Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Kony2012/VisibleChildren

I've recently seen the Kony2012 video. For those who haven't, you can view it at kony2012.com.

And to get the other perspective of this campaign, I've read VisibleChildren.

And to quickly summarize for those who haven't time or inclination for a 30-minute video, it's about a child abductor from Uganda who takes children and adds them to his army, forcing them to kill their parents.

The organization behind Kony2012 wants to get this man, Joseph Kony, famous so everyone knows who he is so that he can be stopped, getting the United States military involved. VisibleChildren posits that involving the Ugandan army, who are corrupt and violent themselves, is not the way to do it, and that children are inevitably caught in the crossfire because that's who protects Kony.

Basically, that doing something isn't better than doing nothing. Doing nothing thus is better than doing something because the something is harmful.

I can see both sides, to be honest, but there is something that really bothers me about this and I'll try to articule it now.

I didn't know about this problem before. And now I do. Now a lot of people do. I don't see this as being a negative thing. I just don't. Children are suffering in a uniquely terrible way and that's vile. I simply cannot, as a decent person, accept that had outsiders not been made aware of this issue, that these children would be better off. If Kony2012 is not the answer, then maybe someone else may have one.

I don't. I have no answers. I'm not connected with Africa. I've never been, have no plans to go and cannot physically do a thing. I sponsor a child in Burkina Faso. That's about it, though I'm sure there's plenty of people out there who would like to take issue with this, simply because they like to poke holes through any person's and organization's attempt to help anyone. We all know these people.

I cannot fault any organization for trying to bring a man down who is ruining many people's lives, before those lives have had a chance to even begin. I think the most disturbing thing about Kony2012 is the use of a violent and corrupt army to achieve their ends. And I really feel that VisibleChildren has commented very well on that score, so I'll rely on their words to carry that message. They've said it better than I could. Read their commentary for a run-down of using the Ugandan army.

I think the most disturbing thing about VisibleChildren is their white man's burden comments.

And White Man's Burden is something I'd like to touch on. The phrase, at its core, is to do with things like, say, Reservation Schools for the first nations children. "Oh, those poor injun kids with no proper homes, let's give them the white upbringing and educate the brown right out of them." That's white man's burden and it's awful.

It's about taking another culture, one of another race if you're white, and deciding that they way they do things is unacceptable and foolish and poor and should be corrected, under your superior white supervision because it's for their own good. That is what White Man's Burden is.

Wanting to help black children who are tangibly suffering at the hands of psychos, if you happen to be white, is not White Man's Burden. Calling it WMB are cynical-type assholes who aren't doing anything themselves, finding ways to hate on people who are doing something. Adopting black children from Africa, for example, is not WMB, though I've heard it called that. It's called becoming a parent and not giving a shit if you match your adopted kid, and taking pleasure in giving another human being a chance in life.

And wanting to stop children being abducted not WMB. I mean, come on. Being anti-child abductions should be an acceptable stance to take in life. If the filmmakers were black instead of white, but still American, what would it be then? Or Asian? What if the children were white? What if this was happening in Russia? Germany? Regardless of where you were born, a person is a person and can suffer immensely and deserves assistance.

People are responding to this because as human beings it sickens them. And whatever mistakes Kony2012 is making, and using the Ugandan army could easily be a huge mistake, no doubt about it, I will not dismiss their passion by calling it WMB.

This isn't about trying to fix African culture to fit white standards. This isn't like travelling to foreign lands and making the locals reject their god in favour of Jesus. This is trying to stop a psychopath who has a lot of power and is destroying whole families and warping children and creating misery.

I support criticisms of movements. It's how you keep things clean, it's how you promote discussion and it's how new ideas are generated. But for god's sake, be a human being about it. Accept that if a white person is helping someone of another race that that is allowed. This isn't about race and being black or white, it's bigger than that. It's about children being terrorized.

That's called being human. You see suffering, you want to end it. You don't like someone's methods, call them out and help develop something better. Make suggestions. What you don't do is race-shame them into feeling silly about it and rest on your intellectual high horse and go back home to a tea and cozy book by the fire.

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