Editor’s Note: This comment, from Lex Steppling, was shared with us via Facebook. In the statements below, Lex is responding to the sentiments Gotham Chopra posted earlier today about the backlash against the new documentary, Kony 2012. If you are not familiar with the film, Kony 2012 was created by the US-based charity organization Invisible Children. The goal of the film is to launch a widespread social media campaign that raises awareness about the crimes of former dictator and leader of the LRA, Joseph Kony.
In the first 24 hours of its release, the film has provoked enthusiastic and angry condemnation alike. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. We will continue to update this post with insights from the Intentblog community as they come in.
I don’t want to try and analyze this (situation) in any kind of binary context. I do appreciate and applaud the well thought out and difficult work being done by people around the world. Genocide in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda does need to be talked about, and the complexity of such conflicts should be engaged. That is not, in my opinion over-intellectualizing.
Western-based non-governmental organizations have done some great work, but they have also been a huge part of the problem. Rigorous dialogue about these questions is essential, and a promising development that the internet has facilitated. To ask such questions and to be critical is far from elitist. Kony 2012 is purposely simplifying and making spectacle of a set of problems in order to illicit a response with what I’m absolutely sure are the best set of intentions. (The) fact is, it is easier to get a grant in order to help “Africa” than it is to do most other human development work. I put Africa in quotations because I feel it has become an abstract synonym for humanitarianism.
There are problems there, many of which are brought up in this article. International solidarity work is very important. People are good, and want to see a peaceful and compassionate world, and that is a struggle I can’t imagine not lending myself to. I do think however, that if and when we choose to do global work in a specific and linear fashion, that we better make sure that we are indeed helping. There are groups of people in all countries that may have thought of it already and could really use some help, rather than an external savior. Goodness is not simply a Western virtue, an idea that I find implicit in the Kony 2012 campaign.