Edmund Burke famously said, “All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.” An exemplary quote to live by but I think it needs a little adjustment: “All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for well-informed good men (and women!) to do nothing.” Even good intentions can be misappropriated if they are not backed by education. As is evidenced by the Kony 2012 phenomenon, propaganda should not come before research, and action should not come before investigation.
By now you’ve probably seen the Kony video. If not, I think it’s time. Even if you don’t agree with it, it’s only fair that you become aware of their argument if you’re going to oppose it in the first place. I took the time to watch the 29 minute video earlier this week and yes, I was moved by it—for about the first 15 minutes or so. I’ll be frank; I was ill informed about the tragedy in Uganda before tuning in to the now famous YouTube globe icon. I was aware of the situation but not to the extent that I should have been. And no thanks to this video produced by Invisible Children, I was only slightly more educated about KONY and the LRA; instead I was very well educated about the “campaign” to make KONY famous—of which doesn’t have my vote—at least not yet.
Don’t get me wrong. I am extremely happy to see our nation aroused by more than celeb fanfare and surface gossip. It has been inspiring to watch our country use social media in a new way—to spread a political message (albeit rather convoluted) rather than another weekly “Who Wore It Better?” buzz feed. More than 70 million views in one week—all in hopes of learning who this “Kony” persona is—even though it’s sad that many of us (myself included) had never heard the name until now. And while I love how our country is caring about this cause—I don’t want our cares to be misguided—by a temporary trend. As much as I sincerely hope it won’t be a trend. As in, I’m writing this on March 11th and I hope that by April 20th this will still be a very relevant and on-point article.
If we truly care about this cause, to save these children, then we need to properly educate ourselves before we sign ourselves to this Kony takedown. We need to find resources from more than this initial source that sparked the debate—we need to balance our facts so that our opinions are aligned with our education. If we believe blindly, then we are offering ourselves to be blindly fooled. I too was quickly convinced at first when I watched the Kony video—I thought to myself, of course, we must take Kony down immediately! But is it really that simple? Heavens no. In fact, when the very country we are attempting to aid has a backlash to the video, I think it may be a bit of a sign that the video was a little skim on the history and a little heavy on the hammed up mission to destroy one man. Uganda’s struggles are more than symbolic though—they are situational and taking Kony down is a step, but it’s not the entire solution.
No matter where you stand on the issue, inform yourself. Go to sites other than Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube (where you were probably directed to the Kony video in the first place) and let it lead you to other resources, like the New York Times, CNN, and the Huffington Post. Find the facts before you invest in your opinion. I’m still finding my facts before I come to a conclusion on the Kony campaign—not that your decisions have to be resolute as you acquire more knowledge. Keep your mind open to ideas other than the original one presented.
I hope you’ll join me in taking a heightened awareness not only this week but throughout your academic and professional career to always find the facts. We may not always have videos like Kony to remind us to look for both sides of an argument before succumbing to the common consensus. I hope this video, no matter how you feel about it, has been a reminder to you, as it has been to me, that we can’t stand by and let evil occur. But we can’t do anything about the tragedies in our world if we don’t educate ourselves in the first place.
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook