it by now, the Kony2012 video is EXPLODING onto the web since its March 5th release. It’s a 30-minute video that highlights some of the atrocities committed in Uganda (and surrounding countries) by Joseph Kony, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) – namely the kidnapping of children for the purposes of sex slavery, and the creation of an army. I watched the video (hesitantly at first, I admit), and it struck me as a well put-together video that was emotional, flashy, one-sided, rife with popular music, and powerful images of great numbers of supporters banding together. I was moved, and felt the need to help ‘Make Kony Famous’. I signed the pledge to do so, and I’m glad I did.

This video is being vilified and torn apart by a bazgillion* people, and it is being shared and lauded by a bazgillion* more. There are stories of people hating it, of people loving it, of people thinking it’s the greatest thing ever, and of people saying that it’s all a scam. This is what I think…

It’s a video that was made to highlight one evil, that is being perpetrated in one country, on one particular continent. The video was made in such a way as to have people take notice – mission accomplished. The makers of the video did it exactly right… they have the skills, the abilities and the funds to create something that will get the attention of the people who live in a split-second world. We are a people who get frustrated over the length of a red light. We’ll eat a half-frozen burrito because we can’t wait an extra 20 seconds for the microwave to finish. We use technology to share photos, that whip around the world in milliseconds, of what we’re having for dinner. And yet the people who made this video got a hell of a lot of us to stop and watch for 30 minutes. I say “bra-fucking-vo“. Seriously.

Because let’s be honest, I didn’t know about Joseph Kony, and I don’t know many others who did. Why not? Because there are seemingly a hundred thousand other issues out there that need our attention, our time, and our money. If you tried to focus on all the world’s problems (not SOLVE, just focus on), you’d drive yourself crazy. You’d feel never-ending strings of guilt and confusion. The human being has a brain designed for selectivity and forgetfulness. It has to, because if it didn’t, we’d all kill ourselves over the guilt of perpetual caring.

I have a right to choose who/what I support, and everyone has a right to try and get me to notice who/what THEY support. I climbed a mountain to get people to notice and donate to Delta Hospice. It worked. These Kony2012 guys made a video to get people to notice and donate to the cause to Make Kony Famous. It worked. I think they’ve done a brilliant job, because they whole damn world is talking about it now – good or bad.

One of the arguments against this campaign I’m hearing is, ‘It’s stupid! How will sharing a video, or putting up posters in my city stop Joseph Kony in Uganda?!’  Well, I guess in the same way that running a marathon cures cancer, and riding a bike cures Autism. It’s about awareness. The Kony2012 project is about making you aware of one colossal dicksmack, and doing it in a way that reaches the greatest audience. If you’re going to try and raise awareness about peanut butter, you don’t go to a wood cutters convention, do you? Kony2012 used technology and emotion to reach emotional people in a technological way.

There are a lot of people sniping about Invisible Children’s “shady” funding and expenses, and whatnot. Here then, look at this. I’ve worked for a great number of non-profits, and I volunteer for a few, as well. Here’s some news: they’re expensive to run. Being a successful non-profit doesn’t mean that you have to run the enterprise out of a rain-soaked cardboard box on the back deck, using expired stationary from defunct government programs. To run a good project, you need good people, and you need a good space. Because really, are YOU going to send your money to some back-deck, wet schmuck who asked you for a donation?

I’ve read an article or two today about people saying that we should ‘leave Africa alone’ because 1) Africa can solve its issues without help from other nations, and 2) Africa’s issues are too big and pervasive to ever stop. I’ve read articles telling me that my caring about people in countries other than my own makes me 1) unpatriotic, and 2) a perpetuate of ‘White Man’s Burden’ .

But if I walk away? if I turn my back? What will I be called then? What would YOU call me?

Damned if I care, damned if I don’t.

I feel stuck. I feel hideous. I feel guilty, and dishonorable, and used, and hated and outsmarted and tricked, and stupid, and ignorant… all because I watched a video about some dickbag on another continent, and I cared about it. Can North Americans, or Asians or Europeans solve all of Africa’s issues? Just as well as Africans can solve all the issues of the Europeans, the Asians and the North Americans, I guess. But dammit, isn’t it nice to know that someone out there actually cares?

I can’t help but be reminded of the disgusting atrocities of Rwandan genocide in the mid-90’s. In just under 3 months, almost one million Tutsi and Hutu people were slaughtered. Why so many? Because we all turned our backs. We all said, “Africa can solve its own issues… Africa’s issues are too big and too pervasive to stop…” No one cared. (I highly recommend reading Shake Hands with The Devil, by Romeo Dallaire)

Well *I* care. I care, and I will in no way feel guilty that I do. I’ll share a video, I’ll give my time to Hospice, and I’ll foster dogs for the Border Collie Rescue. I’ll listen when others speak, and I’ll make up my own damn mind about how I feel about the issues that matter so much to them that they feel a need to tell me all about it. And I won’t feel guilty. No matter WHAT I decide to care for, or care about.

And neither should you.


*Bazgillion may or may not be a real number