What do I think about Kony2012 and Invisible Children? I think I’m not an expert, and neither are you, so let’s all stop acting like we are. With that being said, I’m probably not going to address what you want me to. I’m not going to say what the solution is and I’m not going to attempt to tell you what you should do, because the truth is, I don’t know. But I do have some thoughts to share. People will always go with what is popular, until that popular thing becomes too popular, and then it’s not cool to agree with it so we have to start criticizing it. That’s the system, that’s what we do. Wherever you are on that spectrum right now think my thoughts will apply equally.
1) We need to stop judging people that are doing something, when we are doing nothing. So the founders of IC make $80,000 a year. That’s sounds like a lot to us average college-aged 20-somethings, yes. But it’s not that much. And regardless of that, the job they do is worth the cash they make. This organization started out with three guys and a camera and now they are bringing in (and sending out) millions a year. That’s a big deal. They have reeled in Oprah, Ellen, Bill Clinton, George Cloony, Rihanna, and numerous other celebrities and public officials. They have raised awareness, they have raised money, and they have brought about change. They are good at what they do. Let them have their paycheck. There is this thing in our culture that says anyone can make a lot of money except for humanitarians. I’ve encountered this personally with my fundraising ventures and work in Uganda. I can live a private life and spend as much money on anything that I want, but as soon as I ask people to consider supporting a project of mine, I can’t spend money on Starbucks, or (God forbid) new shoes. I’m a missionary, I’m a humanitarian, so I should be wearing potato sacks and going barefoot and giving away every last penny I have. It’s not fair.
As a person who has given every last penny she has to a cause she very much believes in, I want to say to the average person, YOU HAVE NO CLUE WHAT ALL GOES IN TO HEADING UP A PROJECT LIKE THIS. You have no idea what kind of a personal and emotional toll it can take to deal with everything that goes on. So let the men have their money, they are good at what they do. A best selling author or a platinum selling artist, etc is not criticized for their paycheck, let a good non-profit leader have the paycheck they deserve.
Don’t want to give to Invisible Children? Fine. Get in touch with me for a listof organizations and people who are on the ground in Uganda. I have seen them, have worked side by side with them, and have seen the fruit of their projects.
2) We need to stop blindly throwing money at projects without knowing where the money is going. No, something is not always better than nothing. That attitude a lot of times ends up hurting the people we are trying to help. I’ve been there and seen it happen. Doesn’t this contradict point #1? No? See point three:
3) Social media is how our generation changes the world, it’s what we do. Isn’t it good that we’re raising awareness and talking about these issues, etc etc etc.
I agree with all of these types of comments. But social media and it’s positives cannot be where we stop. Social media is an incredible tool that needs to be used but it’s also something that is enabling our generation to be lazy. Humanitarian organizations are almost becoming consumer-driven. Whoever can convince us they’re worthy of our money, gets it. We know a little about everything so we don’t have to know very much about anything. We are passionate about whatever cool cause comes along today but tomorrow we’re on to the next thing. We dabble in 100 different causes because this one came out with the coolest video or this one has the trendy catch phrase and has our attention for the moment, but we’re not dedicated to bringing about change. We can retweet and repost and we feel good because we’re uniting to change the world, except we’re not. Some of us are, yes, but most of us aren’t.
Retweeting and reposting, status updates and online petitions- these are all extremely valuable things, but only if there is true passion behind them. We think passion means wearing the t-shirt, posting a status, maybe even making a donation. That’s not passion, anyone can do that about anything. Passion is when you are so moved by something that you will do anything you can to change it. Passion generally moves you to take initiative. Change only comes when people are burdened for a cause or burdened with an idea and are dedicated to seeing it happen. And for my generation, I’m afraid that most of us aren’t.
IC is doing a great job and raising a ton of awareness on this issue in Uganda, but only because three guys were burdened for a cause and decided that they were going to create change. They are helping the rest of us know how to get involved and us getting involved is great. But what our world really needs is more people burdened about a specific issue and deciding to create change. Otherwise we just have a bunch of organizations spending a bunch of money on getting our attention. I know this because it is part of the type of things I’ve been doing for the last four years. You have to put together a good presentation to draw people in, you have to send out reminders to people to send money so they don’t forget, you have to take pictures and update your blog so that people will stay connected to you and your organization. You have to prove that you are worthy of people’s time and money. That’s just how it is, I get that, that’s how it works.
I’m a dreamer, I know, but I can’t help but think ‘what if’. What if people were so burdened for a cause that they didn’t have to be reminded to mail in a check but they had been thinking of the cause so much that they couldn’t wait to mail that check? What if people were so burdened for a cause that they reposted the video, yes, but they couldn’t stop there, they had to get out and do more? What if we stopped being consumers when it comes to doing good? What if we stopped trying to make it easy for people to get involved by presenting ways that they can donate without having to make much of a sacrifice? What if changing the world was actually a challenge that required real sacrifice…and so the people that were involved were 100% dedicated and the ones that weren’t up for that could get out of the way? I understand ‘that’s just not how it is’. I understand that the system is broken. But I’ve never been one to be completely complacent with working in a broken system. Manuver the system and get as much good as you can out of it- go post the video again, ask your friends to get involved, repost another article…these things help and we need to be involved in this. Let’s stop Kony, by any means necessary. But let’s also look at fixing the broken system, because there are a thousand Kony’s in our world today, and they all need to be stopped.
This war has been going on for 26 years. For 26 years little boys and girls have been kidnapped, beaten, raped, forced to kill, told that they are nothing and no one will ever love them. 26 years. And now it’s a cool and trendy thing to unite and fight this battle so NOW we’re all on board. That’s great. It’s about time. But what other wars are just starting? What other evils are being done right now that no one knows about? What are we ignoring right now because no one has had time to make an appealing presentation about it yet? DONT WAIT another 26 years to find about about these unseen evils happening today. GO DO SOMETHING. Let’s go out and find those things. Let’s not let little girls in India be raped for another 26 years before we help them. Let’s not let millions starve in North africa for another 10 years until some celebrity happens to pass thru on their vacation and take notice. Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do. YOU go find something that YOU can be passionate about today and be so burdened by it that you can’t help but to get dedicated, to stick with it until REAL change has been brought about.
Real change starts with YOU. Go make something happen.