In “Solving Crimes with Wristbands: The Arrogance of ‘Kony 2012’”, the authors make the argument that American awareness on an issue does not mean that the issue (or people) were invisible before- and does not mean that those who are now aware, can solve the problem with stickers and wristbands.
This is worthwhile argument indeed. However, this position against media campaigns aimed at U.S. citizens and especially American youth, forgets to take into account the growing recognition of the need to connect. The video rightly begins by showing how linked we are globally in this time in history. While having access to the struggles around the world can be captivating, is it foolish to think one can solve a conflict just by knowing about it? Perhaps. It is not unfounded though, that international pressure by every-day citizens makes a difference. British lawyer Peter Benenson published an article in the Observer newspaper (titled, “The Forgotten Prisoners”) in 1961 and thus began Amnesty International, which to date has helped free thousands of prisoners worldwide through activism and awareness. If people do not know, nothing can be done. If people know all over the globe, it is true that perhaps nothing by those people can (or should) be done. But is it not worth our shared humanity to know and to care? International solidarity builds pressure on those who can affect policy. It builds pressure on those causing suffering, as we have seen with a number of dictators this past year. More so, it helps those privileged enough to direct their future in ways that can contribute to less human suffering in their own communities.
I commend those who have taken the 30 minutes to watch the video. I commend those who have paid $30 to buy the Kony action kit. It is not a part of the solution, but I would argue it is time and money better spent than on the countless millions poured into American political campaigns and the hours of rhetorical banter taking up the airwaves- not to mention the stickers! And I would argue it is surely better than the ten bucks millions of Americans will spend in theaters each weekend watching artificial violence as a means of entertainment when real people across the world are dying a less than glamorous death daily.
If watching Kony 2012 means an inflated American ego alongside a growing international solidarity movement, then I’ll take it. If it helps just a handful of people feel motivated to act in the world, or even better, in their own community (how about volunteering your time or money to the local domestic violence shelter?), then there is no shame is standing behind it. It is a shame, not a lie that the luck of geography makes a child born in LA more influential on Earth than a child born in Uganda. The only way to stop this pattern is to raise global consciousness on these issues. Twitter, Facebook, and countless other means are beginning to connect activists, raise awareness, and help young people share resources. Let us not stop the cycle because we are reluctant of our born advantages. Let us work to empower one another across borders to find the solutions that are best for our own communities, while still caring about those in others.