opposing viewpoint to KONY 2012

I’m excited about this today because people are talking about Joseph Kony, the atrocities being carried out in Uganda and various parts of Africa, and differing viewpoints regarding what can and should be done to help.  In response to my Facebook post about KONY 2012 yesterday, someone posted the following link which takes an opposing view:

Visible Children

I read through that article and having carefully considered both sides of the argument.  I think it’s a very helpful link in terms of encouraging examination of what is going on with KONY 2012 and the real issue about what to do about solving the problem, which is that there is an evil man and his army harming children, using them, and killing many people including children.  Here is my rebuttal to the article:

1.  “Last year, the organization [KONY 2012] spent $8,676,614. Only 32% went to direct services…”  I believe this is a misleading statistic.  I know a bit about non-profit orgs, overhead, and expense ratios, having been very involved in Rotary and some other orgs.  We are not talking about, for example, a water well project in a third-world country, whereby ideally we want 100 cents on the dollar to go to labor & supplies for actually building a well.  As my 9th grader was smart enough to point out, KONY 2012’s goal is to RAISE AWARENESS about Joseph Kony.  The project itself is essentially a big advertising campaign.  Advertising, for many non-profits, would typically be considered “overhead”, not a service, so donation dollars going toward advertising might be considered a less “pure” form of giving.  This is different.  KONY 2012 has people on staff who need to travel around and get their message out; they need to run ads, put up posters, make videos, etc. in order to fulfill their mission.  It’s apples and oranges compared to something like giving food to the hungry. Thus, I’m not caring so much about overhead ratios.  

2.  I sent KONY 2012 $60 for two “action kits”, which include things like t-shirts, posters and bracelets with logos about this awareness campaign.  That stuff is not free.  The organizers of the movement are not somehow getting rich off my $60.

3.  By getting my daughter (and myself) action kits, I just sent a powerful message to her that (a) I support her caring attitude and she is being heard by adults who matter to her, and (2) we don’t just click “like” about something on Facebook, we take postive steps to get involved in issues that we are passionate about, because that’s the way we roll.  What would it say if I simply sent her that article and told her, “oh, we can’t support that because some other people oppose it”?  First, that would kind of crush her spirit.  Second, it would encourage her to see obstacles to activism instead of thinking globally and actively.  I did send her the link above and encouraged her to read it and think about it, so that she knows we do not blindly support things without thinking them through.  Therefore, I also empowered her to decide for herself the best way to approach the issue.  Who knows, maybe in the future she will change her thinking, but that is now up to her.

4. “The group is in favour of direct military intervention, and their money supports the Ugandan government’s army and various other military forces.”  True.  I don’t typically support military intervention.  However, Joseph Kony has an army, and armies sometimes need to be met by opposing armies, not just diplomats, in cases like this where previous negotiated cease-fires have routinely been ignored by Kony.

5. “The issue with taking out a man who uses a child army is that his bodyguards are children. Any effort to capture or kill him will almost certainly result in many children’s deaths…”  That sounds horrible, truly; however, THE CHILDREN ARE DYING ANYWAY.  WATCH THE KONY 2012 VIDEO!  The boy that is interviewed would rather die than go on living in that hell, because he is virtually certain to die as a victim of Kony OR if co-opted by Kony.  Taking action oppose Kony militarily at least gives the people hope and helps them fight back. 

6.  “Kony is no longer active in Uganda and hasn’t been since 2006…”  WATCH THE KONY 2012 VIDEO.  It clearly explains why Kony is not in Uganda.  He simply changed his tactics and is running and hiding.  For now.  He will just go back, or really wherever he wants, to kill more, if not chased down.  Doing nothing remains the worst option.

7. ““There’s also something inherently misleading, naive, maybe even dangerous, about the idea of rescuing children or saving of Africa. […] It hints uncomfortably of the White Man’s Burden.”  Really now?  Oh, I could come up with some well reasoned, erudite response to that, but I’m running short of time now, so I will sum up my rebuttal this way:  PHILOSOPHICAL BULLSHIT!  What a freakin’ copout.  Try telling my impassioned daughter she shoud worry more about the “White Man’s Burden”.  Good luck with that.  She will roll her eyes at you and tune you out.  Whereas, with her approach, she is caring and doing something, which means telling people about Joseph Kony!  What you then choose to do or not to do about it is your business.

On balance, I support my daughter in her support of KONY 2012.



About goldenbearflyer

Robert Martz is a writer who doesn't make any money writing, so he keeps a day job in finance. He lives and works in Walnut Creek, CA. He began blogging in 2011 as a way of taking responsibility for and finding a place to put his thoughts and feelings. He loves to eat, cook, and travel. He volunteers, practices yoga, runs, bicycles, hikes, and explores nature with passion and a child-like sense of wonder. He is inspired by his amazing friends, doers and other writers. Check out another of his blogs at http://goldenbearflyer.webnode.com/.
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2 Responses to opposing viewpoint to KONY 2012

  1. Don’t forget, the US currently has troops in the region training the locals to hunt Kony and his army. Good old Rush came out against the US deployment because Kony is a good Christian out fighting the horrible Muslims in the Sudan.

    • Thank you for reading my post. I do hope people talk and think more about this whole issue, no matter what viewpoint they take. Mainly right now I’m just proud of Lara for caring about what is going on. I will continue to read up more on the pros and cons of the various strategies being used to deal with Kony. I know the U.S. has troops there (to my knowledge they are being deployed as “advisors”, but I’m not entirely sure what that practically means), and I know U.S. involvement is not “new”. Certainly I have concerns about our government’s involvement in general, just based on my belief that we tend to f*** things up at times. Again, bottom line, I think doing something is better than nothing.

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