Of dictators, documentaries and doing something – questions I have

By Ruth Limkin

I’ve watched Kony 2012. It’s very impressive story telling, brilliant social advocacy and an issue worth creating awareness about.

The film was squarely aimed at the west, tapping into common concerns about isolation, distraction and world weariness and in its place, offering connection, attention and hope. It’s a good thing to get shaken out of our self-centred complacency and the current campaign is a reminder of how quickly social media can galvanise huge numbers of people.

What exactly is it galvanising people to do though?

Most of us want to ‘do something’. We want to right the wrongs, change the world, make a difference and fight injustice. That’s all good. I encourage that.

My caution comes when my need to ‘do something’ ends up taking precedence over ‘doing a good thing’.

Rarely are there simple answers to suffering and poverty. Good-intentioned but under-informed people often get it devastatingly wrong when they try to help. (This article highlights just how very wrong it can go. You should read it.)

We live with privilege and so we carry a responsibility. The responsibility includes acting with wisdom.

Kony 2012 has deeply stirred our emotions but strength of feelings only take us so far.

Kony 2012 has taken a big, messy, hard to understand issue and somewhat focused it, but simple answers are not the goal – sustained, strategic, effective responses are.

I’m sincerely glad that Kony 2012 has raised awareness of this tragedy, however, I’m not (yet) prepared to accept the film’s prescription for the problem.

What if, in reducing complex problems to simple slogans, we fail to develop comprehensive solutions? I have no idea how effective it will be to have 100 American military advisors in Uganda. Being foreign to the environment, terrain and culture, how much help will they be helping Ugandan locals track down a murderous killer? (Playing in someone else’s backyard didn’t work out too well in Vietnam.)

In fact, from what I can find, Kony isn’t operating in Uganda anymore, but in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I’m not sure what jurisdiction the Ugandan army have there? Do you?

There’s a lot I don’t know about this issue. That’s precisely why I have so many questions.

Africa’s pain has captured a place in our hearts, and for the moment, in our Facebook and Twitter feeds. I pray it doesn’t go to waste, because Africa deserves better than an idea whose time has come. It deserves an idea that works.



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4 thoughts on “Of dictators, documentaries and doing something – questions I have

  1. This will never reign more true than it does now as we turn to a world so eager to aid based on the bias, lack of information that a promotional MTV’like video that went viral on the 6-7th March presented.

    This was well written and definitely with a more deeper underlying message, only those not shadowed by the recent virus of Kony 2012 fan clubs will come to understand.

    I completely agree with you & good on you for writing about it on your blog site.

  2. I hear what you are saying Ruth, but I have to say I am for these guys. I first watched Invisible Children many years ago. A bunch of school kids saw something that they thought was wrong – a social injustice that was hidden from the world. They told a story – not about poverty but about children being forced into being soldiers and killing their parents and committing other horrors.

    These school kids did not stop at just the movie, they went back and set up safe places for these child soldiers to go. From the Kony 2012 video I see they have done more practical things such as early warning systems and such. They are improving lives of children that the world ignored. This is not slactivism – this is real, life threatening work for good and I praise them for it.

    Because I am not doing it.

    Thank the Lord for people who do something. And if they have to tell a story that is moving and edited with haunting music to move our hearts then that’s what they have to do it. Because trust me, I come from an Africa that is nowhere near as dark as Jacob’s – and you don’t want to see the raw footage that hasn’t been edited down and given the theme tune.

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