This Is Not a Post About Kony 2012
Well, it kind of is. It kind of isn’t. This is a post about a lot of things.
I’ve been familiar with Invisible Children for several years, I even participated in their The Rescue protest in Pittsburgh back in 2009 (pictures are here). Without IC I wouldn’t even be aware of Kony’s crimes or the ongoing conflict in Africa.
I don’t claim to be an expert on the civil wars and displacements going on half a world away. I don’t think that, because I showed up at an event and sat around for a few hours, I really changed anything. It was something I felt I wanted to participate in, and I don’t regret it.
One of the biggest criticisms I’ve seen, though, is from people saying “Thanks to Invisible Children, privileged kids are watching a 30 minute video and thinking they know everything about the situation.”
I’m sorry. That isn’t the fault of Invisible Children. That is the fault OF OUR FUCKING CULTURE.
We live in a culture where we all truly believe we can become experts in something overnight, that we should be handed all the information we could ever need immediately and have our decisions made for us. This is not isolated to global events or situations. We have been trained to expect simple answers with simple solutions. That is what breeds a culture where we really think we could understand all of the nuances of a major political conflict because of a 30 minute YouTube video.
This brings up a much bigger concern about our culture: we have no drive to learn. We have no drive to inform ourselves of something further, we for some reason believe that everything should be right there on the surface for us and we have no need/reason to do our own further research. We live in a culture that asks “if it’s not easy for us to do/grasp, then why the hell are you even presenting it to us?”
This drives us towards a tendency to ignore nuances. It means we are failing to teach people about grey areas of morality…which, let’s face it, are 99% of what we deal with on a day to day basis. We expect anything to be easy or hard, good or bad, black or white, and when it’s not? We can’t process it, we shut down. We assume that because someone has pointed out a flaw in something we like/support, that means we are calling it all together bad and, by extension, anyone who supports it is bad. This is not healthy. This is not an attitude that will lead to a good future for us.
Look, I’m not saying IC is right, there’s certainly a lot of genuine concerns that have been raised about the organization. If you choose to support them or not, that’s your call. I’m not saying any organization out there, no matter how well-intentioned, is 100% right. What I am saying is that we need to look at the deeper problem in our culture, explore how to remedy it and not simply go on the attack. We need to relearn a love of information, ignore the “with us or against us” mentality of the past 11 or so years and do what we can to move us back towards a culture that is capable of questioning, challenging and making individual decisions.