Answers I’ve found – of dictators, documentaries and doing something

By Ruth Limkin

(This is a follow up post to this morning’s article).

Between Kony 2012, International Women’s Day and the new Ipad, I thought the internet might implode today. Happily it didn’t. I also thought I was possibly about to become ‘writer much hated’ when I posted this morning about Kony 2012. Happily, that doesn’t seem to have happened either (unless you’re just ignoring me now).

I had a lot of questions about Kony 2012, and the absence of answers was a great discomfort.

I care passionately about helping the poor, but I care even more passionately about being wise in the way we help. The bottom line is that no matter how much we care, under-informed action can end up harming the most vulnerable.

Acknowledging that misguided action can harm isn’t negative – it’s one of the most loving and merciful things we can do. Otherwise, you see situations like this which I linked to earlier – where children end up being killed or maimed from explosive devices, because the humanitarian packs distributed by air were the same colour and same size as the bombs that scattered the landscape.

It’s vital that aid and advocacy come from well-researched positions, which partner with local communities wherever possible.

If we’re going to mobilise a global voice, at the very least, let us know that you have more to your strategy than good storytelling.

That’s why I was so pleased to read this response from Invisible Children to the questions they are getting, and most importantly, why I was particularly thrilled to read this research report which they linked to.

On page 12, it reads, “The deployment, and the substantial international press it received, has given a boost of momentum to regional counter-LRA efforts plagued by lack of cooperation and waning commitment from the governments of Uganda, CAR, Congo, and South Sudan. It has also spurred the African Union (AU) and UN to redouble their efforts to address the cross-border threat posed by the LRA.”

That’s good news. Actually, that’s really great news. Regional cooperation is the only thing that will work in the end. Let’s see it continue and Stop Kony.

Let’s also use this moment of awareness to motivate us to do more than just retweet or share something on Facebook. Let’s do more than hang up posters on one night of the year for one (very noble) cause. Let’s use it reorganise our lifestyle to one of wise and caring action. After all, self-centredness or ambivilence will never stop Kony, and it will certainly never change the world.

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ruth@ruthlimkin.com

One thought on “Answers I’ve found – of dictators, documentaries and doing something

  1. Ruth, thank you for this article, which is a breath of fresh air compared with much of the sentiment I’ve seen and heard from all sides of the Kony debate.

    I wholeheartedly agree that “acknowledging that misguided action can harm isn’t negative – it’s one of the most loving and merciful things we can do.”

    However, I’ve felt quite uneasy reading *some* of the backlash against Invisible Children and the Kony video this week, which I do believe has been quite negative. Many have skipped straight past acknowledging facts and asking questions, provoking some rather malicious and poorly researched accusations, that have been circulating around the internet. I even read one person claiming that IC will “probably spend 80% of your donations on their own salaries”. After reading the response from IC you’ve posted here, I’d say that’s unlikely.

    Others criticisms I’ve seen appear to be backed with good research and written by well-informed individuals, but impose unrealistically high expectations and are condescending toward people who actually care, but just don’t know how to begin to make a difference.

    It particularly saddened me to see one blogger suggest that I’m doing something wrong if I have time to watch a 30 minute video but not to read a 34 page report (which would take me far more than 30 minutes to read and probably another 3 hours understand, and therein lies the genius of the Kony video). We all have a different part to play. Not everyone is an expert and not everyone is called to go to Africa or work for an aid organisation.

    I wonder how many of the experts who have publicly spoken out against IC have bothered to try and get in touch with the organisation and say, “Hey, nice try guys, but here’s a few suggestions on how research and experience shows you could be more effective…” They seem to be quite open to any such communications.

    Publicly pulling down the good intentions of others, without making any constructive attempt at addressing the issue, is negative, and sadly I’ve seen a lot of that this week.

    Thanks again for helping to clear up some of the facts here, for those of us who were also asking questions but didn’t quite know where to look.

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