Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Kony 2012 - Truth or Conspiracy? Making sense of the backlash?

This article contains:
- My experiences with being scammed
- Two sides to human nature described (to help you know if you are being scammed)

There is no doubt that those who donate to causes are well intentioned.  You've probably done so yourself.  But how do you know if you are being scammed?  Nobody wants to be scammed into giving to a false cause.

My experiences
When I was younger, a university student and not on a regular income, I challenged myself to be more giving because it seemed to count more to give when I couldn't afford it.  In one instance I was asked for some petrol money by a guy who wanted to get back to his family in another town.  I gave him ten bucks and kept the five dollar note to last me until who knows when.  Later, I had the embarrassment of being told that this guy was a druggy who regularly asked for cash using a sob story.  This was my first encounter with scammers and has unfortunately hardened me to people asking for help.  It has also made me reluctant to ask for help, but that is another story.

So in relation to Kony 2012, I say again, Nobody wants to be scammed into giving to a false cause.

I don't know what the truth of the Kony situation is, but my intention here is to illustrate two sides to human nature to help you decide for yourself if someone is trying to scam you.  If you want to watch a series of videos to get the entire Kony 2012 picture, I've linked or embedded the vids at the end of this post (so that you don't fail to read the important stuff)

Two sides to human nature
One side of human nature that we have to battle with is evil.  Everyone has a dark side which they mostly work hard against to avoid being too bad.  Keeping this short and to the point, with Kony 2012, it is entirely conceivable that the whole thing is a big scam to get a hold of the natural resources of Uganda.

Looking even bigger, to Africa as a whole, there are some parts that are more stable than others, but the centres of power and influence seem to be full of corruption and mess.  It's crazy to think that the international agencies are positive about Africa when there are so many refugees coming out.  My country takes 750 refugees each year, which doesn't seem like much, but when you consider that the (large) families then follow.  Also, there are many voluntary refugees who are getting out while they still can.  Huge numbers of white South Africans are being persecuted and having their land violently taken from them as reverse racism takes over.  There are many such voluntary refugees in my country (I even married one!).

Even on this larger scale than mere Uganda, it seems conceivable that countries (who seek a foot in the door to negotiate about the rich supply of natural resources in other countries) would support instability so that they can then "help" overcome in order to be better able to claim a share of the oil (or whatever).

The other side of human nature
On the other hand, it also seems conceivable that people are just dumb and make bad decisions constantly.  This causes mess on a grand scale and leads to the sort of social and political climate which supports dictators and evil opportunists.  People also like to try and help, which often leads to more mess because everyone has an opinion about how to put this help into action.

So which seems more obvious for Kony 2012?
I'm not sure, and I don't think there can be any surety unless you have personal interaction with the people involved.  To make these sorts of decisions of support it is not enough to have transparent accounts any more (which are just numbers on a document that anyone could fudge).  There needs to be real and direct personal contact with every contributor for them to feel confident enough that their contribution is being fairly used by people who care.  Even then, the regulations they have to operate under can hijack the process despite everyone's best intentions.

My advice, if you're moved to give to the Invisible Children then take a close look first.  Don't give blindly, and if you can you should give in other ways than pure cash.  And never give anyone money for petrol... take them to the petrol station and put the petrol in for them!

The videos to watch to get the whole story: - Invisible Children CEO Ben Keesey responding to critics

Your comments are welcome below