Before you read this, let me be clear. I am not going to tell you to support Kony 2012, or to fight against them. That is your decision to make, and I hope after reading this, you will make that decision well, with the proper information. If you want my personal opinions, email me and we'll talk.
If you haven't heard of Kony 2012 yet, you either have been living under a rock, or your internet was down. Kony 2012 has been one of the most viral internet phenomenons this year.
An online video drawing attention to the case of alleged war criminal Joseph Kony has gone viral, and provoked lively debate over the activities of the US-based group that made it.
The 30-minute film, which calls for the Ugandan rebel leader to be arrested, had attracted more than 15 million views by Thursday, just three days after it was uploaded.
KONY 2012 was posted by Invisible Children, a US non-profit organisation based in San Diego, California, but with offices in northern Uganda, where Kony's Lord's Resistance Army has waged an armed campaign for more than two decades.
Kony, who started an armed rebellion against the Ugandan government in the late 1980s, has been accused of abducting and forcing children to join the LRA, charges that led to his indictment by the International Criminal Court in 2005.
[Invisible Children] has been accused of spending much of the money it raises from donors on staff renumeration and filmmaking, and Navigator, a US watchdog charity, has previously given it two out of four stars for financial transparency and accountability.
One viewer of the film posted that people should "think twice before donating to KONY 2012".
To say there has been a little backlash is an understatement. Numerous articles and blog posts have condemned the video, and called out Invisible Children on key issues. The debate is huge. Is the Kony 2012 campaign just a way for a bunch of guys masquerading as an NGO to make a quick buck off of an already defeated foe?
There are a bewildering number of articles and stats out there, and it's very difficult to sort through them all. Neither side of the argument can be ignored.
Like I said in a facebook comment of mine, I'll be the first to admit I knew nothing about Invisible Children, the LRA, or what happened in Uganda, and I'd probably even be hard pressed to point out Uganda on a map. I got caught up in the emotion of the campaign.
In a world were it's so difficult to really affect the outcome of anything this important, people turn to group actions. Sometimes, it's to fit in with a trend, and sometimes just to ease their guilt, but sometimes I think it's because they are helpless to do anything else.
Whether or not you are for or against Kony 2012, you can't deny the fact that far more people know about Joseph Kony than before. Unfortunately, the majority of people spreading the campaign are doing so in ignorance. Some argue that aiding Invisible Children could do far more harm than good.
Military intervention may or may not be the right idea, but people supporting KONY 2012 probably don’t realize they’re supporting the Ugandan military who are themselves raping and looting away. If people know this and still support Invisible Children because they feel it’s the best solution based on their knowledge and research, I have no issue with that. But I don’t think most people are in that position, and that’s a problem. - Visible Children
While I'm not sure what to do about it, it's very clear to me that we can't just do nothing.
The more I educate myself on all the topics surrounding the debate, the less I feel inclined to aid Kony 2012. However, at the same time, I feel like I can't not aid something! My initial support for the campaign was born out of passion and emotion, to do something, anything, to help victims in Uganda. I posted to both facebook and twitter,
Few things in could be as important in your lifetime as this - I know we can't stand behind every great cause, but I choose this one. KONY 2012.
I would like now to officially retract that statement. I still believe few issues could be as important as this. I still believe we can't stand behind every great cause. I still choose to support this one, just not through Kony 2012.
One of the many counter Kony 2012 arguments out there [this one, in case you're interested] listed four NGOs who already working in Uganda who have excellent reputations, and are not interested in supporting war efforts to take down the LRA. I haven't decided which yet, but I am going to financially support one of these NGOs for a period of one year, based upon research I plan to do. If after the research, I am not satisfied with any of those four, I will look further.
Once again I'll say it; it is very difficult to decide what the best course of action is, but we can't just do nothing.
I don't care if you support Kony 2012, or you are vehemently against it. I do care if you hold either of those opinions in ignorance. Please, educate yourself before making a decision. Read as much as you can before making a decision to support either side.
Here are some good places to get started.